2021 年 51 巻 p. 79-96
This paper considers cultural translations and adaptations in Meiji-era Japan. It places the focus on San’yūtei Enchō’s Ezonishiki Kokyō no Iezuto (Foreign Brocade as a Souvenir of Ezo-region, 1886–87) based on Wilkie Collins’ The New Magdalen (1872–73). Ezonishiki is a story of Rakugo, a type of traditional one-person oral storytelling, adapted by Enchō, who was the principal Rakugo performer and author of his day. He is still well known as the father of the modern Japanese language due to the impact of his spoken style on the Vernacular Movement.
Reflecting the general socio-cultural trend towards Westernization, adaptations of Western fiction found their way into the Japanese publishing sphere. They modified the foreign to fit domestic sensibilities, often changing Western characters and settings into Japanese. Enchō adapted various Western literary works to suit his audience’s narrative appetites. He transformed Collins’ original story about Victorian social discrimination against a fallen woman into a story about those who were against the Hinin class, which consisted of actors, beggars, and others regarded by feudal Japan as the most socially inferior. This paper also enquires into the following questions: how English-illiterate Enchō learned the original story, what kind of role Enchō took in popularizing Western literature, and what he thought about the Westernization policy promoted by the Meiji government.