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A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan
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Book description

The translation of texts has played a formative role in Japan's history of cultural exchange as well as the development of literature, and indigenous legal and religious systems. This is the first book of its kind, however, to offer a comprehensive survey of the role of translation in Japan during the Tokugawa period, 1600–1868. By examining a wide range of translations into Japanese from Chinese, Dutch and other European texts, as well as the translation of classical Japanese into the vernacular, Rebekah Clements reveals the circles of intellectual and political exchange that existed in early modern Japan, arguing that, contrary to popular belief, Japan's 'translation' culture did not begin in the Meiji period. Examining the 'crisis translation' of military texts in response to international threats to security in the nineteenth century, Clements also offers fresh insights into the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1868.

Reviews

'Clements’ book is a thorough and extensively annotated look at the kinds of early modern texts that were translated, who translated them, and the various and fascinating forms that those translations took … one of the strengths of this book is the depth of scholarship evident throughout and the ease with which she navigates discussions of such varied fields as translation theory, Confucian studies, and classical Japanese poetry. The book provides new insights into Dutch studies, vernacular translation, and the importance of Chinese texts and translations, as well as a new perspective on early modern Japanese cultural production reflected in a wide range of translation practices, making it a welcome addition to scholarship on the period.'

Source: Journal of Jesuit Studies

'The early modern period in Japan was an age of translation, and now we finally have a monograph that presents the critical impact that translations had in the cultural life of that time … Thanks to Rebekah Clements’s study, future scholars will be able to engage with the various semiotic negotiations of Tokugawa translation practices on the solid foundation she has built.'

Federico Marcon Source: Monumenta Nipponica

'This publication is uncontestably a milestone … for early modern Japan specialists. This much-needed and wide overview of translation activities results in a comprehensive examination of fields that are usually discussed separately and that cater to a Japanese reading public for various purposes. It places important elements of early modern life in Japan in a new light.'

Margarita Winkel Source: H-Japan

'A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan is a most welcome addition to the study of Japanese history and translation.'

Akiko Uchiyama Source: Translation Studies

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