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The heart of O Sono San
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At the beginning of the twentieth century, Elizabeth Cooper specialized in a particular form of women's travel writing -- early feminist accounts of women of other cultures that focused on women's rights and position in society. Cooper sought to inform women at home of the lives of women overseas to build a cross-cultural understanding and to promote recognition that there was a feminine perspective that was as important as that of men. Writing here of the Japanese woman, she adopts the device of the "faction," a mixture of fiction and description with accompanying photographs, to explore the traditional values that endure beneath the surface of the new Japan. The Japanese, she writes, believe that the only qualities that benefit a woman are chastity, mercy, quietness, and above all absolute obedience and loyalty to her parents, her country and her husband. Cooper sets out to show the effect of this training on Japanese women in the period when Japan was establishing herself as a world power Cooper captures the woman's world that is inaccessible to men -- denial of self for the sake of others, the raising of children, relations with the in-laws, and the changes that modernity brought to domestic life. Above all, she illuminates the culture of sacrifice that would fully surface when Japan entered World War II.
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