BF. William Empson

26. Gill, Roma, ed. William Empson: The Man and His Work. London: Routledge and Paul, 1974.

a. Raine, Kathleen. ‘Extracts from Unpublished Memoirs’. Raine recalls moments from her friendship with Empson and mentions in passing his letters to her from Japan. She notes that as an undergraduate he was drawn to the ‘oriental gods’ at the British Museum, and that Arthur Waley (see D26) was often in attendance at his parties at Cambridge. Raine was as well one of the few who read the complete manuscript of Asymmetry in Buddha Faces (see 29), and recalls here a passage from that work, though recounts slightly different details about its loss than those noted in Haffenden. Reprinted, with minor revisions, in Raine’s The Land Unknown (New York.: Braziller, 1975).

b. Fukuhara, Rintarô (Ap). ‘Mr William Empson in Japan’. The fullest account of Empson’s years in Japan, written by his department head at Tokyo University of Literature and Science. Includes details of Fukuhara’s first meeting with Empson, at the Imperial Hotel at Russell Square, London, 23 May 1931, arranged by Ichikawa Sanki (Ap) upon the recommendation of Ichikawa’s friend and Empson’s tutor at Cambridge, I. A. Richards. ‘After half an hour’s talk the young poet was quite ready to come over to Japan’, Fukuhara notes. Provides details of Empson’s teaching schedule, leisure activities, friendships, and arrival and departure in the country, and details as well a hurried meeting in the summer of 1950 or 1951 when Fukuhara and G. S. Fraser (Ap) met Empson on board a steamer at Yokohama while he was in transit from the United States to China. Includes also brief notes about Blunden’s residence in Japan.

c. Bottrall, Ronald. William Empson. Bottrall’s poem recalls episodes from Empson’s life. Lines 30-48 are about his years in Japan, where, Bottrall claims, Empson ‘became a National Treasure’, though ‘His Japanese students were trying to construe / In other words and at their leisure / A few well-known English proverbs’ and ‘“Out of sight, out of mind” became / “Invisible, insane”’. Includes mention of Sansom’s wife, Katherine, the ‘whiskey diet’ Empson ‘rode to work on’, and other episodes, including his ‘love-play with the parlour-maid / Of the somewhat sinister Swiss Minister’. Mrs. Nishiwaki (l. 37), who apparently taught Empson painting, was perhaps the wife of the Keio University Professor of English Literature J[unzaburô] Nishiwaki (see also BD7 and BK78a and d), who had studied in England and was responsible for bringing Sherard Vines (Ap) to Japan.





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