The Old Curiosity Rock: Hong Kong, the First Opium War, and the Travelogues and Fictions of 1839–42
This paper has a number of protagonists: Captain Arthur Cunynghame, Captain Sir Edward Belcher, army surgeon Edward H. Cree, Lieutenant John Ouchterlony, Commander J. Elliot Bingham. They all wrote pieces of travel while involved in the ‘Expedition to China’ or ‘the Chinese War’ that led to the Crown’s occupation of Hong Kong, that ‘barren rock in the sea’.
In the spirit of our ‘Pacific Gateways’ conference, I want to look at the scenes of arrival in these men’s accounts, but also at how the new acquisition of Hong Kong led to imaginative renderings of the place in image and text (some of these military men sketched and painted too). Novels published in England during the First Opium War – by Frederick Marryat and Charles Dickens, specifically – may not be specifically about Hong Kong or China, but they pick up on the motifs of journeying by land and by sea (Nicholas Nickleby, 1838-9; Poor Jack, 1840; Percival Keene, 1842), exploration and settlement (Masterman Ready, or the Wreck of the Pacific, 1841) and also the loss of one’s property to another man (The Old Curiosity Shop, 1841). More directly than his novelistic colleagues, George Chinnery’s paintings of the Pearl River Delta, its landscapes and inhabitants are a record of this man’s journey into a new, old and changing world along the China coast, and evidence that a new imperial presence in China opened up original imaginative (and lucrative) opportunities. Reading these various texts and images, I am particularly interested in the land-water dichotomy and the geopolitical mapping of the (imperial) world through terrestrial settlements as well as along maritime lines.
Plenary: Nikki Hessell (Victoria University of Wellington)
Robinson Crusoe and the Pacific Novel: Hospitality, Recognition, Translation
Despite drawing on a range of oceanic settings, from the Atlantic, to the Indian and Pacific oceans, Robinson Crusoe is in many ways the ultimate Transpacific novel: it imagines a world of oceans and islands that both corresponds to, and ultimately starts to shape, European conceptions of the Pacific. But the book itself also travelled across the Pacific Ocean to the newly established or newly connected gateways of global intellectual and commercial exchange. From the scholarship of Robert Markley, Ann Marie Fallon and others, we know what Robinson Crusoe makes of the Pacific, but what did the Pacific make of Robinson Crusoe? This lecture will consider the history of the novel in the nineteenth-century Pacific, as a text that was transmitted and translated through the various “gateways” of emerging literary and political institutions, developing centres of exchange, and both introduced and indigenous languages. It proposes that the novel is itself a gateway, through which the vast array of Pacific communities in the nineteenth century attempt to converse and connect.
Panel 1: Visual Gateways
Kara Lindsey Blakley (University of Melbourne)
An Authentic Account, Illustrated: William Alexander’s Gateway Imagery in Macartney Mission Travelogues
When examining historical travel writing, scholars have traditionally taken illustrations at face value, and they offer otherwise compelling analyses little more than visual corollaries to the texts in question. Art historians have been complicit in maintaining this status quo, with finished oil on canvas paintings garnering more scholarly attention than sketches in the field or travelogues’ illustrations. The imagery resulting from the 1793 Macartney embassy to China requires its own consideration; excepting Alexandra Loske’s research into the role of Chinese imagery in the Royal Pavilion, Brighton and Stacey Sloboda’s work on William Alexander’s brand of chinoiserie, little has been made of this visual material.
This paper, then, seeks to remediate this deficiency. I will consider Alexander’s depictions of the gateway and maritime points of entry in China to examine how the supposed anthropological image functioned as a hegemonic device. The engravings I will examine were originally published in George Leonard Staunton’s An Authentic Account of an Embassy From the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China (1797), John Barrow’s Travels in China (1804), and Alexander’s own Costume of China (1805). These images—which, notably, departed from the the fantastical chinoiserie which predated them—purported to demonstrate to armchair-travelers the way China ‘looked,’ but it is this very claim to authenticity which requires that the images be read anew through a postcolonial lens. For example, View in the Eastern Side of the Imperial Park at Gehol (a penetrative riverscape saturated with typical Chinese signifiers) became commercialized beyond its initial mass-printing, finding its way onto a Davenport porcelain service. In this manner, the image of China becomes a consumable commodity, a knowable Saidian Orient.
