Friday, June 5, 2015

1859 book by Kinahan Cornwallis "freely pillaged from Typee" and Tomes's The Americans in Japan

From the article headed LITERARY THEFTS in the Boston Evening Transcript, Wednesday, March 16, 1859:
The Century reports that a book has appeared in London entitled “Two Journeys to Japan, 1856-7, by Kinahan Cornwallis,” which is so freely pillaged from Herman Melville’s “Typee” and Dr. Tomes’s abridgement of Perry’s Japan Expedition, that doubts may very fairly be entertained of the writer’s having travelled to the scenes he pretends to describe, or, in fact, of there being any such author at all. The Spectator exposes the passages from Melville, in parallel columns, and is inclined to treat the writer with incredulity; the Athenaeum, on the contrary, is very respectful. It looks like a sheer publisher’s job, got up “to order.”  --Found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank 
Truth be told, it's hard to find something that is not plagiarized in Two Journeys to Japan. One source as revealed in the Boston item (paraphrasing an earlier review) is The Americans in Japan. Cornwallis's Two Journeys to Japan also features extensive copying from Typee which occurs in the concluding section of Volume 2, "The After Journey" (pp. 208-300). The Hathi Trust Digital Library has several sets of Two Journeys to Japan, 1856-7. This copy of Volume 2 is digitized from a volume in the library of the University of Michigan:



What Cornwallis made of Typee is the subject of my paper for the Melville conference in Tokyo, 25-29 June 2015. Titled "Copying Melville: Literary Theft and Romantic Anti-imperialism in Kinahan Cornwallis' Two Journeys to Japan, 1856-7," my paper relies on the scholarship of Joseph Koshimi Yamagiwa in
Cornwallis' Account of Japan: A Forgery and its Exposure, Monumenta Nipponica 4.1 (January 1941): 124-132.
Professor Yamagiwa is remembered at the University of Michigan with great affection and respect, as indicated in the appreciative memorial at the Faculty History Project.

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