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Japanese Power

Richard Bowring, 14 June 1990

God’s Dust: A Modern Asian Journey 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 267 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 224 02493 0
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol V: The 19th Century 
edited by Marius Jansen.
Cambridge, 828 pp., £60, October 1989, 0 521 22356 3
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol. VI: The 20th Century 
edited by Peter Duus.
Cambridge, 866 pp., £60, June 1989, 0 521 22357 1
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... At the last triennial meeting of the European Association for Japanese Studies in late September 1988 the major talking-point was the extraordinary outburst of anti-Japanese feeling which in parts of the British press greeted the news of Emperor Hirohito’s final illness. Later in the new year, as the gruesome saga of the Emperor’s coma continued, we heard that the journalist Edward Behr had just finished a BBC documentary which promised, with exquisite timing, to blow the lid off the ‘Hirohito myth ...

Fan-de-Siècle

Brigid Brophy, 6 October 1983

Murasaki Shikibu: Her Diary and Poetic Memoirs, A Translation and Study 
by Richard Bowring.
Princeton, 290 pp., £21.70, August 1982, 0 691 06507 1
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Evelina 
by Fanny Burney.
Oxford, 421 pp., £2.50, April 1982, 0 19 281596 2
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The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney 
edited by Peter Hughes and Warren Derry.
Oxford, 624 pp., £37.50, September 1980, 0 19 812507 0
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Colette 
by Joanna Richardson.
Methuen, 276 pp., £12.95, June 1983, 0 413 48780 6
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Letters from Colette 
translated by Robert Phelps.
Virago, 214 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 86068 252 8
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... with Japanese to a degree he makes plain even to me who know not a syllable of the language, Richard Bowring has forfeited some command of English. That looks all the likelier when he skids into bad grammar: ‘ ... sent to whomever was to copy out the story’. Or perhaps both the ‘indiscrete’ and the ‘whomever’ are misprints. If so, there ...

Georgian eyes are smiling

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1988

Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: The Search for Love, 1856-1898 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 486 pp., £16, September 1988, 0 7011 3332 5
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Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Vol. IV 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 946 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 370 31130 2
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Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. Vol. VIII 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 175 pp., $25, April 1988, 0 271 00613 7
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Shaw’s Sense of History 
by J.L. Wisenthal.
Oxford, 186 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812892 4
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Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. III: 1903-1907 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 532 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 521 32387 8
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Joseph Conrad: ‘Nostromo’ 
by Ian Watt.
Cambridge, 98 pp., £12.50, April 1988, 0 521 32821 7
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... and more regular treatments – of L’Etranger by Patrick McCarthy, and of The Tale of Genji by Richard Bowring – with a great many more to come. So far, Shaw is absent from a list which includes Dickens, Homer, Dante, Rousseau, Goethe, Woolf, Constant, Balzac, Mann and Tolstoy: so it is as well that he is being taken care of ...

High Spirits

E.S. Turner, 17 March 1988

Living dangerously 
by Ranulph Fiennes.
Macmillan, 263 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 333 44417 5
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The Diaries of Lord Louis Mountbatten 1920-1922: Tours with the Prince of Wales 
edited by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, November 1987, 0 00 217608 4
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Touch the Happy Isles: A Journey through the Caribbean 
by Quentin Crewe.
Joseph, 302 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2822 2
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... British’ was the Prince of Wales’s description of the much-bally-hooed voyage of the Benjamin Bowring. In between the set-pieces of Pole-bashing eight sales exhibitions were staged in the world’s more congenial places and members of the expedition contracted 17 marriages, either to each other or to outsiders: all very different from those old-time ...

Can history help?

Linda Colley: The Problem with Winning, 22 March 2018

... Actors in Britain’s overseas empire needed more than just European languages. Sir John Bowring, the fourth governor of Hong Kong, claimed to speak a hundred languages and dialects, and was certainly adept at more than thirty. Such men, you may protest, were exceptional elite figures. True enough, but there is plenty of evidence of British and Irish ...

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