cover of book

The Literary Voices of Winnifred Eaton: Redefining Ethnicity and Authenticity
by Jean Lee Cole
Rutgers University Press, 2002
Cloth: 978-0-8135-3086-4 | eISBN: 978-0-8135-5942-1
Library of Congress Classification PR9199.3.W3689Z64 2002
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.52

Winnifred Eaton, better known under her Japanese-sounding pseudonym, Onoto Watanna, published over a dozen novels and hundreds of short stories, articles, and screenplays during the first half of the twentieth century. However, by the time of her death in 1954, most of her books were out of print.

Eaton attempted to disguise her Chinese heritage by writing under a hypothetically Japanese pen name. In legal documents, she usually claimed a "white" racial identity. In her fiction, Eaton portrayed Japanese, Chinese, Irish, and American characters, relying on the accepted stereotypes of the day. Jean Lee Cole shows that the many voices Eaton adopted show her deep preoccupations with "American" identity as a whole. The author attempts to reconcile all of these "voices," examining how Eaton survived in a climate hostile to minority writers in the early twentieth century, and how her seemingly anomalous works conjoin Asian American and American literary history.
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