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The Frontier WithinEssays by Abe Kōbō$
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Kōbō Abe

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231163866

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231163866.001.0001

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Discovering America

Discovering America

Chapter:
(p.47) Discovering America
Source:
The Frontier Within
Author(s):

Abe Kōbō

Richard F. Calichman

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231163866.003.0004

In the essay presented in this chapter, Kōbō talks about his own discovery of America as a problematic—specifically America as a kind of “criminal” vis-à-vis Japan. Kōbō admits that he does not know America very well, that he has never set foot on American soil nor made a systematic study of American literature. All he knows about it is from the several Americans with whom he has spoken, the section of America represented by the military bases, and the image of America as reflected inside of us through what he has seen on the film screen. But he notes that Franz Kafka wrote the novel Amerika without seeing America. Kōbō also considers Jean-Paul Sartre's travel account in America and commonalities between Japan and America before discussing some infamous American customs. Finally, he examines how American culture that emerges from its roots in the “myth of the people” has become fully assimilated to American customs.

Keywords:   discovery, America, Japan, Franz Kafka, Amerika, Jean-Paul Sartre, travel, American customs, American culture, myth of the people

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