Mark Twain in Japan: Mark Twain's literature and 20th century Japanese juvenile literature and popular culture
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The main goal of this project is to examine the transformation of Mark Twain’s literature in Japanese translations and adaptations in the sphere of 20th century Japanese popular culture and juvenile literature. This project also has two principal focuses: First, it will introduce Japanese versions of Mark Twain’s literature which have been overlooked by scholars, but have had an important impact on the formation of the public image of Mark Twain and his works in 20th century Japan. Second, it will discuss the ways in which both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture transformed Twain’s originals and shaped 20th century Japanese versions of Mark Twain and his literature. This project will discuss Japanese translations and adaptations in chronological order: Taisho Democracy in the 1920s (Chapter 1); Wartime Japan from the 1930s to 1945 (Chapter 2); post-WWII era from 1945- the 1950s (Chapter 3); the 1970s -the ‘90s (Chapter 4). Each chapter examines works which represent Japanese relationships with Twain’s literature in each era. Chapter one discusses Kuni Sasaki’s Huckleberry Monogatari (1921), the first Japanese translation of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This chapter mainly shows that Sasaki bowdlerized Huck Finn for Japanese juvenile readers following the conventions of Japanese juvenile literature of the time. Chapter two examines Jiro Osaragi’s samurai novel, “Hanamaru Kotorimaru” (1939), an adaptation of Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, in particular, Osaragi’s emphasis on didacticism, rigidity of class hierarchy, and patriarchal relationships, which were all significant elements in contemporary Imperial Japan. Chapter three discusses Japanese juvenile translations of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn during the American occupation after WWII. This chapter demonstrates that Japanese translators not only idealized Tom and Huck as democratic American heroes but also considerably tamed them out of concern that those untamed heroes might justify juvenile delinquency which was very common in the postwar moral confusion. The final chapter discusses the ways in which the three Japanese animated adaptations of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn transformed Twain’s originals in accordance with the changing trend of both Japanese juvenile television animations and late 20th century Japanese society.