D.N. Lammers
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Taking Japan seriously
in Asia in Western fiction
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This chapter reviews some Western novels and shorter fictions about Japan to see whether these literary portrayals of things Japanese do, in fact, amount to taking the country seriously. As Frank Ashton-Gwatkin, the Balliol-educated son of an Anglican cleric, 'John Paris' enjoyed a successful career in diplomacy, beginning in 1913 with a six-year posting to Japan. By the time Matsu appeared in 1932, Ashton-Gwatkin had long since left the Far Eastern section of the Foreign Office and was deeply immersed in the economic and political fallout from the Great Depression. The novel Sado and the story 'A Brutal Sentimentalist' resemble E. M. Forster's masterpiece, A Passage to India, in having as their focal point the question of whether the East and the West can ever achieve the friendship of equals.

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