The Fox & Dr. Shimamura
Winner of the 2020 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize The Fox and Dr. Shimamura toothsomely encompasses East and West, memory and reality, fox-possession myths, and psychiatric mythmaking. As an outstanding young Japanese medical student at the end of the nineteenth century, Dr. Shimamura is sent-to his dismay-to the provinces: he is asked to cure scores of young women afflicted by an epidemic of fox possession. Believing it's all a hoax, he considers the assignment an insulting joke, until he sees a fox moving under the skin of a young beauty... Next he travels to Europe and works with such luminaries as Charcot, Breuer and Freud-whose methods, Dr. Shimamura concludes, are incompatible with Japanese politeness. The ironic parallels between Charcot's theories of female hysteria and ancient Japanese fox myths-when it comes to beautiful, writhing young women-are handled with a lightly sardonic touch by Christine Wunnicke, whose flavor-packed, inventive language is a delight.
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