Roland Barthes and James Bond's encounters with Japan

26 October, 2017

In March 1964 Ian Fleming published the 11th James Bond book You Only Live Twice. It was made into a movie in 1967, with Sean Connery playing the part of James Bond. In 1970 Roland Barthes published his famous book The Empire of Signs, after three travels to Japan between 1966 and 1968. While they seem to belong to very different genres – Anglo-Saxon popular culture in one case, Parisian “avant garde” in the other, and in spite of obvious contrasts, those two works share also many similarities. After having surveyed the surprisingly numerous similarities between the universe of Roland Barthes and the fantastic world of James Bond, I will analyse especially four topics at the heart of the two works : sex, violence, haiku, and the alleged topsy-turvy dimension of Japan. This will enable me to characterize a certain state of the views of the Japanese Orient in the Western world of the 1960s, especially in the context of the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964 (EL).

About the speaker:
Emmanuel Lozerand is Professor of Japanese Language and Literature in the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO) in Paris, and  Vice Director of the Japanese Studies Center of INALCO. He is also the author and editor of several books on modern Japanese literature, and a recipient of the Shibusawa Claudel Prize (2005) for his Literature and National Spirit : The Birth of History of Literature in Japan at the end of the XIXth century.

Location: Japan Foundation Level 4, Central Park, 28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008

Contact:Dr Olivier Ansart

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