The Periodical as Cultural Bellwether in Fin-de-Siecle England and Japan

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The Periodical as Cultural Bellwether in Fin-de-Siecle England and Japan

Thomas J. Tobin, The William Morris Society
The late-Victorian craze for all things Oriental produced Japanese decorative screens for the English drawing room, Oriental-style pottery for the English table, Aubrey Beardsley’s angular “japanned” prints for English parlor walls, and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado for English entertainment halls. The adoption of the mannerisms of the East by the West is well documented in the English periodicals in the 1890s. During the latest fin-de-siecle--the 1990s--there has been a flurry of commentary about the role played by popular nineteenth-century periodicals in creating and sustaining what Punch called the “Oriental Craze.”

However, in 1890s Japan, there was another craze going on: Pre-Raphaelitism. The Japanese were discovering the poetry and paintings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Pre-Raphaelite brethren, and Japanese periodicals reflected the medieval “aesthetic” of Rossetti, Swinburne, and Tennyson. As quickly as the West was absorbing Eastern motifs and attitudes, the Japanese were learning to admire and imitate the Pre-Raphaelites. This, too, was fueled by periodical literature, and in much the same way as it was happening in England.

This presentation serves as a means of investigating the role played by the popular periodicals in Japan in creating and sustaining an “Aesthetic Craze.” I will briefly examine the demand for japonisme as it is published in the British periodical press and compare it with the demand for Aestheticism in the Japanese periodical press. I posit that both crazes for foreign art and aesthetics may be traced to the political and economic trends of the time. Expanding markets and closing borders (reported in both countries’ newspapers) served to create tension between expansionist merchants and jingoist bureaucrats in each nation. The affectation of foreign tastes as fashionable, facilitated by the English and Japanese periodical presses, helped to break down barriers to international trade and communication.
If we take as a definition of japonisme an interest in the culture and art of the East, especially of Japan, then it is tempting to date the beginning of this phenomenon in England to the late 1700s and the chinoiserie craze. However, the periodical press in England largely ignored this trend, as Yumiko Yamamori observes:

Although Japanese export artefacts started the fashion for a Japanese style during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe, it was little more than a fad for exotic things. Japanese styles were applied purely for decorative effect.

Not until the opening of Japan by Commodore Perry in 1852 did many English artists become enamored of Japanese design. For example, James MacNeil Whistler and his friend Dante Gabriel Rossetti collected Japanese tiles, jewelry, and pottery, incorporating their motifs and in many cases the objects themselves into their paintings. As the century came to a close, the Japanese aesthetic had been adopted by such diverse artists as Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Crane. These examples, however, are merely the end results of a decades-long strategic “friendship campaign” by British merchants and government officials to play up the quality of Japanese goods and the nobility of the Japanese people. This trend between the 1860s and the 1890s is most easily illustrated in news reports and parodies in the British press. Garrett Droppers, after having spent some years teaching in Japan, wrote in 1900 that “perhaps no other country has received so much unstinted praise in the periodical literature of the past two decades” (163).
The most telling reason for such “friendship campaigns” by the British and Japanese governments is economic, and occurred during the 1860s and 1870s. Yamamori summarizes the relation between the early economic changes and the military situation in Japan:

The power of the Tokugawa government had been significantly lessened after these events and it became a matter of course that the Emperor would be restored to power. This was finally realised in 1868 (the Meiji Restoration) and the Samurai class vanished from Japan. Being aware of Chinese diplomatic and territorial defeats, the fear of Western invasion precipitated Japan towards modernisation as a Western style society and a world military power.

With regard to the changes which took place at the beginning of the Meiji era, Sir Rutherford Alcock noted in his article “Reform in Japan” in 1872 that

the Japanese are the only nation in the history of the world that has ever taken five centuries at a stride, and devoured in a decade all the space dividing feudalism and despotism from constitutional government and the other developments, commercial and municipal, of modern life.

