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The Chrysantheme Papers

The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysantheme and Other Documents of French Japonsime

Christopher Reed

Publication Year: 2010

Pierre Loti’s novel Madame Chrysanthème (1888) enjoyed great popularity during the author’s lifetime, served as a source of Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, and remains in print to this day as a classic in Western literature. Loti’s story, cast in the form of his fictionalized diary, describes the affair between a French naval officer and Chrysanthème, a temporary "bride" purchased in Nagasaki. More broadly, Loti’s novel helped define the terms in which Occidentals perceived Japan as delicate, feminine, and, to use one of Loti’s favorite words, "preposterous"—in short, ripe for exploitation. The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanthème (1893) sought, according to a newspaper reviewer at the time, "to avenge Japan for the adjectives that Pierre Loti has inflicted on it." Written by Félix Régamey, a talented illustrator with firsthand knowledge of Japan, The Pink Notebook retells Loti’s story but this time as the diary of Chrysanthème. The book, presented here in English for the first time and together with the original French text and illustrations by Régamey and others, is certainly surprising in its late nineteenth-century context. Its retelling of a classic tale from the position of a character marginalized by her sex and race provocatively anticipates certain aspects of postmodern literature. Translator Christopher Reed’s rich and satisfying introduction compares Loti and Régamey in relation to attitudes toward Japan held by notable Japonistes Vincent van Gogh, Lafcadio Hearn, Edmond de Goncourt, and Philippe Burty. Reed provides further intellectual context by including new translations of excerpts from Loti’s novel as well as a portion of the travel journal of Régamey’s travel companion, the renowned collector Emile Guimet. Reed’s emphasis on competing Western ideas about Japan challenges conventional scholarly generalizations concerning Japanism in this era. This elegant translation of The Pink Notebook and Japoniste documents will delight both general and specialized readers, particularly those interested in the ambiguities in the dynamics of nationalism, gender, identification, and exploitation that, since the nineteenth century, have characterized the West’s relationship to Japan.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

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pp. vii

This book is dedicated to my father, Gervais Reed, whose expert assistance is manifested in the translation. It is inspired by him in other ways as well. Raised in a small town in rural Kansas, my father went to Reims, France, as a high school exchange student in the early days of the Experiment in International Living. With the help of his host ...

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pp. 1-60

That Pierre Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème is a key text in the history of Occidental perceptions of Japan is often averred: “in the late nineteenth century Loti’s Japan became Europe’s Japan,” and “no other French work had such an impact in shaping attitudes toward Japan...

Part I: The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanth

The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanth

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pp. 63

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Notes on the Translation

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pp. 64

This translation preserves Régamey’s nineteenth-century francophone romanizations of Japanese terms; thus, “Tokio-Chimboum” (Tokyo newspaper), rather than either Tokyo...

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Preface: The Japanese Soul and the Japan of Monsieur Pierre Loti

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pp. 67-76

“Remove this monkey business!” said Louis XIV, disdainfully touching with his cane some of those superb paintings of the Dutch school that are the glory of museums today. And now comes a famous French author to prove, by his writings on Japan, an incompetence equal to...

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pp. 77-78

You were indulgent and kind to your little Chrysanth

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The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanth

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pp. 79-91

Returning home, I found Oyouki, my little neighbor, trembling and all upset, and that worsened the anxiety I felt about not seeing her at the party at the Garden of Flowers, where we were supposed to meet. This is what happened: A big European naval...

Le Cahier Rose de Mme Chrysanth

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pp. 93

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Preface: L'Ame japonaise et le Japon

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pp. 95-104

...« Ôtez-moi ces magots! » disait Louis XIV, en touchant dédaigneuse-ment de sa canne quelques-uns de ces superbes tableaux de l’école hollandaise, qui sont la gloire des musées de nos jours. Et voilà qu’un fameux littérateur français vient nous donner la preuve, dans ses écrits sur le Japon, d’une incompétence égale à celle du grand ...

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pp. 105-106


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Le Cahier Rose de Madame Chrysanth

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pp. 107-120

In rentrant à la maison je trouve Oyouki, ma petite voisine, tremblante et toute défaite, et cela augmente l’inquiétude que j’éprouvais de ne l’avoir pas vue à la fête du Jardin des Fleurs...

Part II. Selections from "Madame Chrysanth

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Introductory Note

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pp. 123-126

The following selections from Emile Guimet’s Promenades japonaises (two volumes published in 1878 and 1880) and Pierre Loti’s 1887 Madame Chrysanthème exemplify the precedents Régamey had in mind when he composed The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanthème. ...

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Madame Chrysanth

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pp. 127-134

At first it was no more than a series of pink mountaintops (the foremost archipelago of Fuka

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Madame Chrysanth

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pp. 135-142

Ce ne fut d’abord qu’une série de petits sommets roses (l’archipel avancé des Fukaï, au soleil levant). Mais derrière, tout le long de l’horizon, on vit bientôt comme une lourdeur en l’air, comme un viole pesant sur les eaux: c’était cela, le vrai Japon, et peu à peu,...

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Walks through Japan

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pp. 143-151

When at last, after a crossing of twenty-three days, we caught sight of the Japanese coast drawing its strange silhouettes in the morning fog, our souls were seized by two emotions...

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"Promenades Japonaises"

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pp. 153-161

Lorsqu’après vingt-trois jours de traversée on entrevoit les terres japonaises dessiner, dans les brumes du matin, leurs silhouettes étranges, une double émotion envahit l’âme....

Index to the Introductory Essays

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pp. 163-165

E-ISBN-13: 9780824860721
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824833459

Publication Year: 2010