I was in Rome in February (2018) as a guest speaker at “Realms of Words”, a symposium hosted by the Japanese Department at Istituto italiano di Studi Orientali at Sapienza University.
The symposium focused on how ideas are transmitted across time and distance via different media. My paper, “Authorship and Adaptation in the Narrated Tales of Henry Black”, showed how Black’s tales went through various iterations from their original European sources to his own adaptations narrated on stage, and then into print as stenographic books (sokkibon) or serialised newspaper novels. I also showed how one of Black’s favourite English authors, Mary Braddon, was an inspiration for newspaper editor and translator, Kuroiwa Ruikō. Kuroiwa translated Braddon’s tale, Diavola (1885), as Sute kobune [abandoned small boat], for his newspaper, Yorozu Chōhō (1894-1895). This version was then adapted, using the same title, for the kabuki theatre, by Kawatake Shinshichi III in 1898. It was rewritten and given a more modern touch for the Hongō Theatre in 1906.
It was interesting to meet up with Italian and international scholars whose research interests overlap with mine. Also interesting to experience Rome under an unexpected blanket of Spring snow. Many thanks to Prof. Matilde Mastrangelo and institute staff for making me welcome in Rome.
The symposium was attended by students and staff from the institute and other Japanese Departments in Italy, including Naples, Milan, Florence and Venice. Guest speakers also came from USA, Canada and Japan. Participation by myself and other invitees was facilitated by the Japan Foundation.