Chapter

Erasing Footsteps: On Some Differences between the First and Popular Editions of Isabella Bird’s <i>Unbeaten Tracks in Japan</i><sup>1</sup>

Ozawa Shizen

in Asian Crossings

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9789622099142
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206632 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789622099142.003.0006
Erasing Footsteps: On Some Differences between the First and Popular Editions of Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan1

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This chapter examines the political implications of the revisions made to Unbeaten Tracks in Japan by Isabella Bird. The idealization of the Ainu people, the culminating northern point of her journey, consigns them to historical defeat, victims of the racial struggle for existence. In particular, it investigates how editorial changes alter the character of the traveler. It also shows how representations of Japan are accordingly modified. Finally, it reviews the most conspicuous difference between the two editions — the erasing of most of the references to missionary activities in Japan. Perhaps the act of travel writing is itself an effort to redefine identity, which contact with the other destabilizes to some extent. If this is the case, differences between the first and the popular editions of Unbeaten Tracks in Japan cast an interesting light upon the ways in which cultural boundaries are redrawn in the process of recounting travel.

Keywords: Isabella Bird; identity; revisions; political implications; Ainu people; missionary activities; travel writing

Chapter.  4779 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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