Tomoko Sato points to several additional economic factors which contribiuted to the emphasis on strengthened trade between England and Japan:

The first National Industrial Exhibition (Naikoku Kangyo Hakuranaki) was held in 1877 in Tokyo. Throughout the Meiji period the Japanese government tried to use these exhibitions to promote industry and commerce. . . . Advertisements became more important and many companies used English texts in their advertisements to enhance their modern appeal and to reach foreign customers in cities such as Kobe and Yokohama. (Japan and Britain 123)

A telling result of such practices was a kind of cultural cross-pollination, in which Eastern and Western incorporated the styles of their new trade partners, as seen in exhibitions and periodical reports. Looking back, the Edinburgh Review pronounced in 1890 that “Speaking of the changes which were instituted at this time the late Marquis Ts’êng writes in his diary, ‘One of the first reforms the Japanese made was to exchange their national costume for European clothes, which was very stupid’” (“Progress in Japan,” 61).

A secondary reason for the encouragement of trade between the English and the Japanese was strategic: the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans were, by the early 1870s, at the brink of war, and each nation was appealing to Britain for military and economic aid. Because of good economic ties with the three Eastern nations, England was reluctant to offer open military aid to any of the combatants, especially since Russia--an especially powerful trading partner and naval power in the Pacific, had yet to show its collective military hand. Thus, Britain continued a policy of economic openness and military neutrality until the outcome of the “Asian Problem” was more certain.

The press, echoing the state, in the United Kingdom was noncomittal. In an article on “Russia on the Pacific” in 1893, the Edinburgh Review is cautious about Japanese military strength:

The commerce most readily assailable from Vladivostock is that in which Japan is largely interested; and it is no hazardous prediction to state that she is pretty sure to take care that it gets fair play in war, and also--as she is quite strong enough to do--to make her neutrality respected as long as she remains neutral. (134)

Two years later, the same organ continued the wait-and-see military stance:

There can be no doubt that the cardinal principle of our policy there should be the maintenance of friendly relations with Japan. The value of England’s cordial support is fully recognised by her forecasting statesmen; and even the jealousy of irresponsible politicians has been in a measure disarmed by England’s forwardness to settle the long-pending question of treaty revision. (152)

The trade between England and Japan was seen as a vital link betweent he two countries that would help to ward off possible acrimony if England were forced into supporting Japan’s enemies in the military situation brewing on the Asian continent. Many periodicals gave voice to this concern in a backhanded way, such as when the the Edinburgh Review commented on the inability of merchants to cover the possible market because of closed borders:

Nevertheless, the interests of England and Japan are by no means opposed. Both desire, and must eventually profit by, increased freedom of trade. In the spacious East there is custom enough and to spare for both, if the customers can only be reached. (“Problems of the Far East,” 152)

The trade between England and Japan was further bolstered by an exhange of artists, teachers, and scientists:

In addition, besides oyatoi [Western scholars and advisors], some Western artists were invited to Japan by the Meiji government. Upon the decision to establish modern museums in Japan, the government sent officers to the West to research, and also invited the British designer, Christopher Dresser to Japan in 1876. During his stay, he was asked to visit factories and workshops to give some advice on European taste to promote future trade with England. During his 98-day stay, the energetic Dresser met 75 makers of ceramics, metalwork, bamboo and basket works, lacquer furniture, textiles, embroideries, enamels, cloisonné enamel, toys, and paper. (Yamamori)

In addition to bringing Western talents to Japan, trade was encouraged through the return of English merchants who realized profits by trading in Japanese goods and the idea of Japan as a mysterious and elemental culture, which meshed well with the Gothic revival in England.

In order to preserve . . . traditional art and also to enhance export trades, the Meiji government strongly encouraged the export of Japanese arts and crafts. It realised the importance of world exhibitions as the ideal showcase in which to promote Japanese products to the world, hence, made a great effort to explain the benefits of such participation to the people. This was done by starting regular domestic exhibitions and rewarding craftsmen for their skills, offering financial support to craftsmen, and preparing the desirable craft designs for exhibitions. In particular, the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibitions (1876) is known for the enormous investment made by the government: it even paid the travel expenses for all Japanese exhibitors who wished to attend with their objects. (Yamamori)

Also, George Landow points to the wares sold by Arthur Liberty as one especially powerful conduit for Japanese goods and ideas:

Born in 1843, the son of a Chesham draper, Arthur Liberty was a young man of thirty-three when, in 1875, he opened a small shop in Regent Street, London. Originally selling only ornaments and objets d’art from Japan and the East to cater for the current fashionable demand, he soon expanded to include fabrics, oriental carpets and china. William Morris, Alma Tadema, Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Whistler and Wilde were regular customers, which did much to consolidate Liberty’s reputation with the fashionable cliques of the time. The greatest triumph of the company’s early days was their dyed fabrics; silks in ‘Liberty colours’ were an influential element in the Aesthetic Movement, and the delicate pastel tints of blue, greenish yellow, gold and coral became world famous.

