Double Visions, Double Fictions: The Doppelgänger in Japanese Film and Literature

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A fresh take on the dopplegänger and its place in Japanese film and literature—past and present Since its earliest known use in German Romanticism in the late 1700s, the word Doppelgänger (double-walker) can be found throughout a vast array of literature, culture, and media. This motif of doubling can also be seen traversing historical and cultural boundaries. Double …

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A fresh take on the dopplegänger and its place in Japanese film and literature—past and present

Since its earliest known use in German Romanticism in the late 1700s, the word Doppelgänger (double-walker) can be found throughout a vast array of literature, culture, and media. This motif of doubling can also be seen traversing historical and cultural boundaries. Double Visions, Double Fictions analyzes the myriad manifestations of the doppelgänger in Japanese literary and cinematic texts at two historical junctures: the interwar period of the 1920s and 1930s and the present day.

According to author Baryon Tensor Posadas, the doppelgänger marks the intersection of the historical impact of psychoanalytic theory, the genre of detective fiction in Japan, early Japanese cinema, and the cultural production of Japanese colonialism. He examines the doppelgänger’s appearance in the works of Edogawa Rampo, Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, and Akutagawa Ryunosuke, as well as the films of Tsukamoto Shin’ya and Kurosawa Kiyoshi, not only as a recurrent motif but also as a critical practice of concepts. Following these explorations, Posadas asks: What were the social, political, and material conditions that mobilized the desire for the doppelgänger? And how does the dopplegänger capture social transformations taking place at these historical moments?

Double Visions, Double Fictions ultimately reveals how the doppelgänger motif provides a fascinating new backdrop for understanding the enmeshment of past and present.

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