Register :: Log in :: Profile   


James Murdoch's History Of Japan/47 Ronin

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Samurai Archives Citadel Forum Index // The Edo Period
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Tatsunoshi
Miko no Kami
Miko no Kami
Forum Kanrei
Forum Kanrei
Multi-Year Benefactor
Multi-Year Benefactor



Joined: 07 May 2006
Posts: 4923
Location: 京都日本 Cincinnati, OH

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:41 am    Post subject: James Murdoch's History Of Japan/47 Ronin Reply with quote
For a long time I've wanted Murdoch's 3 volume "History of Japan" (which was for years the standard reference in the field), but sets in the used market were always several hundred dollars. I finally found a set in great condition from a private collection for under a hundred bucks-all the fold out maps intact, no musty odors, no ex-library markings. The maps weren't in color as these were fourth printings, but given the cost that was fine.

I found it interesting that the second volume (1542-1651) was printed in 1903, seven years before the first volume (origins-1542). And the last volume (1652-1868) was printed five years after Murdoch's death (1921). The last volume contained a lot of footnotes from the two scholars that finished the job of putting it together, in many cases correcting Murdoch's information. It seems Murdoch had planned a fourth volume covering the Meiji years to 1912 but it was never completed.

It's fascinating reading-unlike modern scholars, Murdoch is more of a storyteller and doesn't seem to be too worried about coming across as unbiased in many matters.

The third volume is proving to be the most intriguing. Murdoch's account of the 47 Ronin, still accepted by way too many people as the standard, appears to have used as its sources the fictional account in Mitford's "Tales of Old Japan" and a book based on the puppet play-"The Chushingura or the Loyal League: A Japanese Romance" by Dickens (not THE Dickens). Since the book was prepared after his death, the professors that finished up (Joseph H Longford and L M C Hall) included a lot of footnotes pointing out errors, discrepancies, and events that never happened throughout the chapter-showing that far from being revisionist history, the Ronin story was known to be BS even back in the day. They touch on the legend of the 'Satsuma Man', fictional episodes of Kira's greed, and point out that virtually every record supposedly used by the Ronin in conjunction with the raid is a fake written years after the fact. They even were right that "Yoshinaka" likely wasn't Kira's name (although they have it as Yoshihide rather than the Yoshihisa that was finally proven a few years ago). It's jaw-dropping that Murdoch's account was used for so long but everyone ignored the footnotes.

It's really an amazing work, particularly for its time. The volume of information alone represented a lifetime of work. The last volume does list the sources Murdoch used, and even with the crummy ones he used for the Ronin, most of them were very solid first person accounts from Westerners we still use (and a few clunkers like Nitobe). There were a few Japanese language books listed and a few Japanese authors, but no titles listed for them.

Amusingly, the last volume also lifts the appendices from Papinot's Historical & Cultural Atlas Of Japan-the reproductions are EXACT, just like a photocopy. Unlike a certain Dr. T, though, here they at least mention Papinot in the sources.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
wicked iemon
The Lemon King
The Lemon King
Iga no Kami
Iga no Kami
Veteran Member



Joined: 24 Jan 2007
Posts: 1091
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: 47 Ronin Reply with quote
Years ago i found this in the local library and via a now defunct site i think i made the mistake of informing one of our former members of Murdoch's account of the Ronin .I was amazed at how fast our former member picked up a copy and also ignored the footnotes and set about using the late Mr Murdoch's version as the basis for many heated debates .

To be fair Murdoch's account actually became the standard English Language version that was used in various text's inc our own Dr T (glad he has recanted though ) who used the Murdoch account for many years ,Its actually staggering the number of authors who bypassed the footnotes .

In the last century some of the biggest criminals as far as pushing the myth were these Martial Artists who would take it upon themselves to produce various books on Samurai History and would use for their limited research or plagiarism being more apt Murdoch and Dr T .Not content with propagating the myth of the Ronin other characters like Musashi ,Tomoe Gozen got a huge make over as well as the usual Bushido crap .

In about a years time when the Keanu film finally comes out im sure the debate will rise again and im just waiting for that History Channel special hosted by Mark Dacascos .

Years ago i attended a reading by that author with the Ryoma fixation who took it upon himself to give the audience of maybe 10 a crash course in the Edo period .Among the huge whoppers he unleashed were as follows

(1) The Tokugawa Army at Sekigahara (yes we say Eastern but he said Tokugawa ) numbered 200.000 while heroic Mitsunari had a mere 80,000 .

(2) Ieyasu enjoyed watching cutting tests on live prisoners .

(3)Toyotomi were the good guys (yes it was that simple )

(4)His take on the 47 Ronin who were following the code of Bushido (despite the fact Hagakure had not even been composed at this time )and that they were protesting the Shogunate and thus may have lit the spark that would ignite some 150 plus years later .

Well may as well get ready for next March the sewage will spew forth once more .
_________________
"One mans washing machine is another mans music "
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Tornadoes28
Oki no Kami
Oki no Kami
Veteran Member
2009 Benefactor
2009 Benefactor



Joined: 31 Dec 2008
Posts: 1420
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Mark Decascos, oh lord I can't wait till he does his "documentary" on the 47 Ronin. He will no doubt get imense praise on his Facebook page on how well he described the heroic deeds of the honorable 47 Ronin.
_________________
http://twitter.com/28loki

Google+
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Samurai Archives Citadel Forum Index // The Edo Period All times are GMT - 10 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Help the Samurai Archives




alexisRed v1.2 // Theme Created By: Andrew Charron // Samuraized By: Aaron Rister

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group