This study identifies the original novel from which Kien, a Japanese play written about a century ago, was adapted. It also sheds light on how the play was modified and examines the essence of the story by comparing both the American original and the Japanese adaptation.
Kien (A Strange Fate) was published in 1915 by Oguri Fuyo. Although the play's preface indicates that Kien is an adaptation from a work by Charlotte Brame, it does not make a reference to its original title.
Extensive research of Brame's works at the University of Minnesota libraries has revealed that her book titled Two Kisses closely resembles the storyline in Kien, suggesting that it was the one that inspired Oguri Fuyo to write his play.
Brame's novels were quite popular in the end of the 19th century not only in the West but also in Japan. That prompted several Japanese authors to adapt her works by simply changing the characters of the original heroines to more modest ones in order to conform to Japanese tastes.
Fuyo, on the other hand, did the opposite. In his play he paints a more dynamic, independent and strong-willed heroine than Brame does in her original work. This change introduces a new type of heroine to the Japanese public and makes Kien more attractive and easier to follow.
Kien didn't leave a permanent mark on Japanese literature, but the influence it had on later works of Japanese authors should be explored.