Accepted paper:

Comical irogonomi characters and episodes in late Heian and Kamakura monogatari

Author:

Raisa Porrasmaa (Helsinki University)

Paper short abstract:

In the case of late Heian and Kamakura monogatari, we meet gentlemen who are courting ladies in "irogonomic" way. However, these episodes end surprisingly in a comical or ironic fashion. I argue that the ideal (literary) irogonomi actually is lightly comical and thus a very human character.

Paper long abstract:

In Heian-Kamakura court literature, the character known as irogonomi is usually an ideal gentleman, interested in romantic love and talented in expressing his emotions through music, poetry or other proper measures.

In the case of late Heian and Kamakura monogatari, we meet gentlemen who are courting ladies in a properly "irogonomic" way. Nevertheless, these episodes end surprisingly in a comical or ironic fashion. Researchers such as Misumi Yōichi have considered these kinds of performances as "parody of irogonomi". However, I argue that the ideal (literary) irogonomi gentleman actually is lightly comical and thus a very human character. It is possible that readers were even expecting that an ideal gentleman would make a mistake and the courting episode would end comically.

In this presentation I will take examples of this phenomenon, for example, from the story of Hanazakura Oru Shōshō from Tsutsumi Chūnagon monogatari, in which the irogonomi protagonist abducts a lady, but at the end of the story it appears that under cover of darkness he has actually taken the old auntie of the lady with him. Another example comes from Torikahebaya, where the character of Saichō Chūjō has been said to be parodying irogonomi and described to be playing the role of oko, an idiot.

Nevertheless, I point out that we have plenty of examples from earlier times where a gentleman commits a mistake or something unexpected happens, leading to a comical episode. For comparison, I pick examples from Taketori monogatari, Genji monogatari and Ise monogatari, in order to show that the failure story, shippaitan (失敗譚), seems to have been a common pattern for irogonomi episodes since ancient times.

panel S3b_04
Parodic representations of irogonomi characters in classical Japanese literature