In her book, Pamela Genova suggests that as critics move in general from a literal to a more metaphoric understanding and presentation of "Japonisme," the mutability of the phenomenon is highlighted in a rich and illuminating manner. By exploring the conditions of the creation of these works, accenting the original aims of the artists, the manipulations carried out by art dealers, gallery owners, and boutique managers, as well as the gestures of explanation, interpretation, and judgment offered by the professional and amateur critics, "Japonisme" takes on an even more versatile nature. Further, a complex web of correspondence germinates among these artists both French and Japanese and their many critics. It is in this light that the truly rich character of "Japonisme" comes forth, since the undesirability, even the impossibility of the attempt to reduce it to a single genre, style, era, or cultural cadre attests to its elusiveness and its Protean nature. "Japonisme" does not correspond to a single dictionary definition, no matter how subtle or self-aware that definition might be. By situating the dynamics of "Japonisme" as a response on the part of French culture to the culture of Japan, we gain a keener sense of the multiplicity of modern French sensibility itself, of how the awareness of a nation s language, history, and art forms can be creatively reflected in the images of a culture seemingly radically different from its own."
Northwestern University Press
Aesthetic Translation in Nineteenth-Century French Prose