Between Different Cultures, A Memoir, by Joseph Roggendorf
Published by Global Oriental in 2004, 131 pages. Hardback with Dust Jacket (N2353)
Brand New Book
Originally published in Japanese in 1983, the year of the author's death, the English text of Joseph Roggendorf's memoir has only recently come to light and is published here in its entirety......
It opens with details of the author's birth in 1908 and young life in the Cologne region of Germany, takes us through the fascinating experiences of his youth, then into the 1930s, his first encounter with Japan as a language student in 1935, followed by further Jesuitical studies in Britain which concluded with a period at SOAS, University of London, before setting off for Japan again in 1940 - this time to spend the rest of his life there.
He concludes with a postscript in which he recalls: "After almost fifty years in Japan, I have also come to appreciate the importance of "akirame" and the futility of wanting clear-cut solutions to everything". Elsewhere, he says: "I have repaid to some small extent the unfathomable kindness received by this country by contributing to a deeper knowledge of Japan in French, English and, especially, German publications".
Roggendorf was a superb linguist and teacher ("most of my work in Japan has consisted in teaching Japanese students in the classroom"), a philosopher and theologian and, in the view of many who knew him, an extraordinary human being. His contributions in the field of Japanese cultural history and literature, including many translations, and his war-years editorship of Monumenta Nipponica, are well known and commemorated today through the Joseph Roggendorf Prize (Sophia University).
This edition of the memoir comes with an inspired, personal retrospective by Professor Edward Seidensticker, a close friend, who reviews the author's life-work, offers new light on a number of the milestones of the Roggendorf years in Japan and further illuminates a spirit which continues to inspire many.