The statistics for the period leading up to the 1890s point to the growing importance of East-West trade, and the growing importance of the periodical press in both England and Japan toward publicizing and increasing such trade:

During the Meiji period, foreign trade was increasing rapidly: in 1868, total imports were 15,553,473 versus exports of 10,693,072; by 1912, they had grown respectively, to 526,981,842 (33 times) and 618,992,277 (57 times). The major export items were silk, tea, copper and ceramics and the main import item was cotton. . . . The foreign trade of Japan with Britain in 1909 amounted to approximately 24,000,000 sterling, or 29 per cent of British foreign trade. (Yamamori)

Indeed, in 1896, the Edinburgh Review noted in an article on “Political and Commercial Affairs in Asia” that “It may be observed, in the first place, that commerce seems to be rapidly superseding colonisation as the mainspring of national activities in Western Europe” (243).
The English demand for Japanese goods began after the opening of Japan in the 1850s, and during the 1860s many English collectors began buying Japanese pottery and household objects because of their simplicity and economy of design, artistic use of asymmetry, and association with the medieval culture of Japan. This phenomenon was originally reported in English periodicals, and, to some extent, the periodical press, although slow at first to champion the Japanese aesthetic, helped by the 1890s to fuel the huge English demand for Japanese art and goods.

Turning to the availability of Japanese decorative arts in Europe (excluding Holland), a British ship carrying a full load of Japanese crafts returned to London in 1854. These were exhibited at the Old Watercolour Society Gallery in Pall Mall East and became the first opportunity for the British to encounter Japanese crafts. Although this early event did not make any immediately noticeable impact on British art, it was featured by the London Illustrated News [sic] on 4 February 1854 with great acclaim. (Yamamori)

The lure of the exotic prompted many English artists and craftsmen to adopt Japanese methods or to incorporate Japanese themese into their productions:

Western pictorial artists had started to use the concept of Japanese art to free themselves from Western classical tradition. Japanese wood block prints, ukiyo-e, were newly introduced to the West in the nineteenth century, and had a sensational impact on Western art. Asymmetrical arrangement, blank backgrounds, flat and linear depiction disregarding mathematical perspective--none of these featured in the traditional canon of which had ruled in the West for centuries. (Yamamori)

For the first ten years or so after the reopening of Japan, the passion for Japanese art was confined to individual artists and collectors. In the 1870s, when more information and materials became available, the vogue took off in earnest and numerous Japanese style interiors were created. This trend was carried to extremes in the 1880s, particularly in England, and thousands of ordinary homes were filled with Japanese-style decorative objects such as fans, umbrellas, and porcelain. In terms of the art trade, the periodical press made much of the elegance and simplicty of Japanese wares and art, at least during the first few years after the introduction of Japanese art to England.
During the 1860s, English artists adopted wholesale many Japanese items for use as motifs, and the periodical press in England romanticized Japanese culture and “artefacts” as though they were long-lost remnants of medieval Japan--which, in a way, they were. For example, the Pre-Raphaelites adopted Japanese items in their works, but based on the idea popular in the press of Japan as a “backward” and feudal society, one whose objects lent mystery to the Pre-Raphaelites’ paintings. For example, Paul Spence-Longhurst points out that in Dante Rossetti’s The Blue Bower, the instrument depicted in the painting is a Japanese koto, which the figure “absent-mindedly plucks” (50). The principal figure of Rossetti’s lesser-known The Bride wears a kimono, but in such a fashion as to be almost unrecognizable as such. One gets the sense that these Japanese items are used out of context, to hint at exoticism without necessarily standing as metonyms for the whole of Japanese culture.

