BD. Edmund Blunden

179. ‘Homage to Edmund Blunden’. Today’s Japan 5 (March-April 1960).

Includes along with the following a brief autobiographical essay by Blunden, a selection of Blunden’s poems, including a reprint of The Author’s Last Words to His Students (18d), and a Blunden bibliography compiled by Saitô Takeshi (Ap).

a. Saitô, Takeshi. ‘Edmund Blunden, Poet’. In his tracing of Blunden’s career, Saitô ‘cannot refrain from adding a few words about this poet’s love of Japan’, and notes details related to the subject, that Blunden had been interested in Japan even as a child, that in November 1923 ‘he met a young Japanese lover of English poetry [Saitô himself], and was requested to join the teaching staff of Tokyo Imperial University’, and that during Blunden’s tenure as cultural attachè of the post-war United Kingdom Liaison Mission he ‘gave about 600 lectures in Tokyo and other larger cities . . . performing prodigious work with almost superhuman energy far in excess of what his duty laid upon him’.

b. Miner, Earl. ‘Honor for Edmund Blunden’. Praise for Blunden’s ‘goodness’, with insightful notes about the admiration the Japanese have held for him: ‘Having at least been threatened by imminent sainthood in Japan  . . . Blunden is in a class of foreign visitors . . . not noticeably large’, consisting of Hearn (D9) and ‘a few . . . who are inevitably compared with Hearn’. But Blunden’s ‘role  . . . has been less transcendent’ than Hearn’s; ‘he has not reshaped the Japanese image of themselves and he has not really changed the Western conception of Japan’, but he has gone to Japan both before and after the war ‘and been himself’, for which ‘he has been much appreciated’. Notes that Blunden’s hundreds of lectures during his stay as cultural attachè were written separately for each occasion, and that he has left behind in Japan the manuscripts of more than five hundred.

c. Bernardo. ‘Edmund Blunden and Japan’. The brief article notes that in addition to recognising Blunden’s talents as a poet, the Japanese ‘regard him . . . as a sincere friend, proven by his understanding of the people and his love for them’; he has ‘[given] his beloved Japan courage and a real hope in a way that [has been] beautiful and inspiring’. ‘Bernardo’ is identified in a note as ‘the pseudonym of an old friend of Professor Blunden, now residing in Tokyo’.

d. Sone, Tamotsu. ‘Edmund Blunden, Teacher’. A loving remembrance of Blunden by a student who was to became one of Japan’s leading Browning scholars. Includes well-remembered details of Blunden’s first weeks at Tokyo Imperial University in 1924, the subject of his first lecture, the state of the classrooms in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake, his clothes, his first residence in the city (see 1a), his room at the Kikufuji Hotel (see 166j), trips with his students, inscriptions and words of encouragement he wrote in their books. The tone is reverential. Blunden ‘came . . . and witnessed our ruins’, offered his services, and has done ‘more for the sake of our country in the field of culture and education than any other individual’. The ‘young English teacher of the First High School’ who lived at the Kikufuji at the same time as Blunden would have been William Plomer; Sone notes that Ralph Hodgson (Ap) was among those present at Kobe in 1927 when Blunden boarded the ship to return to England. Reprinted in 185.

e. Sakai, Yoshitaka. ‘Edmund Blunden, Teacher’. Like Sone, Sakai was a student at Blunden’s lectures at Tokyo Imperial University in his first weeks in the city, would go on to become a major figure in English literary studies in Japan, and remembers with warm affection Blunden’s kindness and contributions to the country. He recalls here that ‘without the slightest ceremony’ students would gather in Blunden’s room at the Kikufuji to ‘talk for hours . . . about English poetry and literature’, and that prior to their graduation Blunden presented ‘about fifty’ students, ‘according to [each] individual taste . . . a first or rare edition’, a 1791 printing of Thomas Warton to Sakai, a first edition of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury to Sone. Sakai notes rightly that perhaps the greatest indication of Blunden’s influence in Japan is that more than half of his students went on to become university professors, others ‘prominent writers’, and ‘almost all’ played prominent roles in Japan’s ‘various cultural fields’.





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