The Journal of Japanese Studies

 

Abstract

jim Reichert
Deviance and Social Darwinism in Edogawa Ranpo's
Erotic-Grotesque Thriller Koto no oni

The cultural phenomenon known as erotic-grotesque-nonsense (ero-guro-nansensu) flourished in Japan during the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Dominating this milieu was the popular author Edogawa Ranpo (1894-1965).  One of his most successful, and sensational, novels was Koto no oni (Demon of the lonely isle, 1929-30), which offered readers the kind of freakish characters and shocking incidents they had come to expect from a master of erotic-grotesque cultural production.  In addition to its undeniable appeal as a skillfully executed piece of commercial fiction, the text is also noteworthy for its complicated engagement with contemporaneous systems of literary, political, social, and scientific signification.  In a manner comparable to its cast of characters, a menagerie of “freaks” who challenge standard notions of what constitutes “normal” humanity, Koto no oni itself destabilizes conventional literary and ideological interpretive positions.

Volume 27, Number 1 (Winter 2001)
© 2001 Society for Japanese Studies

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