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Mirror in the Shrine By Robert A. Rosenstone

Mirror in the Shrine

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Based on the travels of Griffis, Morse, and Hearn in the late 1800s, these stories evoke the immediacy of daily experience in Meiji, Japan, a nation still feudal in many of its habits yet captivating to Westerners for its gentleness, beauty, and pure charm. Illustrated.

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Mirror in the Shrine Summary

Mirror in the Shrine: American Encounters with Meiji Japan by Robert A. Rosenstone

In the last third of the nineteenth century, three Americans with diverse purposes sailed to Japan-the missionary William Elliot Griffis, the scientist Edward S. Morse, and the writer Lafcadio Hearn. They were to become part of the first generation of American experts on Japan, regularly quoted and widely read. More significantly, their own lives were vastly changed, broadened and enriched in unexpected ways, so that their thoughts dwelt as much on what Americans could learn from the pagan Japanese as on what Americans could teach them. In telling these stories, Robert Rosenstone evokes the immediacy of daily experience in Meiji Japan, a nation still feudal in many of its habits yet captivating to Westerners for the gentleness of the people, the beauty of the landscape, the human scale of the unspoiled old towns, and the charm of arts and manners. He describes the odyssey of the ambitious and strong-minded Christian minister Griffis, who won few converts but, as a teacher, assisted at the birth of modern Japan. He portrays the natural scientist Morse, a born collector who turned from amassing mollusks to assembling comprehensive collections of Japanese folk art and pottery. He recounts Lafcadio Hearn's fourteen years in Japan. Hearn, who married a Japanese, became a citizen, and found in his new homeland ideal subject matter for exotic tales of ghosts, demons, spectral lovers, local gods and heroes, spells, enchantments. Rosenstone recreates the sights and textures of Meiji Japan, but Mirror in the Shrine brings to the reader much more than a traditional rendering. Rather, through the use of some of the techniques of modernist writing, the book provides a multi-voiced narrative in which the words of the present and the past interact to present a fresh view of historical reality. While charting the common stages of these three Americans' acculturation-growing to like the food, the architecture, the spareness, the mysterious etiquette-the work also highlights the challenges that Japan issues to American culture, in this century as well as in the last: Is it possible to find human fulfillment within the confines of a hierarchical, even repressive, social order? Is it possible for our culture to find a place of importance for such qualities as harmony, aesthetics, morals, manners? This is a book for anyone who is at all interested in Japan or in the meeting of East and West. The "old Japan hand" will reexperience the freshness of an early love; the newcomer will find it equally evocative and fascinating.

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Mirror in the Shrine Reviews

A fascinating study of cross-cultural encounters, written with great empathy not only for the three men but for the culture and the people they loved. -- Kunio Francis Tanabe Washington Post Book World Mirror in the Shrine does what we want historical biography to do: to speak through the sources and bring to life the trials, excitements, disappointments, joys, and ambitions of long-past souls. Rosenstone does this much and more. -- C. Andrew Gerstle Journal of Asian Studies

About Robert A. Rosenstone

Robert A. Rosenstone is Professor of History, California Institute of Technology.

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Mirror in the Shrine: American Encounters with Meiji Japan by Robert A. Rosenstone
Robert A. Rosenstone
Used - Very Good
Harvard University Press
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
This is a used book - there is no escaping the fact it has been read by someone else and it will show signs of wear and previous use. Overall we expect it to be in very good condition, but if you are not entirely satisfied please get in touch with us.