Toshio Watanabe singles out William Michael Rossetti as the

only . . . Pre-Raphaelite who showed any consistent and serious interest in Japanese art. . . . He published an article on Japanese woodcuts as early as 1863 in The Reader. . . . Though not very well informed, his comments are perceptive, and he went beyond regarding Japanese art as simply something to be used in a painting as a decorative device or as fashionable paraphernalia. (5)

Thus, we can see that although the influence of peridocials on the tastes of artists and the general English butying public during the 1860s is relatively small, there is already in place a nascent feedback loop: William Michael Rossetti’s articles on Japanese woodcuts were the result largely of having consulted periodical reports of the works of the likes of Hokusai and others.

The Gothic revival, as personified by the Pre-Raphaelites and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), produced a desire in England in the 1870s to purchase and to preserve both English and Japanese wares which had changed little since the “glorious dynasties” of yesteryear. Whether the products sought were actual antiques or reproductions was a question of economic demand. E. W. Godwin laments in an 1876 article for the Architect that “either the European market is ruining Japanese art, or the Japanese have taken our artistic measure and found it wanting; perhaps there is a little of both” (363).
By the 1880s, the mystique of Japan produced exhibitions and cultural exchanges fostered in large part my the periodical press, which reported on the growing enchantment with both the culture and the commodities of Japan. For example, Mary Ellen Kappler of the University of Toronto says of the Japanese exhibition of 1885, held at Humphrey’s Hall in Knightsbridge: “An advertisement appearing in the Times in January of that year referred to the exhibit as ‘a Japanese village erected and peopled by natives of Japan.’ About 100 Japanese people participated as demonstrators; 26 of them were women and children.” According to the Times:

On entering the hall the visitor finds himself in a broad street of shops and houses from which rows of smaller shops forming narrow lanes are laid out to the right. These are not merely painted fronts but well built apartments of multi-coloured bamboo with single or thatched roofs painted by native artists.

Japanese homes, shops and tea-houses were represented, as was a temple. The exhibition featured demonstrations of fencing, dancing and wrestling, as well as lacquer-work, and wood-carving, and textiles, fans, copperwork, ivory etc. were available for purchase. Admission was 2 and sixpence.
Thus, the demand for Japanese art and goods moved out of the bohemian circles and into popular taste during the 1880s. The 1890s saw the height of the English demand for Japanese culture, to the point of wholesale importation of both Japanese goods and Japanese artisans to England. Also during the 1890s, England saw a wave of imitation Japanese objects made in Britain by British manufacturers.
The 1890s saw the decadence not only of Western art, but of popular English taste. Punch lampooned the Aesthetic Movement’s fascination with Japan in a cartoon depicting an Aesthetic couple swooning over a blue-and-white vase: “Oh, Algernon, isn’t it exquisite?” “Yes, and we shall try to live up to it, darling.”
Yumiko Yamamori cites many English periodicals as having a strong impact on the popular mania for all things Japanese, among them she cites the Studio:

A British leading artistic magazine of the day, The Studio, featured miscellaneous aspects of Japanese art and culture continually throughout the 1890s and 1900s. Particularly, the edition of July 1899 dedicated eight pages to the Japanese-inspired house of Mortimer Menpes, an Australian painter, with ten photographs. (Yamamori)

By this time, the periodical press was feeding its own news cycle; the Academy in 1892 reported on the creation of the “Society for Encouraging the Study of Japanese Art,” founded in large part by other editors and writers for the journal. The Edinburgh Review saw in 1895 as one of the chief “Problems of the Far East” that

Japanese cotton goods are rapidly running those of British make off the Eastern market. They are cleverly designed and serviceable, and are produced at extraordinarily small cost. A Kagoshima male “hand” works ten and a half hours a day for fourpence halfpenny, a female for three halfpence. Taking its fine quality into account, there is no such cheap labour in the world. (152)

There was also a buildup of demand in Japan for English art and culture, and it, too was fueled by the periodical press. The outcome of the process by which this demand was created and sustained is similar to the trend seen in England, but the motivation behind many elements of the Japanese periodical press stemmed from radically different impulses.
After the 1850s, Japan embarked on a growing campaign of modernization, led by the new emperor and, more reluctantly, by the Tokugawa government. Japanese men, for example wore the traditional kimono with English bowler hats to signify their adoption of Western practices. A craze for English goods soon swept up the Japanese, and periodicals in the 1860s and 1870s reflected the mania. These examples, too, are the end results of a decades-long strategic campaign by Japanese merchants and government officials to play up the quality of English goods and the nobility of the British people.
Hashitomi, Hiroki. “The Pre-Raphaelites in Meiji Art Circles.” The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies n.s. 3.2 (Fall 1994): 29-39.

