Rai San’yō’s Nihon gaishi, sometimes credited as a possible source of inspiration for the Meiji Restoration, is a grand, sweeping history of the rise of Japan’s warrior class from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries. Gaishi was a massive best seller in nineteenth-century Japan, had become a national classic by the century’s end, and continued to be popular well into the century that followed. Focusing on the period 1870–1915, this article explores several previously unstudied translations of Gaishi into English, French, and Russian; its promotion in the United States; and its printing and circulation in China. As the article shows, Gaishi was translated earlier and more broadly than other Japanese texts, including the celebrated Tale of Genji; moreover, its various translations and their reception also reveal a globe-spanning debate over differing concepts of literary value and whether effective literary translation was actually possible between “Asia” and the “West.”


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pp. 69-115
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