International Circulation of Newspaper Novels: British Empire, Japan, and the Yubin Hochi Shimbun


Japanese newspaper novels emerged as a genre in the latter half of the 19th century. In 1886, the Yubin Hochi Shimbun (YHS), a hitherto primarily political newspaper, declared that it would print novels in order to internationalize its readers. The editor Morita Shiken had visited Europe and America to learn how to run and edit newspapers and translated popular Western novels, including works by Jules Verne and Wilkie Collins, for the YHS readership. The YHS ran many novels whose origins were—and still are—unknown. Through extensive archival research I found that they were translated from English newspaper novels, mostly unsigned miscellaneous pieces and curious stories. Despite their obscure or anonymous authorship, they had widely been reprinted in newspapers in England, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. I would argue that the YHS took part in the international circulation of newspaper novels in the British Empire and beyond, thereby contributing to fashioning newspaper novels as an international genre. This paper examines the two characteristics that distinguish Shiken’s translation for the YHS readers: first, shu-mitsu style, verbatim translation traditionally used in translating Chinese works, which he applied to English, and second, his deliberate selection of first-person novels. Shiken sometimes turned some third-person novels into first-person works through his translations. As he later explained, Japanese literature did not have the genre of first-person novels, so “we needed it.” In the end, through translation, Shiken also invented a new genre in modern Japanese literature.

Author Information
Mika Baba, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2021
Stream: Literary Studies / All genres/ Theory

This paper is part of the ACCS2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Baba M. (2021) International Circulation of Newspaper Novels: British Empire, Japan, and the Yubin Hochi Shimbun ISSN: 2187-4751 The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2021: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon