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The Japanese Discovery of Europe, 1720-1830: Revised Edition 1st Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804706698
ISBN-10: 0804706697
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804706697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804706698
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,599,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen O. Murray VINE VOICE on April 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an expansion and revision of a book from early (1954) in the career of the great Columbia Japanologist Donald Keene. It surveys "the growth and uses of Western learning: in late-18th and early 19th-century Japan. The primary figure Keene writes about is Honda Toshiaki (1744-1821). 74 of the books 246 pages are a translation of parts of Honda's <i>Secret Plan for Managing the Country</i> and <i>Tales of the West.</i>
Keene provides a fascinating account of Japanese views of what Europe might be like based on emerging understanding of European knowledge and technology. Before American gunships forced Japan open and the Meiji "restoration" embarked on a program of rapid industrialization (and militarization), there was a base of thought on trying to adapt what seemed useful from the west in ways compatible with Japanese conceptions of the essence of Japaneseness. Keene's classic book provides valuable background to understanding the rapid "modernization" and militarism of the late-19th-century (with successful wars with first China, then with Russia just before and just after the turn of the 20th century).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Green on March 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you even wanted to know how the Japanese saw themselves as a county and as a people in relation to the Europeans and other citizens of the world during the height of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, this is the book to pick up and read. Donald Keene offers a respectful, insightful, and tenored work that explores in detail the relationship that the Japan of the time period had with the Dutch traders and other foreigners who brought with them new and exciting inventions and ideas. The proselytizing Portuguese pushed their rugged brand of Catholism, eventually getting them kicked out. The empire making Russians had territory just North of Japan's main island. Though written in the mid 1960's Keene stirs clear from putting the Japanese and the Europeans on pedestals of influential superiority, which gives this book it's enduring qualities. As I read it. I got the sense that all of the players (countries) involved were acting and reacting to the world in which they lived.

Among some of the major historical figures, Honda Toshiaki, one of the original rangaku (Dutch culture in Japan) scholars, along with Otsuki Gentaku, Shiba Kokan, Sugita Genpaku, and others are mentioned in Keene's informative book as big men in Japan's pivotal age.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Japanese Discovery of Europe is said to be rather dated, but the story that unfolds is one of a desire to learn, fighting against the strictures of court and shogunate that said Western knowledge was, on the one hand, wrong, and on the other hand dangerous. So-called Dutch learning would eventually revitalise Japanese science but it would be a long haul, and many of the early advocates would be imprisoned or exiled, if not worse. The immediacy of the Russian threat on Japan's borders is very interesting to read about in this early period, adding another weapon to conservatism's arsenal.
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