Takahashi Yuichi (1828-94), a Western-style painter in the early Meiji era, had been taught by Charles Wirgman, a reporter and illustrator for The Illustrated London News. (29)

“Progress in Japan.” Edinburgh Review 172.351 (Jul. 1890): 56-84.

Embassies were despatched to the European courts, and commissions were sent to study the systems of government, of administration, of education, and of religion in the Western world, as well as the dockyards, workshops, and arsenals of the principal manufacturing countries. (61)

Looking back from the vantage of 1895, the Edinburgh Review recalls in “Problems of the Far East” how the Japanese press operated in the 1860s:

Everything was strictly up to date. Telegraph-boys on bicycles traced past the mostly demolished city fortresses of the daimios; English-speaking policemen, in immaculate white uniforms, stood at every street-corner . . . newspaper-vendors emulously hawked their daily wares. Nay, if the visitor was a poet, a baronet, or a journalist, he had to undergo, on behalf of the native press, an interview with “a dapper little gentleman, in appearance about nineteen, dressed in faultless foreign fashion--tennis shoes, flannel trousers, white waistcoat, blue coat, flowing necktie, spectacles, and pith helmet--speaking English with the accuracy and impressiveness of a copy-book,” and asking questions “with the directness of a census-taker.” (132)

“Progress in Japan.” Edinburgh Review 172.351 (Jul. 1890): 56-84.

[Between 1876 and 1885 the number of newspapers delivered through the Japanese post increased from 4,077,095 to 15,258,6721 (77).]

“Problems of the Far East.” Edinburgh Review 182.373 (Jul. 1895): 132-155.

“Journalism in Japan,” Mr. Norman remarks [in The Peoples and Politics of the Far East], has come with a rush.” The seventeen daily papers published at Tokio have a combine circulation of some four millions, and the “fourth estate” is represented altogether by nearly 800 periodicals of various kinds and complexions. The information supplied by them is, often enough, founded rather on fancy than on fact; yet they serve their turn. (142)

Sato, Tomoko and Toshio Watanabe. “The Images of Japan in Britain--An Effect of Westernization.” Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. 14-54.

While the Cult of Japan was pervading British taste, Westernisation began to have its effect on Japanese art and exports. . . . As the Westernisation programme progressed, Japanese artefacts began to include other inferior goods made by poor adoption of Western techniques. (37)

“Progress in Japan.” Edinburgh Review 172.351 (Jul. 1890): 56-84.

The admiration which Japanese pictures excited when the country was first opened up to foreigners led to a rush on the market for all paintings bearing the signatures of well-known artists. It was not long before Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Germans became as enthusiastic over the works of Sesshiu, Kano Masanobu, and Hokusai as the Japanese themselves. (69)

“Progress in Japan.” Edinburgh Review 172.351 (Jul. 1890): 56-84.

When these chefs-d’œuvre became exhausted inferior works supplied their places in the market, and when, in turn, these became scarce the production of a new supply formed the trade of any artists who could wield a brush. (69)

“Progress in Japan.” Edinburgh Review 172.351 (Jul. 1890): 56-84.

The temptation of an eager market overcame, for the moment, the innate love of art which belongs to the Japanese as a race, and the descent from perfect to indifferent colouring was intensified by the attempt to conform in all cases to the rules of perspective taught in the schools. (69)

By the 1890s, however, the government strategy of promoting economic and artistic Westernization began to be undermined from within. Many Japanese lodged a backhanded protest against the Westernization of Japan by admiring and advocating the medievalizing tendencies of English art. The very Pre-Raphaelites and SPAB who celebrated and preserved the English medieval heritage were now used as potent symbols by Japanese critic who longed to return to their former ways of life and their former isolationist policies.
“Progress in Japan.” Edinburgh Review 172.351 (Jul. 1890): 56-84.

It was a remark of the late Sir Harry Parkes that, unless the Japanese established museums for the preservation of antiquities, there would soon be nothing left in the country that was nationally characteristic. (68)

“Problems of the Far East.” Edinburgh Review 182.373 (Jul. 1895): 132-155.

