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Purloined LettersCultural Borrowing and Japanese Crime Literature, 1868-1937$
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Mark Silver

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831882

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831882.001.0001

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Cultural Borrowing Reconsidered

(p.174) Coda
Purloined Letters

Mark Silver

University of Hawai'i Press

This concluding chapter reviews the Japanese authors' responses to the problem of writing in a borrowed genre, with particular emphasis on Kuroiwa Ruikō's translations, Okamoto Kidō's detective stories, and Edogawa Ranpo's cultural hybridity. These writers had one thing in common: their perception of a wide gap in cultural achievement between Japan and the West. The chapter argues that the conventional notions of imitation and cultural imperialism are incomplete at best and cannot be applied equally to all the instances of cultural borrowing explored in this book. It suggests that Japanese writers' views of their place in the genre of detective fiction were shaped by Japan's frustrated ambition to gain equal footing with Western powers by replicating their legal system and their pattern of imperial conquest; this frustration is evident in the writings of Ranpo and his generation.

Keywords:   detective fiction, Kuroiwa Ruikō, translation, Okamoto Kidō, Edogawa Ranpo, Japan, West, imitation, cultural imperialism, cultural borrowing

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