literature stands in a relation to canonized literature such that, as
Jacques Derrida comments on writing (namely, "no writing without violence"),
there can be no canon without censorship, no censorship without canon.
Marginality is, then, paradoxically central to and constitutive of the
canon, which is in the continual process of formation through acts of
censorship and appropriation. Definitions of living bodies follow a
similar logic, standing in binary relation with notions of dead bodies;
the concept of a living body needs that of a dead one to survive. Literary
representations that differ from categorical binaries and challenge
received notions of the "speakable" or the "living" are inherently taboo;
through the suppression and censorship of such taboo literature canons
are formed and maintained.
1938, Japanese authorities issued sanctions against the publishers of
Chûô kôron, suppressing Ishikawa Tatsuzô's
Ikiteiru heitai for its graphic depictions of the casualties
of the war in China and cruelty of Japanese soldiers. In 1939, Dalton
Trumbo and his publishers refused calls by fascist elements in the United
States to reprint Trumbo's pacifist johnny got his gun, portraying
the interior monologue of an amputee. While the publication histories
and the ideological circumstances of the reception of these novels differ,
they share common ground as challenges to canonical master narratives
of war, as iterated in Hino Ashihei's Mugi to heitai and James
Jones' From Here To Eternity, novels in which the living are
the living, the dead are the dead, and the twain never meet.
on recent scholarship on the body, law, and difference, this paper will
argue that while taboo and canon are always historically and culturally
informed, the dynamic processes by which they function across time and
space. As a consequence of this transcending, there is no essential
difference between writing under a "severely repressive authoritarian"
regime and a "democratic" one. There is no essential difference,
which is to say that there is a difference, not in kind but in degree.