Japanese education is secular and compulsory, though not gratuitous. Its most marked result has been the development of a dangerous class of idle graduates, too learned to dig, too unsettled for trade, and hence always at hand for inflammatory purposes. . . . The time has, in their opinion, come for pulling down the scaffolding by the aid of which a still insecure edifice of civilisation was reared. “Japan for the Japanese” is their watchword, and they have, unfortunately, power on critical occasions to raise whirlwinds of popular passions. (144)

Cortazzi, Hugh. “The British in Japan in the Nineteenth Century.” Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. 55-66.

Opposition to modernisation was a major factor in the civil war of 1877, the so-called “Seinan War” or the “Satsuma rebellion.” (57)

“Problems of the Far East.” Edinburgh Review 182.373 (Jul. 1895): 132-155.

In the twinkling of an eye, so to speak, institutions of an ultra-medieval type were completely modernised. (138)

Yamamori, Yumiko. Japanese Export Furniture: with Particular Emphasis on the Meiji Era (1868-1912). “Chapter III: Social Context in the Meiji Era.” 1999. Available 6 September 2001.

The people’s desire to pursue the latest fad was often carried to extremes and their obsession with for all things Western reached a culmination in the 1880s, when the elaborate social dance hall, Rokumeikan, designed to entertain foreign officials and the Japanese upper-class was built in Tokyo. Such superficial Westernisation provoked a conservative reaction urging the need to return to native Japanese values and traditions. It can be said that Japanese modernisation had become more established after this period.

“Political and Commercial Affairs in Asia.” Edinburgh Review 183.375 (Jan. 1896): 237-266.

If the Japanese war has in some respects strengthened other European powers at our expense, it has, at any rate, opened our eyes to the risks and embarrassments in which England would have been entangled by a defensive alliance with China. It is now plain enough that the military strength of the Manchu dynasty had been so greatly overestimated that any public obligation to side with her in a serious quarrel must have burdened us with the responsibility of adjusting her disputes with Japan, which we could hardly have discharged without an awkward strain upon all our foreign relations. (250)

Tanita, Hiroyuki. “Kanbara Ariake and the Cult of Rossetti in Japan.” The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies n.s. 3.2 (Fall 1994): 20-28.

Anyone who studies the cult of Rossetti in the late Meiji era will be obliged to take into consideration the activity of the Bungakukai [Literary World] circle, which played an important part in the development of the cult. . . . Ueda Bin was the first and most ardent admirer of Rossetti in Japan. He contributed several articles on Rossetti’s poety to Teikoku-Bungakuand Kôko-Bungaku, as well as to the Bungakukai from 1895 to 1898, and he keenly advocated the subtel and mystical emotions of Rossetti’s love poems. (20-21)

Hashitomi, Hiroki. “The Pre-Raphaelites in Meiji Art Circles.” The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies n.s. 3.2 (Fall 1994): 29-39.

Ueda Bin introduced The Star of Bethlehem, a tapestry produced by William Morris, though originally designed by Burne-Jones, in the December 1896 issue of Bungakukai [Literary World]. In the following issue of Bungakukai he introduced paintings by Rossetti as well as poems by Rossetti and Dante. Separately, Mori Ôgai (1862-1922), a doctor, novelist, and connoisseur of the fine arts, when discussing aesthetics in a short article entitled “Tsukikusa no Jo [A Preface to Tsukikusa]” (November 1896), wrote about the open-air painting of the Pre-Raphaelites. (30)

Bin, Ueda. “Rossetti No Shika [Rossetti’s Poems].” Trans. Yuriko Kameyoma. Bungakukai 1.49 (Jan. 1897): 26–31.

Until Rossetti created a number of his excellent works, into which he must have plunged the lonely thoughts of a half of his life, there must have been some anguish and some joy in his heart. The work that maintains his never-decayed honor in British literary history is, not to mention, the collection of sonnets called “Seimei no ie” or “The House of Life.”

[Mori, Ogai]. “Ogai Bunwa [Ogai’s Literary Talk].” Shigarami Zôshi [The Literary Journal] 20 (May 1891): 28–45.

