A Vision of the Orient: Texts, Intertexts, and Contexts of by Jonathan Wisenthal et al. (eds.)

By Jonathan Wisenthal et al. (eds.)

Best often called the tale from the 1904 Puccini opera, the compelling sleek fable of Madame Butterfly has been learn, watched, and re-interpreted for over a century, from Pierre Loti's 1887 novel Madame Chrysanthème to A.R. Gurney's 1999 play Far East. This interesting collaborative quantity examines the Madame Butterfly narrative in a wide selection of cultural contexts - literary, musical, theatrical, cinematic, historic, and political - and in a number of media - opera, drama, movie, and prose narratives - and contains contributions from quite a lot of educational disciplines, reminiscent of Asian reviews, English Literature, Theatre, Musicology, and movie Studies.

From its unique colonial beginnings, the Butterfly tale has been grew to become approximately and inverted lately to shed mild again at the nature of the connection among East and West, final well known in its unique model in addition to in retellings similar to David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly and David Cronenberg's display edition. The mixed views that outcome from this collaboration supply new and demanding insights into the robust, resonant fable of a painful stumble upon among East and West.

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Additional resources for A Vision of the Orient: Texts, Intertexts, and Contexts of Madame Butterfly, Edition: 2nd Revised edition

Sample text

Frankly, I’m not the one to ask. ’ And as I sat squirming through the film, I became painfully aware of the gap between my own outraged reaction and that of those around me who had brought ample quantities of tissues in eager anticipation of their leaky responses. I considered doing some on-the-spot ethnography: that is, turning to the blissfully weeping people around me and questioning them. But it didn’t seem like the right thing to do, somehow. Is it possible to perform Puccini’s music – to mount Butterfly – without reproducing its immortal/ immoral message?

In his chapter on Madama Butterfly, Tambling (long a professor of comparative literature at the University of Hong Kong) sets out the political tensions between Asia and the West at the turn of the century that helped ignite the Orientalist fantasies of Long, Belasco, Puccini, and others. Strange to tell, for all the talk of the diminutive, quaint, and childlike Japanese people, Japan had just emerged as a major player on the world stage of military expansionism. And although the United States was in the process of coming out as an imperialist power at this same moment, it – and the rest of the West – needed assurances of its innate superiority.

An overwhelming feeling of resignation underlines this state of mind, yet with an implication of a self-knowledge and self-control enabling geisha to accept such a life to which, by choice or lack of choice, they dedicate themselves. This essay is an attempt to explore the transformation/distortion of these defining characteristics of the geisha/hired wife in the myth of Madame Butterfly. How did she become the woman who, in response to her American husband’s desertion, committed seppuku or ritual suicide?

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