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Deviance and Social Darwinism in Edogawa Ranpo's Erotic-Grotesque Thriller "Kotō no oni"

Edogawa Ranpo and Jim Reichert
The Journal of Japanese Studies
Vol. 27, No. 1 (Winter, 2001), pp. 113-141
DOI: 10.2307/3591938
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3591938
Page Count: 29
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Deviance and Social Darwinism in Edogawa Ranpo's Erotic-Grotesque Thriller
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Abstract

The cultural phenomenon known as erotic-grotesque-nonsense (eroguro-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 Kotō 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, Kotō no oni itself destabilizes conventional literary and ideological interpretive positions.

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