While travel literature has increasingly attracted scholarly attention, travel art and visual material remain obscure and poorly understood. While only a starting point, my aim is to understand these significant documents within a postcolonial and global context.
Laurence Williams (University of Tokyo)
An Aesthetic Gateway to Japan: Mount Fuji in Victorian Travel Accounts, 1880–1900
This paper examines, with reference to late Victorian representations of Mount Fuji, how the geographical features of the Pacific Rim can function as narrative points of entry in travel accounts, as well as sites of aesthetic mediation between cultures. Fuji initially attracts rather ambivalent praise from Victorian travellers (Sir Rutherford Alcock describes it in 1863 as a “dread hydra” hanging over Japan and finds the summit boring), and it is not until around 1880 that the volcano becomes seen as a defining experience of travel to Yokohama and Edo/Tokyo.
In this paper, I explore how this change might be interpreted as the adaptation of pre-existing Japanese modes of representing the mountain, connecting it to the broader Victorian circulation of ukiyo-e and lacquerware images of the mountain, and in particular to the Western discovery of Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), whose Fugaku hyakkei (One hundred views of Fuji) was read by British and American expatriate communities in the 1870s and first translated into English by Edward S. Morse in 1880. I show how travellers, drawing on Hokusai, develop an aesthetic in which Fuji is seen through a series of set “views”, typically framed by or contrasted with the Pacific Ocean (as in Hokusai’s celebrated “Great Wave off Kanagawa”, c.1830), and described in language that mimics the visual characteristics of ukiyo-e prints, such as through discourses of intensely saturated colour (gold, purple, rose, green) rather than light and shade. Fuji’s summit (often vertically distorted in imitation of Hokusai) becomes praised for its “perfect” symmetrical curves, offering a sharp contrast to the irregular forms of mountains in European post-Romantic landscape art. One important distinction is that where Hokusai typically presents Fuji in dialogue (ironic or religious) with the communities surrounding it, Victorians tend to separate Fuji from its human context as transcendent object “rising above” the scene. I argue that this permits appropriation of the mountain as a cross-cultural object of the religious sublime (exemplified in John La Farge’s 1888 mural in the Church of the Ascension in New York depicting Christ ascending over Fuji).
My talk will focus on three travelogues, contrasting Edward Reed’s Japan (1880) and Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks (1881) with Lafcadio Hearn’s attempt to reconnect with the tradition of Buddhist pilgrimage to Fuji in Exotics and Retrospectives (1898). I will also show a number of illustrations by Victorian travellers and Japanese artists. I plan to end with some general conclusions on the role of the “gateway” in facilitating and directing—but also, perhaps unavoidably, delimiting and constraining—the flow of aesthetic ideas across cultures.
Panel 2: Transportation and Time Zones
Anna Johnston (University of Queensland)
Travelling the Pacific Rim
George French Angus sat on the South Head of Sydney Harbour in 1845, staring out at the Pacific Ocean: "I could have sat from the rising to the setting sun gazing upon that broad, boundless ocean, encircling the Southern Hemisphere with its mighty waters, on whose vast bosom the vessels appeared as little specks, glistening white upon the sapphire of the watery plain. I used to watch the vessels ... speculating on the varied destinies of each little bark" (Savage Life and Scenes, 199). The settler colonies provided vantage points for Britons to imagine new geopolitical spaces and the development of a Pacific consciousness that linked southern colonies to Asia-Pacific regions. Such travellers shifted British attention from the settler colonies as mere offshoots of the mother country to gateways to the Pacific Rim. Their texts reveal the emergence of a new "geomodernity", in Laura Doyle and Laura Winkel's terms. These travel texts reveal the transnational and globalising imperative of mid- to late-nineteenth-century travel, and the ways in which print culture opened up the Pacific Rim for armchair travellers in Britain and beyond.
