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Henry Black; on stage in Meiji Japan.


Henry Black; on stage in Meiji Japan.

McArthur, Ian.

Monash University Publishing


274 pages



Henry James Black (1858-1923) started life as an Australian. He ended life as Japanese after becoming a naturalized citizen. He was most famous as a storyteller, but of other peoples stories, and he is largely responsible for the modernization of Japanese theater, particularly of kabuki. In his prime he was intensely popular in Japan, an innovator, and a major force in changing Japanese culture. McArthur, an Australian journalist who turned his doctoral dissertation on Black into this book, uses letters and other primary source material to reconstruct this amazing life. Black came to Japan at about seven years old, the son of a businessman who sought financial success in Meiji Japan. The Meiji era was that of Madame Butterfly, a foreign intervention and intrusion was rampant in Japan; Henry started his absorption of the culture early. He began to adopt the stories of Dickens and others to the Japanese market, then became involved in the kabuki theater and adopted a Japanese stage name. His projects became legendary, and he was a leader of a troupe of actors, producers, and writers, all bent on making Japan at least competitive in the Euro-Asian theater world where he sat, stolid and supreme. Distributed in the US by ISBS.

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Publication:Reference & Research Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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