A SHEEP'S SONG by Kato Shuichi


A Writer's Reminiscences of Japan and the World
by & translated by
Age Range: 0 - 520
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paper 0-520-21979-1 A bestseller in Japan, where it has gone through more than 40 printings since its was first published in the late ’60s, this autobiography of a noted Japanese man of letters will strike many Western readers as serious, well-meaning, and mind-numbingly dull. Shuichi (History of Japanese Literature, not reviewed) came of age just as his homeland began its descent into the vociferous imperialist militarism that culminated in WWII. But politics and the international situation hardly affected his schooling, every minute didactic and pedagogical significance of which Shuichi seems compelled to detail. Though he was against the war, he kept his opposition largely to himself, waiting out the conflict as a medical student, then a doctor. After the war, he leapt at a rare chance to travel in Europe on a scholarship. Doing a little medical work, as well as translating and whatever other jobs he could pick up, Shuichi traveled extensively, living for substantial periods in France and England. Eventually, he decided to turn his full attention to writing and the world of academia, punching the clock at universities around the world. The original book ends in the early 1960s; an update for the English edition adds little beyond rÇsumÇ and curricula. Shuichi’s extensive comparisons between Japanese and Western culture seem stilted and shopworn, though they may have been interesting to his original Japanese readers. Translator Chang does an excellent job of providing helpful annotations throughout and gently guiding readers through the thicket of unfamiliar names and terms. The book has a thin degree of sociological interest, but its overwhelming effect is soporific. (13 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-520-20138-8
Page count: 508pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1999