Contemporary English literature is lifeless. I tried to find some critics like Taine, Montague, and Brunetiere in it, but I cannot even find their shadows. Edmond Clancis Stedman and Henry James have become a little famous, but they are both from North America, so they are not enough to judge the trend in England.

The English are still addicted to their old works, and they seem to forget to look at the present. They respect old writers and many organize associations which study these old writers. [29] You see Shakespeare associations, Shelley associations, and Browning associations everywhere. Stedman once [said of] them, “The headquarters of the Browning association is in England, and it is surrounded by many branches. It is like a small spider spinning the thin threads of its net everywhere.”

People’s hearts are not moved by theaters either. The plays by Tennyson and Browning; songs like “Mary Stuart” and “Marino Faliero” by Swinburne; “Callirhoë,” “Fair Rosamund,” [and] “Brutus Ultor” by [Michael] Field; “Nero” by [Robert Seymour] Bridges; and “The Sentence” by [Augusta] Webster: they all won good reputations; however, they tended to be book-plays. It is very difficult to see their beauty on the stage. Mediocre people write dramatic criticism. They only like copies of French folk plays. Theaters indulge in luxurious ornamentations and have lost their original purpose, simplicity.

The strangest thing is that people do not go to the theater even if there is a Shakespeare play in London. French people seemed to like Shakespeare for a while after they saw “The Merchant of Venice” at the Odeon, even though they have kept him out since Voltaire. Lyric poetry is also at a low ebb. Keats, Wordsworth, and Shelley groups have all split their strength. Only a few people follow the wake of Tennyson’s poetry, which describes a bleak country scene.
Takashina, Shuji. “East Meets West: Western-Style Painting in Modern Japanese Art.” Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. 67-78.

Fujishuma Takeji . . . was responsible for the covers for the poetry journal Morning Star. (73)

Takashina, Shuji. “East Meets West: Western-Style Painting in Modern Japanese Art.” Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. 67-78.

Fujishima Takeji and Aoki Shigeru are regarded widely as . . . outstanding representatives of Western-style painting in Japan during the last third of the Meiji period. From the mid-1890s onwards they came under the strong influence of European oil painting and gave rise to a lively boom in the Japanese art scene of the time. . . . When asked by a journalist which painters he was particularly fond of, [Fujishima] gave the names of Burne-Jones, Watts, [and] Rossetti. As can be inferred from these names, he had already become dissatisfied with the ideal of simply reproducing the real world and, based on a deep affection for the world of history and mythology, was attempting to translate into painting the worlds of music and poetry as well. (72-73)

Tozawa, Koya. “Annotated Review of English Poetry.” [part 5]. Trans. Sachiyo Connor. Myojo 6 (Sep. 1900): 20-22.

Those who lived in the Middle Ages had solid faith in religion. They believed in God; they believed in heaven; they were not like later people, who have doubt. Because all their ideas were influenced by their religion, they naturally had a sensibility that does not exist these days. Rossetti revived their ideas in his poems. He took material for most of his poems from the Middle Ages, and these poems are his greatest works. The poem that I have annotated in this article is like that. Nevertheless, he did not take his material directly from history; he only set it in the Middle Ages. He did not specify the country or the era.

Some time during the Middle Ages, there were a man and a woman who lived in some unspecified place. They loved each other with a very pure love. The woman died young and went to heaven. Even though she became God’s maid at the palace [of heaven], the woman could not stop thinking of her man and waited for him to come to heaven. The man, who survived on earth, kept thinking of her, and expressed sorrowfully how much he yearned to go to heaven.

This is the outline of the poem. We should read his great poem, created with great imagination and with a delicate writing brush. It gives a very good picture of what the people of those days imagined heaven to be like, woman’s conduct there, and other such things. We also should appreciate Rossetti’s peculiar purity of Religious Love. However, some parts seem ridiculous to Asian readers--for example, the scene of heaven. Even so, rather than that being the author’s fault, it is the readers’ fault. Because, after all, [the idea of] heaven is a result of religious faith; those who do not have such faith cannot possibly believe in it. But readers who think and imagine what religious love means will be able to appreciate the scene of heaven in their minds all the time. I ask such resolution of readers in advance of reading this poem.

