The Wasteland explores the psychology of the modern Japanese woman and her urge to realize an inner self of latent sexuality, long suppressed in Japan's male-dominated society. Nobe Michiko, the novel's narcissistic protagonist, leaves ruined lives in her wake as she pursues her lustful goals. The author, Takahashi Takako (1932-2013) earned bachelor's and master's degrees in French literature at prestigious Kyoto University, a remarkable achievement for a woman in the 1950s. There, she was influenced by the decadent poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) and the writings of novelist and Catholic apologist Fran ois Mauriac (1885-1970). Christianity and depravity characterize both The Wasteland and many of Takahashi's other works. The novel was first published in 1980 at a time of explosive Japanese economic growth, which, in Takahashi's view, had created in Tokyo a wasteland of immorality and inhumanity. Yet it is a Christian novel, for the author was a devout Roman Catholic (indeed a one-time nun), and the title page epigraph from the Old Testament book of Hosea unmistakably mantles the narrative in a religious message: God is here to help if the wayward would but listen. But, do they listen?
About the Author
Britten Dean earned his BA from Brown University in French and German literature and his MA and PhD from Columbia University in East Asian Languages and Cultures. During a thirty-year career at California State University Stanislaus, he published extensively and taught a wide variety of courses in the fields of modern Chinese and Japanese history and culture. He lived many years in East Asia, and now, professor emeritus, he resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.