Names and perspectives in Sute-Obune

a Meiji-Era adaptive translation of the Mary Braddon mystery novel, Diavola

Ian McArthur, Mio Bryce

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For just a few decades from the 1880s, a large number of European mystery novels were serialised in Japanese newspapers, in the form of adaptive translations (hon’an mono). The alterations to the original texts included names of characters and places, as well as tone and plot, to familiarise readers with European cultures, geographies and notions of modernity within the Japanese psychological framework. Such translations are an interesting example of how the mass media facilitated intercultural transaction in early modern Japan. One such example is Kuroiwa Ruikô’s Sute obune (abandoned small boat), serialised in 156 episodes in his newspaper Yorozu chôhô (October 1894 and July 1895). This work was an adaptive translation of the Mary Braddon mystery novel Diavola, originally published in the London Journal between October 1866 and July 1867. In Sute obune, Ruikô altered characters’ names to Japanese, offering a peculiar intertexual image - characters with Japanese names thoroughly at home in a European environment. This paper will focus on an intertexual analysis of names and perspectives in Ruikô’s Sute obune compared to the Braddon original, Diavola. The Japanese names chosen for characters in Sute obune are suggestive of their status, attitude and personality, as exemplified by the cold-blooded and scheming poisoner Kawabayashi, for whose name Ruikô used the Chinese characters signifying “skin” and “forest”).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-152
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of the humanities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Copyright Common Ground and The Author/s. Article originally published in International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp. 141-152. This version archived on behalf of the author and is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission must be sought from the publisher to republish or reproduce or for any other purpose.


  • intertexualitymarybraddondiavolakuroiwaruik�sute-obuneameiji-eraadaptivetranslation(honâ¿¿anmono)names
  • intertexuality
  • Mary Braddon
  • Diavola
  • Kuroiwa Ruikô
  • Sute-Obune
  • A Meiji-Era Adaptive Translation (Hon’an Mono)
  • names

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