The Journal of Japanese Studies

 

Abstract

INDRA LEVY
“Comedy” Can Be Deadly: Or, How Mark Twain Killed Hara Hōitsuan
 

In the April 6, 1903, edition of the Tōkyō asahi shinbun, best-selling translator Hara Hōitsuan published “Shiizā sansatsu jiken,” his rendition of a burlesque by Mark Twain titled “The Killing of Julius Caesar ‘Localized.’” This minor translation of a minor text by a world-famous American author sparked a virulent public debate between Hara and Yamagata Iso’o, who was incensed by the translator’s failure to grasp Twain’s subtle sense of humor. This essay examines the 1903 Hara-Twain controversy for what it reveals about the status of literary laughter as an object of knowledge via translation in Meiji Japan.

Volume 37, Number 2 (Summer 2011)
© 2011 Society for Japanese Studies


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