Yoko Tawada’s Shamans and “Schrift der Objekte”

Suzuko Mousel Knott


This article analyzes the role of Yoko Tawada’s representation of shamanic practices in her literary essays and prose fiction as an extension of her concept of a “Schrift der Objekte,” first developed in her published dissertation Spielzeug und Sprachmagie. By turning the author’s poetological analysis of magic in European literature on her own works, we begin to understand how the ideas she was developing during the mid-1990s find their expression in her prose fiction from 1993 on. Studies on Eurasian shamanism by Mircea Eliade and Claude Lévi-Strauss, cited by Tawada in her dissertation and Tübinger Poetik-Vorlesungen, help shape the shaman figures of her texts. The shamanic narrating voices articulate their fluid subjectivity and shifting modes of narration through what I term here a “Schamanenschrift.” This is not to suggest that the author’s work should be reductively read as a form of modern or post-modern shamanism but is offered instead with the aim of demonstrating how shamanism can be viewed as one important part of a larger complex and multi-faceted poetology. (SMK)

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