New PDF release: Kaempfer’s Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed

By Engelbert Kaempfer

ISBN-10: 0824819640

ISBN-13: 9780824819644

Engelbert Kaempfer's paintings was once a best-seller from the instant it used to be released in London in 1727 and continues to be the most priceless assets for historians of the Tokugawa interval. The narrative describes what no jap used to be accredited to list (the information of the shogun's fort, for instance) and what no jap proposal useful of recording (the trivia of daily life). in spite of the fact that, all prior translations of the background oar mistaken, being according to the paintings of an 18th century Swiss translator or that of the German editor a few fifty years later who had little wisdom of Japan and resented Kaempfer's compliment of the heathen state. Beatrice Bodart-Bailey's new translation of this vintage, which displays cautious research of Kaempfer's unique manuscript, reclaims the paintings for the fashionable reader, putting it within the context of what's at present identified approximately Tokugawa Japan and restoring the humour and freshness of Kaempfer's observations and impressions. In Kaempfer's Japan we have now, for the 1st time, and exact and carefully readable annotated translation of Kaempfer's vibrant account of pre-modern Japan.

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Extra resources for Kaempfer’s Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed

Sample text

It appears, therefore, as if nature has purposely separated this country from others to form its own little world and has fortified and provided it with all the necessities of life, so that it can support itself adequately without relying on other countries. Japanese Possessions Overseas Beyond those discussed, there are some far-distant lands that are not part of the Japanese realm but are protected by and take orders from Japan. They are (1) the islands of Ryu¯kyu¯ or Liqueo, subjects of the lord of Satsuma as their erstwhile conqueror, but not of the Japanese ruler; (2) Cho¯sen, or the third part of the peninsula of Korea situated at its extremity, which the shogun rules through the lord of Iki Tsushima;13 and (3) the island of Ezo, which he keeps subservient through the lord of Matsumae, part of the large province of O¯ shu¯.

Like the remaining material, the relevant notes came into the possession of Sir Hans Sloane and were at hand when J. G. Scheuchzer produced the first English translation of the work on Japan. 33 Book 1 The notes consist of a fairly coherent body of writing, especially Kaempfer’s diary of his journey from Batavia to Siam. No doubt the good condition of the notes, together with the fact that Kaempfer had included a sizable amount of detail on Siam in his first two chapters of book 1, persuaded Scheuchzer to add them to the manuscript.

Here again his counsel, stressing moderation, loyalty, benevolence, and steadfastness, has much in common with that of Confucius. 107 It could not have escaped Kaempfer that, here again, Japan had already achieved what was still mostly an ideal in Europe. The Reliability of Kaempfer’s Work With Japanese government and society fulfilling Kaempfer’s ideals in such important respects, should we, as his German editor Dohm suggests, be wary of his rose-tinted spectacles? I do not think so. Kaempfer’s recognition of certain virtues in Japan should rather be seen as a healthy antidote against the many frustrations he suffered as a “prisoner” on Deshima.

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Kaempfer’s Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed by Engelbert Kaempfer


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