Kevin Riordan (Nanyang Technological University)
The Gateway to Tomorrow: Travel Writing on the Date Line
In Jules Verne’s 1873 Around the World in Eighty Days, the characters and the readers are both duped by their watches. The traveling party returns to London after eighty-one days away, only to realize that they “unconsciously” gained a day some hundred pages earlier, somewhere indistinct upon the Pacific Ocean. Verne cribbed this “time-travel” conceit from Edgar Allan Poe’s 1841 short story “Three Sundays in a Week,” and Poe seems to have adapted the twist from a story in a Philadelphia newspaper. In the nineteenth century what would later come to be known as the International Date Line was being invented discursively as both fact and fiction.
In this paper I examine the reading and writing practices that provided the reading public a sense for this unique “gateway” in the Pacific, a vague and almost mythical place where one suddenly loses or gains a calendar day. While there has been significant critical attention to the standardization of global time, most studies stay on firm ground to show how the time zones were designed to unify the expanding telegraph and railroad networks. But the sea remained much more resistant to spatial discipline, and the place and the experience of crossing the date line initially was shaped more by travelers and writers than by diplomats and businessmen. While the likes of Poe and Verne relied on this gateway for resolving their plots, many travel writers also documented this peculiar embodied experience in non-fiction accounts. Reading the Pacific crossings by authors such as Nellie Bly and Mark Twain along with Poe and Verne, I show how, ahead of international agreements, it was writers who collectively mapped and produced this fluid fiction—imagined on the water somewhere in the Pacific—that reveals the only-conventional logic of modern terrestrial space-time.
Panel 3: California and the Transpacific
Edward Marx (Ehime University)
Autobiographical Abjection in Joseph Heco's Narrative of a Japanese
Approaching the readable yet understudied Narrative of a Japanese (1892, 1895) by Joseph Heco (Hamada Hikozo, 1837-1897)—the first Japanese American citizen and (arguably) first Japanese American autobiographer—consideration should be given to problems of abjection: as a factor in the construction of Heco's subjectivity, as a debilitating force on the narrative itself, and as a factor in its "history of nonreception," to borrow Hsuan Hsu's phrase. Heco's Narrative is a productive text to explore abjection, linking its psychological aspects to the "abject nationality" of Asian Americans: the "dynamic and unstable aspect of abjection" that Karen Shimakawa has argued "makes it a peculiarly apt model for charting Asian Americanness."
A number of scenes in the Narrative seem designed to elucidate processes and characteristics of abjection, most particularly, the curious incident of the mirrored stage in San Francisco where Heco and his fellow castaways were first displayed to an eager San Francisco public at a masquerade ball. While an encounter with a mirror on a stage should not necessarily be taken as representing the mirror stage in a Lacanian sense, the parallels are hard to resist: in the Lacanian account, the mirror stage is the developmental stage at which the ego forms through identification with a specular image. The ambivalent response of the Japanese to their objectification produces an abject effect of inscrutability, and can be read against Heco's own ambivalence toward his autobiographical project. Abjection is, of course, a defining characteristic of the castaway, but the abjection of Heco and his shipmates was greatly exacerbated by Japan's problematic international relations and American objectives to open Japan to foreign trade. While the castaway's situation might appear exceptional, it becomes surprisingly paradigmatic of the ungroundedness afflicting Japanese emigrants that became a defining characteristic of many later Japanese-American cultural productions.
