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Political Theatre: The Rise and Fall of Rome and The Sword of Freedom, Two Translations of Julius Caesar in Meiji Japan by Kawashima Keizō and Tsubouchi Shōyō

From: Asian Theatre Journal
Volume 28, Number 1, Spring 2011
pp. 168-183 | 10.1353/atj.2011.0004



Julius Caesar initially seems a curious choice for the first two full translations of Shakespeare into Japanese. In seeking to understand the early popularity of the play, this article examines the translations by Kawashima Keizō and Tsubouchi Shōyō within the context of performative modes of political discourse in 1880s Japan. This article argues that Shōyō's translation demonstrates a naturalizing translation strategy and a progressive political agenda, while Kawashima's translation strategy is foreignizing and is allied with the establishment. It further argues that their diametrically opposed interpretations are both inscribed in the source text and manifest themselves in ways that address political and historical conditions specific to the early Meiji period (1868-1912).