Names and Perspectives in Sute-Obune: A Meiji-Era Adaptive Translation of the Mary Braddon Mystery Novel, Diavola

By Ian McArthur and Mio Bryce.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

For just a few decades from the 1880s, a large number of European mystery novels were serialised in Japanese newspapers, in the form of adaptive translations (hon’an mono). The alterations to the original texts included names of characters and places, as well as tone and plot, to familiarise readers with European cultures, geographies and notions of modernity within the Japanese psychological framework. Such translations are an interesting example of how the mass media facilitated intercultural transaction in early modern Japan. One such example is Kuroiwa Ruikô’s Sute obune (abandoned small boat), serialised in 156 episodes in his newspaper Yorozu chôhô (October 1894 and July 1895). This work was an adaptive translation of the Mary Braddon mystery novel Diavola, originally published in the London Journal between October 1866 and July 1867. In Sute obune, Ruikô altered characters’ names to Japanese, offering a peculiar intertexual image - characters with Japanese names thoroughly at home in a European environment. This paper will focus on an intertexual analysis of names and perspectives in Ruikô’s Sute obune compared to the Braddon original, Diavola. The Japanese names chosen for characters in Sute obune are suggestive of their status, attitude and personality, as exemplified by the cold-blooded and scheming poisoner Kawabayashi, for whose name Ruikô used the Chinese characters signifying “skin” and “forest”).

Keywords: Intertexuality, Mary Braddon, Diavola, Kuroiwa Ruikô, Sute-Obune, A Meiji-Era Adaptive Translation (Hon’an Mono), Names

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.141-152. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 593.252KB).

Dr. Ian McArthur

Lecturer, Humanities, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Ian McArthur is a Lecturer in the Department of Asian Languages, Macquarie University, Sydney. His research interests include the role of various media, including, professional storytellers, dramatic arts, and adaptive translations, in the transfer of European models of modernity into Meiji-period Japan. He has a PhD in Asian Studies from the University of Sydney.

Dr. Mio Bryce

Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Mio Bryce is Senior lecturer and Head of Japanese Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney, where she teaches Japanese language, literature and manga/anime. She has a PhD in Japanese classical literature (The Tale of Genji) from the University of Sydney.

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