Jennifer S. Tuttle (University of New England)
Unsettling the Pacific: Nervous Bodies and Chinese Exclusion in Edith Eaton’s California
From the time of her birth in England in 1865, Edith Maude Eaton led a peripatetic existence that ranged from the Atlantic and Caribbean worlds across North America to the Pacific coast of the United States. A half-Chinese British subject, Eaton characterized herself autobiographically as Eurasian yet marked herself textually in myriad registers of race and gender; she is best known for her work published as Sui Sin Far. Eaton’s writing in and about California exploited a fundamental tension surrounding the West’s imperial expansion into the Pacific world. The very period in which California’s port cities became a US imperial gateway and nexus of trade was also the era of Exclusion, with an elaborate surveillance infrastructure barring entry by Chinese racialized subjects from across the Pacific and pathologizing networks of racial and cultural exchange involving those of Chinese ancestry. This paper argues that Eaton deploys the trope of nervousness, a medical concept in widespread popular use in the late nineteenth century, as a counter-discourse to Exclusion’s technologies of surveillance, medicalization, and racialization, in order to conjure corporeal, ethnic, and geographical gateways. Her journalism and fiction abound with portraits of travel by Chinese subjects who circulate, smuggle, and transgress in ways that are often framed in medical terms; in her autobiography, she traces the origin of her own illness to her biracial identity and geographical fragmentation, marking herself as neurasthenic during a time in which such a designation was coded as both white and leisure class (the latter a far cry from her downwardly mobile status). Countering dystopic constructions of Chinese immigrants as diseased invaders threatening the health of “white” American bodies—and the US body politic—her California travel writings valorize nervousness, fluid racial identities, and border-crossing among Chinese immigrants as alternative sites of healthy subjectivity. Far from a site of vulnerability to an infectious “yellow peril,” Eaton’s California is a galvanizing nerve center that is insistently receptive to transpacific flows.
San Francisco’s Chinatown in Bret Harte’s “Wan Lee, the Pagan,” Helen Hunt Jackson’s “The Chinese Empire” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The New and Old Pacific Capitals”
The paper explores the location of Chinatown as a site of indeterminacy in the late nineteenth century by looking at three accounts about San Francisco Chinatown in Bret Harte’s “Wan Lee, the Pagan” (1874), Helen Hunt Jackson’s “The Chinese Empire” in Bits of Travel at Home (1878) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The New and Old Pacific Capitals” (1882). Instead of a place characterized by its ethnic purity or cultural homogeneity, Chinatown has been portrayed as a much more phantasmagoric space, in which the boundaries between China and the West, the premodern and the industrialized, the outsiders and the native are continuously imagined, revised, reconstructed or reversed. If, as Edward Said has powerfully argued in his seminal book Orientalism (1978) that the oriental is defined by the west through the notion of the other, the existence of historical sites such as San Francisco Chinatown complicates the story by revealing a more unstable borderline, a spatial and racial presence that designates and often instigates a more multilayered power relation between Asia, America, and Europe. San Francisco Chinatown as a colony of Asian immigrants and the marginalized racial other highlights the complexities of cultural and racial encounter between the East and the West. Furthermore, the geo-political significance of San Francisco Chinatown by the Pacific Ocean, the new West that symbolizes an independent American nationhood away from European influences, complicates the issues of its racial and national identities. By examining its representations by Harte, Jackson and Stevenson, the paper proposes to rethink late-nineteenth-century San Francisco Chinatown in relation to Mary Louise Pratt’s idea of the “contact zone” (1992) that might allow various racial stereotypes, cultural confrontations and geo-political tensions to be negotiated, reflected upon, and reshaped.
