2007 年 2008 巻 40 号 p. 1-22
Henry Dyer, who worked as a teacher in Japan under the employment of the Ministry of Public Works in the Meiji era, was a prolific writer. To the extent of my knowledge he published 42 books and booklets, and 70 articles and editorials in magazines and newspapers. The subjects he dealt with can be categorized into the following : educational reform, social reform, research on Japan, engineering education, and academic research on engineering. Dai Nippon (1904) is seen as his most prominent example of research on Japan.
Dai Nippon is a massive work, consisting of 20 chapters and over 450 pages, and covers a truly broad range of topics. It attempts to analyze the history, current stage, and factors behind the success of the modernization of Japan, and puts special emphasis on the role played by educational policies and the educational system as factors behind Japan's successful modernization. Dyer makes particular note of the fact that the government decided on policies and distributed financial resources with emphasis on scientific and technological education. It is worthy of note that, in this regard, he makes comparisons with his motherland Great Britain, where industrialization progressed along a more natural course, and takes notice of Japan's national education system, asserting that Japan's experience could 'afford lessons to Britain.'
When it was first published, Dai Nippon was welcomed with great interest. One thousand copies of initial print were published on October 4th, 1904, but since they were soon sold out, an additional 250 copies were put out in 1905, the following year. Ninety-eight copies were sold that year, but sales subsequently declined. This means that a total of 1250 copies were printed (1258 copies, to be precise), 1235 of which were sold by 1917.
Second, there were a number of reviews and introductory reviews of the book which appeared in British, American and Japanese newspapers and magazines, which to my humble knowledge number about 20. These included major papers, such as Manchester Guardian and Daily Telegraph, and specialized or general-interest magazines like Nature and The Athenaeum. In Japan, a long review appeared in The Japan Weekly Mail, an announcement of the book's publishing was run in the Yomiuri Shinbun, and an introductory review was featured in the Journal of Institution of Engineers.
Third, the 1905 edition of The Cumulative Book Review Digest, released soon after Dai Nippon, was quick to run five reviews. The first review to appear in Britain was in the pages of the December 1st, 1904 edition of Nature, soon after Dai Nippon was put out in Britain. It is worth noting that the announcement of its publication appeared before that in Japan in the November 13th, 1904 edition of the Yomiuri Shinbun.
These reviews and introductory reviews of Dai Nippon are characterized as follows. (1) One review says that Dai Nippon is 'a treatise of so comprehen sive and illuminating a character' as to be 'an authoritative account of the evolution and present state of development of Japan.' (2) More than a few praise the descriptions in the book for being detailed, accurate, and backed up by source materials. (3) One reviewer remarks on 'the merits of Principal Henry Dyer's new book on Japan, ' saying it is 'Philosophic in conception, scientific in method, minute and reliable in its information, [Dai Nippon] combines many excellence seldom united.'
(4) As interest in Japan rose in the wake of the First Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War, and as more academic books on Japan were published in English, Dai Nippon was selected among the 'Notable Books of the Day, Useful Books on Japan.'