As a result most of the renditions of western novels

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Unformatted text preview: ea of Japanese culture during the modern era. The most successful writer in the years immediately before and after the Restoration was Kanagaki Robun, an edokko or “child of Edo” who specialized in the traditional genre of “witty books” (kokkeibon). One of Robun’s post-Restoration works was A Journey by Foot Through Western Lands (Seiyò Dòchû Hizakurige), in which he attempted to give a modern twist to Jippensha Ikku’s famous story of two rogues frolicking their way down the Tòkaidò from Edo to Kyoto; another was Eating Beef Stew Cross-Legged, the parody on the aping of Western customs that we noted earlier in this chapter. A prime example of Robun’s irreverent humor can be observed in the title of still another of his books, Kyûri Zukai. This title was phonetically the same as Fukuzawa Yukichi’s Physics Illustrated; but, in the Sinico-Japanese characters used by Robun, it meant On the Use of Cucumbers. Such punning was of course frivolous, an adjective that may be applied to much of the work done by Robun and his fellow Edo authors. Although these men continued to hold the center of the literary stage for a while, they produced almost nothing that was memorable. The future of Meiji literature lay clearly in the assimilation of powerful artistic ideas and styles then being imported from the West. In the first decade or so of Meiji, those Japanese writers and scholars interested in foreign literature devoted themselves mainly to the translation of famous Western works. An adaptation of Robinson Crusoe had, in fact, been completed even before the Restoration, and a Japanese rendering of Aesop’s Fables existed as one of the few products of the old Jesuit press that had survived the attempt by the Tokugawa shogunate to eradicate all traces of contact with the Catholic Christian countries during the century from the 1540s to the 1630s. Among the earliest Western translations to appear in print in the Meiji period was Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help, a book of success stories whose very title suggests the kind of subject matter that Japan’s passionate new devotees of civilization and enlightenment were most likely to appreciate. One of t...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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