Sunday, November 24, 2013

Historical Accounts

First of all, SALE! There's a sale on Book 7 (Young Mr. Darcy in Love) on Kindle, now going for $2.99 until December 15th in honor of the release of Book 8, so go pick it up at this low-low price before it's too late.

Moving on, I'm going to give away a small plot point for Book 8 here, but during the course of the book, the younger Darcys (Geoffrey and Georgiana) meet the shogun of Japan. This was a pretty difficult thing for foreigners to do in 1828, but it did happen occasionally. I pulled historical for that scene adn the scenes leading up to it from a real source: Charles MacFarlane's book, Japan: An Account, Geographical and Historical from the Earliest Period at Which the Islands Composing This Empire Were Known to Europeans Down to the Present Time and the Expedition Fitted Out in the United States, etc, which was published in 1852, a time in which apparently you got paid by word in the title? Anyway, it gives detailed description of European interactions with the Japanese government in the Tokugawa period, prior to Japan opening its ports to foreigners.

I noticed something interesting about the book. The original compay I found was in the City College library and dated from probably the 1920's. When I went to order the book oline, I got a new reprint with a cover like this:

Now you probably didn't notice this, but there's a blank circle at the top of the book. Here's what the original cover looked like:

Notice something there? A Swastika. Now the Swastika has a number of different meanings, most of them originating from Asia either as a symbol of the mythic Aryan race that had/has nothing to do with Hitler, or a good luck symbol which became particularly popular in Buddhism. In Buddhism (the official religion on the Tokugawa regime, even though the Emperor himself was a Shinto priest) it also represents the symbol for eternity and is often drawn on the Buddha's empty chest. 

When the book was published it was entirely harmless, even in Europe. Obviously since then it's become one of the most negatively-associated symbols on earth to Westerners, something that still baffles people in the East. Clearly, when Elibron Classics went to reprint the old edition in 2005, they decided to wipe it from the cover and hope no one noticed. The original image is actually still in the book, opposite the cover page, as it probably appeared in 1852, as that's where prints were placed. 

I'm usually against censorship, but this is a rare example of when I'm not. India is loaded with swastikas, though the Hindu swastika goes in the other direction and sometimes has dots between the lines. I remember flinching in front of my guide on my first night in New Delhi when we stopped in front of one, and him rolling his eyes with frustration. Obviously he's had a lot of customers do this. But I didn't apologize for it either.

1 comment:

Cherri T. said...

Nor should you have apologized for your shutter, most people do shutter at the sight of a swastika. it may have symbolized something better or good in the ancient world but Hitler gave it the evil factor, pretty much forever.