童絵解万国噺: a wonderfully bizarre 19th century Japanese fanfic history of America

童絵解万国噺: a wonderfully bizarre 19th century Japanese fanfic history of America

http://bit.ly/2ttPbeW

Japanese historian Nick Kapur unearthed "Osanaetoki Bankokubanashi" (童絵解万国噺), a wonderfully bizarre illustrated Japanese history of the USA from 1861, filled with fanciful depictions of allegedly great moments in US history, like "George Washington defending his wife ‘Carol’ from a British official named ‘Asura’ (same characters as the Buddhist deity)."

They just get weirder and better from there: "Washington’s ‘second-in-command’ John Adams battling an enormous snake"; "George Washington straight-up punching a tiger"; a snake eating John Adams’s mother and seeking help to avenge himself upon the snake from "a magical mountain fairy"; and so on.

If you like this kind of stuff, you should check out Franz Kafka’s first novel, Amerika, which was published posthumously and against Kafka’s wishes. Kafka knew nothing about the USA, so he just kinda made stuff up (think of "English as She is Spoke"), like millionaires being carried through the streets of New York on sedan chairs (I learned about this from EL Doctorow’s — no relation — essay collection The Creationists).

This 1861 book was by author Kanagaki Robun (仮名垣魯文) and artist Utagawa Yoshitora (歌川芳虎).

The title is "Osanaetoki Bankokubanashi" (童絵解万国噺) and it was based on 2 other second-hand sources, "Kaikoku Zushi" (海国図志) and "Amerika Ittōshi" (亜墨利加一統志).

A thread of images from a Japanese illustrated history of America from 1861. [Nick Kapur]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

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February 18, 2019 at 05:21PM

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