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An examination on the reception of Joseph Conrad in modern Japan

In this article, I will examine the reception of Conrad’s works in modern Japan. Based on various writings and records of the reception from the 1910s to the 1940s, I will trace the Japanese reception of Conrad’s works. The overview will reveal that there were certain characteristics in the reception of Conrad throughout modern Japan: there were many people who read Conrad’s works as English language texts in high schools and universities, but there were few people who considered seriously the importance of their social or political implications during the 1920s and the early 1940s. Many scholars and novelists in modern Japan could not mention or notice the dark side of Japanese colonialism or imperialism through reading Conrad’s works. In fact, his “political” novels such as Nostromo, Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes, were not also translated by the end of the Second World War. Finally, I will demonstrate the limitations of the reception in modern Japan as shown in Japanese Conradians’ attitudes towards the novelist.

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