Panel 4: Imagining the Pacific in Victorian Fiction
Geoffrey Baker (Yale-NUS College)
Pacific Travels, Pacific Ports, and the World in Trollope’s Later Fiction
During a span of nine years between 1868 and 1877—during which time he wrote and published all but one of the six Palliser novels (1864-76), as well as the increasingly popular The Way We Live Now (1875)—Anthony Trollope made four considerably long journeys to distant lands. A four-month trip to the United States in 1868 and one of six months to South Africa in 1877 bookend two voyages to Australia and New Zealand which lasted nineteen months (1871-72) and eight months (1875) respectively, and which also saw Trollope travel elsewhere in the Pacific; both times, he returned via the United States. As always, he wrote, including a book on Australia and New Zealand and shorter pieces published in English newspapers like the Liverpool Mercury. While these are always cited in biographical studies of Trollope, they have been absent from critical studies of his evolution as a writer of novels set in England, and they have not been subjected to serious scrutiny in their own right for their contribution to Victorian constructions of the Pacific. In this paper, I argue that Trollope’s travels and travel writings had a significant impact on the direction of his London fiction and its depiction of not just the Pacific but also of space more generally. I attend especially to the Palliser novels and The Way We Live Now. While scholars have taken notice of the manner in which the wide world and geopolitics become increasingly important concerns in the later Trollope (e.g., Lauren Goodlad’s The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic), they have not yet examined how Trollope’s travels among Pacific ports appear vital to these concerns. I contend that the Pacific experience and Trollope’s depiction of the mixture afforded by Pacific ports opened his depiction of London to the worldliness that has come to define his late fiction. This worldliness becomes an essential trait of Trollope’s depiction of domestic spaces and culture, and an essential force in altering as well the form of Trollope’s realism as it grapples with narrative complications that arise when plots become more global in scope, and the novel becomes a port of its own.
David Chandler (Doshisha University)
Selling China to Japan: George Grossmith’s Cups and Saucers
Cups and Saucers is a musical duologue written and composed by George Grossmith, the celebrated singer, in 1876. Extremely popular, it was performed hundreds of times in the next two decades, most notably as a curtain raiser for the Gilbert and Sullivan HMS Pinafore of 1878. At this period of Western fascination with Japan, Cups and Saucers offered a unique perspective on Japanese life and the early consequences of opening Japan to international trade. Central to Grossmith’s comic scenario is the idea that the Japanese, because of the voracious demands of Western markets for their china, are themselves suffering from an acute shortage of chinaware: “One little town in Japan had been completely cleared out of every cup and saucer, and the poor Japanese were compelled to drink their tea out of ink bottles.” The solution of General Deelah, Grossmith’s hero, to this predicament is to sell “English china” to Japan and, further, to organise its manufacture in Japan. This paper argues that Grossmith’s comedy is a very interesting “take” on the actual trade and cultural situation at the time. He imagines, in effect, a symmetrical relationship between the two island countries, both full of tea drinkers, and both, unfortunately, prejudiced in favour of antique products. The Japan evoked here is far from the fantastical, romanticised or timeless visions of the country on offer elsewhere; rather, it is both victim and potential beneficiary of recent Western trade, as well as a likely “gateway” to the Far East for British manufacturing and culture.
Panel 5: Port Interactions
Chie Suzuki, Tsuda University
Monks and Missionaries: The Reception of Christianity in Yokohama in the Early Meiji Era
There is no such thing as an apolitical religion. In other words, every religion is subsumed under ideology. After concluding the 1858 treaty, the port city of Yokohama started to function as a gateway of introducing Western ideas including Christianity to Japan. Nevertheless, since the new Meiji government set a goal of implementing a Shinto religious policy as the national religion, Christians regularly faced oppression and were under close surveillance. In fact, the Meiji government conducted a severe persecution of native ‘hidden Christians’, which mostly targeted Christian communities in Kyushu area between 1867 and 1873. The edict against Christianity was finally abolished in 1873 and a large number of missionaries from Western countries, such as America, Britain, France, came to Yokohama and they established their missions and schools. This paper focuses on the official reports which include meticulous observations of the foreign missionaries’ activities in Yokohama, written by the twelve Japanese Buddhist monks who were entrusted by the Meiji government from December 1872 to April 1874. The close analysis of this report reveals counterbalance and tension between the Japanese government and the Western imperialism from a Japanese perspective, which enables differentiation from previous studies on Christian permeation in Yokohama since they tend to draw upon primary sources written by Western missionaries and travelers. This paper also wishes to consider the political dynamics of this cross-cultural encounter by employing world-systems frameworks in order to conceptualize socio-historical aspects in a global context. Religion and imperial ideology are inseparable and they even mutually reinforce each other. I wish to explore possibilities of deconstructing existing “East-West” dichotomy and instead to look at alternative models that represent totalities of the globalization.
