Seidensticker, Edward G. 1921–2007

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Seidensticker, Edward G. 1921–2007

(Edward George Seidensticker)

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born February 21, 1921, in Castle Rock, CO; died of complications from a head injury, August 26, 2007, in Tokyo, Japan. Japanologist, translator, historian, educator, and author. Seidensticker encountered the Japanese language during World War II, accompanying the U.S. Marines ashore at Iwo Jima in his capacity as a language officer. His appreciation for the language and the land of Japan stayed with him for the rest of his life. Moreover, he spent much of his career fostering a similar appreciation in others. Seidensticker worked in Japan for several years, first as a foreign service officer of the United States, then as an instructor at Sophia University. While there he became acquainted with some of Japan's most revered authors and began translating their masterpieces for American readers. It is estimated that Seidensticker translated more than a hundred literary works in his lifetime, introducing English speakers to the writings of Yukio Michima, Yasunari Kawabata, Junichiro Tanizaki, and others. One work in particular impressed the critics: Seidensticker's painstaking translation of The Tale of Genji (1975), written originally in the eleventh century by the courtesan Murasaki Shikibu, a work over which he labored for more than ten years. In 1962 Seidensticker began teaching in the United States, first at Stanford University, then at the University of Michigan. He was a professor of Japanese at Columbia University from 1977 until his retirement in 1986. By this time Seidensticker had begun to write about Japanese history and culture, including a two-volume history of Tokyo and a personal memoir of the city. Seidensticker was honored in Japan by the Order of the Rising Sun, the Kikuchi Kan Prize in 1977, the Goto Miyoko Prize in 1982, and the Yamagata Banto Prize in 1992. Among American awards was a 1970 National Book Award for his translation of The Sound of the Mountain by Kawabata. Seidensticker's own writings include Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake (1983), Tokyo Rising: The City since the Great Earthquake (1990), and Tokyo Central: A Memoir (2002).

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

BOOKS

Gatten, Aileen, and Anthony Hood Chambers, editors, New Leaves: Studies and Translations of Japanese Literature in Honor of Edward Seidensticker, Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI), 1993.

Seidensticker, Edward G., Tokyo Central: A Memoir, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 2002.

PERIODICALS

Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2007, p. B8.

New York TImes, August 31, 2007, p. A19.

Times (London, England), September 17, 2007, p. 59.