Daily Archives: December 11, 2014

3 months in… and some thoughts on Japan

I’ve been blogging about Zobel and my activities for three months now. It’s really encouraging to see that the site has had hits from all over the world!

I’ve received great feedback from Zobel’s daughter, Jenny, and the Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau. I’d like to encourage any other readers to please leave a comment, and help me develop this blog into a helpful tool for others out there with an interest in Martinican literature.

In an unexpected twist, the blog has received over 50 visits from Japan! After I spoke at a Round Table at the Toulouse La Novela public festival, a retired Physics professor in the audience, Jean Léotin, contacted me about a conference he was organising in Martinique.

The prestigious 5th International Symposium on Terahertz Nanoscience took place 1-5 December 2014 in Martinique: http://nanojapan.rice.edu/teranano5.shtml.

Prof. Léotin felt my work could help his conference delegates to understand the history and culture of the island they were visiting, and kindly added a link to my blog to the conference homepage.

Delegates came from all over the world, with many from Japan (previous Symposia had been held in Japan).

It’s a development I could never have envisaged, but perhaps it’s particularly fitting, as from the late 1960s, Joseph Zobel developed a very strong interest in Japan and Japanese culture (as related in a newspaper article).

As a young student, he had dreamed of studying Art and Architecture, but was refused a colonial scholarship to study a subject which the authorities deemed ‘unsuitable’ for a young man of his social origin, an episode recounted in the semi-autobiographical novel La Fête à Paris, 1953. Remarkably, in his later life, it was the discovery of Japanese art which finally enabled Zobel to pursue this interest. He became trained in the floral art of Ikebana and the art of Shiatsu massage, in addition to studying Japanese garden design.

My project will develop a more thorough exploration of Japanese influences in Zobel’s later work, demonstrating that he is a more exciting, complex, transnational author than critics have previously allowed.