BD. Edmund Blunden


191. Okada, Sumie. Edmund Blunden and Japan: The History of a Relationship. London: Macmillan, 1988.

Nothing like what the title suggests. Based on more than 1,400 letters written from Blunden to Hayashi Aki, a Japanese teacher he met in Tokyo in 1925, and with whom he fell in love for a time. Hayashi accompanied Blunden to England as a secretary in 1927, and remained there working for him until her death in London in 1962. Okada is more interested in arousing sympathy for Hayashi than in examining either Blunden’s life or his work. Though one chapter attempts to place his poems ‘in a Japanese context’ and another to trace the ‘influence’ of his relation with Hayashi ‘on his outlook and poetry’, readers expecting a close examination of his relation with Japan or its effects in his writing will be disappointed. Includes more than a hundred letters from Blunden to Hayashi, annotated and published here for the first time, and a section of interviews with and letters from Blunden’s acquaintances who also knew Hayashi, including Saitô Takeshi (Ap). Incorporates ‘Edmund Blunden and his “Dearest Autumn”’, TLS, 30 October 1981, pp. 1271-72. See also 170g.

a. Reviews. Carmen Blacker (‘The Secret Secretary’, TLS, 30 December 1988, p. 1441) accepts Okada’s tacit thesis that Blunden treated Hayashi ‘abominably’, agrees that in the twenties Hayashi ‘opened [Blunden’s] eyes to the beauty and magic of Japan, to which he had previously been blind’, and finds the work valuable for its revelations about this ‘side of Blunden’s character’. Francis King (‘Affairs of the Hard-Hearted’, Financial Times, 3 December 1988, p. XVII) suggests that criticising Blunden for the ‘heedless egotism with which he exploited a no longer reciprocated love’ is ‘easy enough’, but notes as well that ‘where there is a willingness to exploit, there is always also a willingness to be exploited’. Two other brief notices are Masatsugu Ôtake, †‘Edmund Blunden to Nippon’ (Edmund Blunden and Japan), Gakutô 85/12 (1988): 22-25, and Japan Society Review 111 (1988): 22-23, the latter of which suggests, incorrectly, that the work is ‘a sympathetic portrait of Blunden’.





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