Andrew Elliott (Doshisha Women’s College)
Intermediaries: The Roles, Writings, and Representation of Resident Consuls in Treaty Port Japan
Resident consuls played a variety of official and unofficial roles within the treaty ports of Bakumatsu and Meiji Japan, including trade broker, social organiser, traveller and travel advisor, lawyer, judge, and jailor, as well as being the primary punching-bag for disgruntled members of the foreign community. In addition to official dealings with the Bakufu then the Meiji Foreign Ministry, consuls provided points of contact between diverse groups in the treaty ports, Japan, the wider region, and beyond; and played a key role in the “opening” of the country, through treaty negotiations, the provision of travel documents to foreign residents and visitors, and their own published writings, which offered new firsthand impressions of a place long-troped as closed. In this sense, the consuls were gateway figures. Often in practice, however, consuls could be isolated, cut-off by geography, language, politics, or the threat of violence from open contact with their country of residence, and in these circumstances, their ability to exercise power as sovereign representatives was curtailed. In addition, consuls’ status as intermediaries could, and often was, read differently by those who had to deal directly with them, and both merchants and missionaries alike often saw them as obstacles, blocking the free flow of goods or religious ideas.
This paper will explore the inbetweenness of the resident consul, especially in the early years of Japan’s treaty ports, through analysis of their own diaries and memoirs, writings by wives, other residents and visitors, and fictional(ised) representations. Key figures and works include Hodgson’s A Residence at Nagasaki and Hakodate (1861), Alcock’s Capital of a Tycoon (1863), Michael Moss’ Seizure by Japanese of Michael Moss (1863), and especially Townsend Harris, first U.S. Consul-General in Shimoda. Harris’ own journal depicts this residence, but later narratives such as Yamada Kōsaku’s opera Yoake/Kurofune or “Dawn/Black Ships” (1940, a transpacific collaboration, with pro-Japan U.S. journalist Percy Noel, in its own right) and John Huston’s The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958) have invested it with particular significance, in terms of Harris’ physical and psychological isolation, romantic involvement with the geisha Okichi, and shifting US-Japan political relations.
Panel 6: Editing the Pacific
Ayako Wada (Tottori University)
Hawkesworth’s An Account of theVoyages Revisited as a Gateway to Knowledge
It is well known that Britain sent the Endeavour to the South Seas from 1768 to 1771 to carry out the first scientific expedition at the request of the Royal Society: the central mission was to observe the Transit of Venus across the sun on 3rd June, 1769 for the crucial knowledge of astronomical unit -- the distance between the earth and the sun. George’s Island (soon renamed Otaheite), discovered by Samuel Wallis in 1767, was chosen as the astronomical observation post and visited by James Cook accompanied by Charles Green, Joseph Banks, Daniel Carl Solander and others. It was John Hawkesworth who was commissioned by the Admiralty to publish An Account of the Voyages (1773) based on the journals and papers of the navigators of the southern hemisphere. In its ‘Dedication’ to the King, Hawkesworth claims that ‘in little more than seven years, discoveries have been made far greater than those of all the navigators in the world collectively from the expedition of Columbus to the present’. This paper, focusing on discoveries at Tahiti, aims to take a fresh look at Hawkesworth’s Voyages, explore a variety of responses to them and elucidate their impact on British society.
