D. Sources of Influence and Transmission

18. Wisdom of the East Series. 1905~57.

The Wisdom of the East Series has both reflected and shaped the English-language discourse of Asia. The series was begun by John Murray (1851-1928), the 4th John Murray of 7 to head John Murray Ltd, publisher of Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Byron, Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria, and others, 50 Albermarle Street, London ().

From the first number in 1900 through the century John Murray’s Wisdom of the East Series has provided hundreds of titles from and about the ‘orient’, and especially before the Second World War was responsible for much of what was known of East Asia in Europe and the United States, the latter via Murray’s partnership with the New York publisher E. P. Dutton. Aldington mentions the series in regard to his wish for an ‘organised set of translations’ of Asian ‘classics’ (BB15d), but writing from Paris complains that the works are ‘difficult to obtain’. The fact is, however, that Murray’s titles have been on book shop shelves in the cities of the English-speaking world throughout the century, and more than any ‘organised set’ of works have shaped and reflected the British, Irish, and American discourse about both Asia in general and Japan in particular. In addition to Chamberlain’s translation from Kaibara Ekiken (1905, see D5a), Binyon’s Flight of the Dragon (1911, BC9), Noguchi’s Spirit of Japanese Poetry and Spirit of Japanese Art (1914 and 1915, see D15e and D15e6), works about Japanese subjects in the series in the first half of the century include, along with sections in numerous studies of Buddhism, Clara Walsh’s Master Singers of Japan (1910, translations from Japanese poetry), Ken Hoshino’s The Way of Contentment (1913, translations from Kaibara Ekiken), E. V. Gatenby’s The Cloud-Men of Yamato (1929, a study of mysticism in Japanese literature), Nobuko Kobayashi’s The Sketch Book of the Lady Sei Shônagon [Ap] (1930, translation from Makura no sôshi), Ryûkichi Kurata’s The Harvest of Leisure (1931, translation of Kenkô’s Tsurezuregusa [Ap]), S. Yamabe and L. Adams Beck’s Buddhist Psalms (1931, translations from Shinran [1173-1263] founder of Jôdoshinshû Buddhism), Beatrice Lane Suzuki’s Nôgaku (1932, translation and study of the nô), and Alan Watts’s The Spirit of Zen (1936). In the years following the Second World War the series continued with two works that played a significant role in the post-war re-emergence of literary interest in Japan, Donald Keene’s seminal Japanese Literature: An Introduction for Western Readers (1953) and D. J. Enright and Takamichi Ninomiya’s anthology, The Poetry of Living Japan (1957).





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