BJ. William Plomer

17. Conversations With my Younger Self. Barnet [Hertfordshire]: Stellar, 1963.

  Reprinted in Electric Delights.  

A ‘conversation’ between Plomer at fifty-nine and his ‘younger self’, part of which takes place while the latter is resident in Japan. The younger man is treated with ‘hospitality, kindness, and courtesy’ by the Japanese, but it is a time of ‘strain and crisis’ for a country that is ‘torn between the past and . . . future’ and ‘under . . . violent pressure and threat of change’. The younger Plomer feels great sympathy particularly for the young of Japan, in their ‘hopes and despairs and bewilderment, and . . . their awful lack of freedom of speech and even of movement’. He has grown accustomed to Japanese life, and formed strong emotional bonds, but he knows that if he remains too long he will become ‘permanently displaced’, for he is ‘isolated’ and ‘completely cut off’ from Europeans of his own ‘age, kind, and inclinations’. He asks his older self to assess his ‘writings about Japan’, and the older voice comforts him with assurances that he writes of the country ‘without patronizing or sentimentalizing’ and has ‘foreshadow[ed] the danger and folly of Japanese militarism’. Originally a radio broadcast, 12 December 1962, on the BBC Third Programme, with Plomer reading the part of his older self. Reprinted in 25.





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