Alex Watson (Nagoya University)
Footnotes to History: Polynesian Marginality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Song of Rahéro: A Legend of Tahiti” and “The Feast of Famine: Marquesan Manners” (1890)
In his 1890 collection, Ballads, Robert Louis Stevenson presents two extended poetic narratives of feasting and intertribal warfare in Polynesia: “The Song of Rahéro: A Legend of Tahiti” and “The Feast of Famine: Marquesan Manners”. Alongside the verse of each, Stevenson places a series of notes, in which he provides definitions of Tahitian and Marquesan terms and quasi-anthropological information about local culinary practices, fishing methods, household implements and legends and superstitions, drawing on his travel experiences in the region in 1889.
In one sense, Stevenson uses these notes to frame the poems as ethnographic artefacts— “received from tradition”—for the purview of European and North American readers. In another, he addresses them to a Pacific readership, claiming to have one note to satisfy “Mr. Tati Salmon, hereditary high chief of the Tevas”. In so doing, he seeks to establish the beginnings of a written Polynesian history to augment existing oral traditions. Importantly, by presenting these two poems alongside two Highlands ballads “Ticonderoga: A Legend of the West Highlands” and “Heather Ale: A Galloway Legend”, Stevenson implies an affinity between the island peoples of Polynesia and the Scottish Highlanders—a parallel that led contemporary reviewer William Cosmo Monkhouse to complain “[t]he effort to become a Polynesian Walter Scott is a little too obvious”. In other notes, however, Stevenson undermines the historical status of these verses altogether, describing “The Feast” as “a patchwork of details of manners and the impressions of a traveler”.
In this paper, I examine Stevenson’s use of the textual margins as a gateway between fiction and non-fiction, written and oral, civilized and non-civilized, Pacific protagonist and Atlantic audience, text and author. Stevenson’s subsequent decision to entitle his 1892 anticolonial history of the Samoan Civil War between 1882 and 1892, A Footnote to History suggests that he perceived an analogy between the geopolitical status of Polynesia and the margins of the page. I argue that Stevenson uses annotation to position Polynesia as a “marginal” location: on a contradictory and contestatory periphery of the capitalist modernity; subordinate to, yet possessing the capacity to challenge imperial centres.
Tomoe Kumojima (Nara Women’s University)
‘“A daughter of the East, a child of the West”: Yei Theodora Ozaki, Anglo-Japanese Miscegenation, and Feminine Literary Diplomacy’
Yei Theodora Ozaki, author of The Japanese Fairy Book (1903), Warriors of Old Japan and Other Stories (1909), and Romances of Old Japan (1919), is an Anglo-Japanese writer who was born between a Japanese politician-father and an English mother. Besides the aforementioned books, she contributed numerous articles and short stories about Japanese tradition, history, and literature to both British and American periodicals, thus offering to the Western readers an intimate window to the Far-Eastern country. She also served as an interpreter for a Times war correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War and witnessed first-hand the Japanese campaign in Korea and China. She married Ozaki Yukio, an eminent politician who was a Tokyo mayor when the city presented cheery tree saplings to Washington, D.C. as a symbol of the U.S.-Japanese friendship. Ozaki’s letter to the then First Lady, Helen Herron Taft, which testifies the diplomatic bond established between the two women, is housed in the Library of Congress.
This paper explores the life and works of this undeservedly obscure writer, focusing on Ozaki’s racial/national singularity in the highly homogeneous Meiji Japanese society and the paradiplomatic role she played through literature. I consult the body of unpublished private correspondence and manuscripts alongside published literary works and contemporary newspaper articles. Her torment for her interracial descent is amply attested by her poignant and surprisingly honest personal letters. This racial in-betweenness, however, afforded Ozaki as a writer a unique double persona as an authoritative Japanese native informant and a skilled Western cultural interpreter for her British and American audience. This paper also examines the political efforts Ozaki made as an internationally acknowledged writer. It uncovers an obliterated literary circle of female friends and their international war efforts in Japan, Britain, and America against Russian expansionist ambitions.
Ozaki and her works give us a rare gateway to the reality and psychology of the marginal group of interracial children in Meiji Japan by their own account and the transnational female collaboration and bonding at the turn of the century.