Japan: The Tears of Madame Chrysanthème


in Empire of Love

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780195162950
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199867660 | DOI:
Japan: The Tears of Madame Chrysanthème

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This chapter examines the rise of Japan to global visibility during the Meiji Restoration after 1868, and the ways that the almost simultaneous collapse of the French in the Franco-Prussian war of 1871 leads to a re-ordering of civilizations in the late 19th century. Organized around the contract marriage in Pierre Loti's popular story Madame Chrysanthème (similar to Madame Butterfly), the question of whether the Japanese are capable of emotion becomes central to debates about what constitutes an advanced society. French commentaries insisting on Gallic passion are contrasted to Japanese material and political developments that rapidly transform the tea-house vision of Japan into a picture of the imperialist “Yellow Prussians” of Asia, both fascinating and threatening to increasingly uncertain European powers.

Keywords: Japan; Asia; theater; Meiji Era; emotion; modernization

Chapter.  10316 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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