The Weak Body of a Useless Woman by Anne Walthall
Matsuo Taseko and the Meiji Restoration (Women in Culture and Society)

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Synopsis

In 1862, fifty-one-year-old Matsuo Taseko left her old life behind by traveling to Kyoto, the old imperial capital. Peasant, poet, and local political activist, Taseko had come to Kyoto to support the nativist campaign to restore the Japanese emperor and expel Western "barbarians." Although she played a minor role in the events that led to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, her actions were nonetheless astonishing for a woman of her day. Honored as a hero even before her death, Taseko has since been adopted as a patron saint by rightist nationalists.

In telling Taseko's story, Anne Walthall gives us not just the first full biography in English of a peasant woman of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), but also fresh perspectives on the practices and intellectual concerns of rural entrepreneurs and their role in the Meiji Restoration. Writing about Taseko with a depth and complexity that has thus far been accorded only to men of that time, Walthall has uncovered a tale that will captivate anyone concerned with women's lives and with Japan's dramatic transition to modernity.

 

About Anne Walthall

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Anne Walthall is Professor of Japanese History at the University of California, Irvine. She has published numerous journal articles in English, French, and Japanese. Her monographs include SOCIAL PROTEST AND POPULAR CULTURE IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY JAPAN (Association for Asian Studies, 1986), PEASANT UPRISINGS IN JAPAN: A CRITICAL ANTHOLOGY OF PEASANT HISTORIES (University of Chicago Press, 1991), and THE WEAK BODY OF A USELESS WOMAN: MATSUO TASEKO AND THE MEIJI RESTORATION (University of Chicago Press, 1998). In addition, she edited THE HUMAN TRADITION IN MODERN JAPAN (Scholarly Resources, 2002) and SERVANTS OF THE DYNASTY: PALACE WOMEN IN WORLD HISTORY (University of California Press, 2008) as well as co-edited WOMEN AND CLASS IN JAPANESE HISTORY (University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 1999) and RECREATING JAPANESE MEN (University of California Press, 2011). She received her Ph.D. from The University of Chicago in 1979.
 
Published November 15, 1998 by University Of Chicago Press. 428 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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When she died, biographers transformed her into a national hero and ""good wife and wise mother."" Walthall's meticulously researched biography, the first in English, relies on a wealth of materials, including family diaries and Taseko's journals and poetry, to illustrate the social and cultural ...

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