Umaji, Kaneko. “The Poetical Imagination of Rossetti, an Authority on Romanticism.” Trans. Connor Sachiyo. Waseda Bungaku [Tokyo Magazine] 54 (Meiji 26 [Dec. 1893]): 105–108.

Dante sang of high and beautiful love, which is the spiritual notion in the “Vita Nuova.” He strove to inspire people with spiritual power in the Middle Ages. Rossetti followed Dante and focused on singing of and interpreting the spiritual power of love. His voice was the most sensitive and also the closest to beauty of all. We have been led to the eternal phantom fairyland by him.

We feel like we have been playing in and walking around a profound and remote spiritual world. As it says in the Nineteenth Century, he extended the sphere of the British spiritual world. . . . This is a summary of the article by W. Basil Worsfold in Nineteenth Century. (106-107)
Thus, it is tempting to conclude that while the question has not been solved with regard to the origin of the Japonisme and Aesthetic crazes, we can see that the political and economic spheres in both England and Japan picked up on artistic exchange as a means of strengthening ties between England and Japan without causing international political upheaval. Indeed, the advancement of xenophilic collecting and adoption of foreign modes helped to acculturate and normalize the relations between the two nations to such an extent that in both the news reporting and the satirical journals of the day, we observe the same overall program of at least grudging respect for the “other” enacted.
Bin, Ueda. “Rossetti No Shika [Rossetti’s Poems].” Trans. Yuriko Kameyoma. Bungakukai 1.49 (Jan. 1897): 26–31.

Cortazzi, Hugh. “The British in Japan in the Nineteenth Century.” Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. 55-66.

Droppers, Garrett. “Japan’s Entry into the World’s Politics.” International Monthly 1 (Jan. 1900): 162-187.

Godwin, E. W. “A Japanese Warehouse.” Architect 23 Dec. 1876: 363.

Hashitomi, Hiroki. “The Pre-Raphaelites in Meiji Art Circles.” The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies n.s. 3.2 (Fall 1994): 29-39.

Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. Eds. Tomoko Sato and Toshio Watanabe. London: Lund Humphries, 1991.

[Mori, Ogai]. “Ogai Bunwa [Ogai’s Literary Talk].” Shigarami Zôshi [The Literary Journal] 20 (May 1891): 28–45.

“Political and Commercial Affairs in Asia.” Edinburgh Review 183.375 (Jan. 1896): 237-266.

“Problems of the Far East.” Edinburgh Review 182.373 (Jul. 1895): 132-155.

“Progress in Japan.” Edinburgh Review 172.351 (Jul. 1890): 56-84.

“Russia on the Pacific.” Edinburgh Review 178.265 (Jul. 1893): 122-138.

Sato, Tomoko and Toshio Watanabe. “The Images of Japan in Britain--An Effect of Westernization.” Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. 14-54.

“Society for Encouraging the Study of Japanese Art.” Academy 41(Jun. 1892): 405-407.

Spencer-Longhurst, Paul. The Blue Bower: Rossetti in the 1860s. London: Scala, 2000.

Takashina, Shuji. “East Meets West: Western-Style Painting in Modern Japanese Art.” Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930. 67-78.

Tanita, Hiroyuki. “Kanbara Ariake and the Cult of Rossetti in Japan.” The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies n.s. 3.2 (Fall 1994): 20-28.

Tozawa, Koya. “Annotated Review of English Poetry.” [part 5]. Trans. Sachiyo Connor. Myojo 6 (Sep. 1900): 20-22.

Umaji, Kaneko. “The Poetical Imagination of Rossetti, an Authority on Romanticism.” Trans. Connor Sachiyo. Waseda Bungaku [Tokyo Magazine] 54 (Meiji 26 [Dec. 1893]): 105–108.

Watanabe, Toshio. “Pre-Raphaelite Japonisme ? Enthusiasm for and Ambivalence Towards a New Culture.” The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies n.s. 3.2 (Fall 1994): 2-5

Worsfold, W. Basil. “The Poetry of D. G. Rossetti.” Nineteenth Century 34 (Aug. 1893): 284-290.

Yamamori, Yumiko. Japanese Export Furniture: with Particular Emphasis on the Meiji Era (1868-1912). “Chapter III: Social Context in the Meiji Era.” 1999. Available 6 September 2001.

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