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E.H.Norman: His Life and Scholarship

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Herbert Norman's distinguished life and tragic death, in April 1957, are recalled and examined in this book by scholars and diplomats from four countries-the United States, Japan, Canada, and Britain.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3235-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Biographical Sketch
    (pp. ix-xi)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)

    • [Part One Introduction]
      (pp. 1-3)

      An immediate disclaimer: The five articles that follow do not constitute a biography. Rather, each is a very different sort of sketch of Norman from the author’s point of view at a particular time in Norman’s life. Two of the articles – Reischauer’s and Kilgour’s – are somewhat personal reminiscences that recall very short periods during which each of the authors enjoyed a direct relationship with Norman. For Reischauer it was several childhood years primarily, and for Kilgour the months just before Norman’s death. Kiernan’s contribution, by contrast, focuses less on the man and more on the milieu of Norman’s Cambridge University...

      (pp. 3-13)
      Edwin O. Reischauer

      E.H. Norman is a name that does not come easily to my lips or pen. I cannot think of him except as Herb Norman, a person I have known since the beginning of my memory. There is a quality about a childhood friendship that makes it a matter of fact, expected to last forever, however little contact there may actually be in later life. That is the way I have always felt about Herb. We did in fact meet only very rarely past childhood, though our similar interests in Japanese history and our mixing of scholarship with government service kept...

      (pp. 13-27)
      Cyril Powles

      On 4 May 1957, just a month after Herbert Norman’s death in Cairo, his Japanese friends held a memorial assembly at the Gakushi Kaikan in downtown Tokyo. In the presence of Prince Mikasa, the emperor’s youngest brother, eulogies were delivered by Nambara Shigeru, president of Tokyo University, and around a dozen other notables and friends. Twenty years later, many of the same scholars showed that they had not forgotten their friend when they contributed to a special issue of the journalShisō[Thought] that discussed Norman’s significance for the study of history in Japan. Around the same time, others were...

      (pp. 27-46)
      Victor Kiernan

      The most stimulating environment may be the one with the greatest mixture of elements, and the Cambridge of the inter-war years was full of contrast and incongruities. Today, by comparison, it is more uniform, academically on average more respectable, less intriguing or exciting. In those days it had room for curious personalities, even eccentrics. Seriousness and frivolity, brilliance and stupidity, cobwebs and novelties, were to be found side by side. It was still a haunt of thejeunesse dore’e, who were there to amuse themselves in a playground of snobbery and upper-class lotus-eating. Edwardian self-indulgence was having its last fling....

      (pp. 46-72)
      Roger W. Bowen

      So reads a ‘confidential’ dispatch sent to the State Department by the American ambassador to Canada two weeks after Norman’s fatal leap from a nine-story Cairo apartment building in April 1957. Concerned exclusively with the ‘Canadian Reactions to the Suicide of Ambassador E. Herbert Norman,’ this dispatch catalogued the plethora of charges which Canadian newspapers levelled against the American government, ranging from ‘guilt by association’ and ‘character assassination’ to ‘trial by smear.’ Extensively quoted was a TorontoGlobe and Mailarticle which claimed that ‘the smear of Norman was just one more example of a long series of insults and...

      (pp. 72-78)
      Arthur Kilgour

      This article recalls some of my experiences working as the senior staff member to Herbert Norman at the Canadian embassy in Cairo during the six weeks prior to his untimely death on 4 April 1957. Mr Norman had arrived in Cairo as Canada’s ambassador in September 1956, a month prior to the international crisis provoked by the Israeli invasion of Egypt on 29 October and the Anglo-French attack two days later. The United Nations-sponsored ceasefire had been obtained on 6 November. The ensuing three months saw the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and French forces and the organization of the...


    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 79-80)

      All five of the contributors to this section of the book are widely published Japanologists of international reputation. They also share with one another a significant intellectual debt, which they themselves best describe, to E.H. Norman’s historical scholarship on Japan. Beyond these two facts, however, the five authors have little in common. Ideologically speaking, the distance between them is vast, ranging from the British conservatism of Richard Stony to the Japanese Marxism of Toyama Shigeki. That Norman’s scholarship, and in two, perhaps three, cases his personality as well, could appeal to such different sorts of historians on Japan bespeaks the...

      (pp. 81-86)
      Maruyama Masao

      It is a full week since theMainichi²asked me to write a few words about Herbert Norman. I still have not climbed out of the valley of shock into which their telephone call plunged me that evening in an Izu hotel. For days afterwards I seized every newspaper I could lay hands on and searched greedily for one thing only, almost oblivious of any headlines that did not concern Herbert Norman. Even now, as I take up my pen to write, layer upon layer of mental images defy all efforts to be brought into focus, washed as they are...

      (pp. 87-91)
      Richard Storry

      The memory of my only meeting with Norman, in August 1949 when he headed the Canadian mission in Japan, is still quite fresh. My diary records that I was ‘very taken with him.’ There was something a little larger than life-size about his personal aura. For he was not only extremely intelligent, but also totally free from any touch of self-importance or spurious official dignity. Having readJapan’s Emergence as a Modern Statewith enormous admiration, I found that meeting the author face to face was in no way a disappointment. He was clearly, in his own way, a great...

      (pp. 92-98)
      Kenneth B. Pyle

      It is noteworthy that at this time of the twentieth anniversary of E.H. Norman’s death (1977) there is a renewed interest among Western scholars in his scholarship. This interest is not the result simply of an effort to commemorate him, but rather grows out of new developments in the Western approach to the study of Japan’s history.

      The spark that rekindled this interest was the publication in 1975 of a collection of Norman’s writings under the titleOrigins of the Modern Japanese State: Selected Writings of E. H. Norman.¹The collection is edited by John W. Dower and is prefaced...

      (pp. 99-121)
      Gary D. Allinson

      Smiling lips and pensive face.’ It is an elusive, almost ambivalent image, but from my readings, it appears to capture E.H. Norman’s personal attitude towards his craft as a historian. He tried to summon feelings of serenity, concern, tolerance, and compassion for his task. These are surely qualities no historian would disparage, least of all those still influenced by the humanistic tradition of Western scholarship.

      Norman also referred in the quotation above to ‘humour untinged with mockery,’ and to ‘the merest suspicion of a smile,’ This imagery is yet more elusive. Norman seems to imply that, however serious the detachment;...

      (pp. 122-138)
      Tōyama Shigeki

      Twenty years have passed since the tragic death of E. Herbert Norman, and evaluations of his historical writings have changed considerably in that time. New appraisals of his work not only influence contemporary historiography, but could even have implications for modern politics.

      Norman’s work on Japan’s modern history influenced studies of Asian and Japanese history in Europe and America during the 1940s. In the fifties, McCarthyism dictated that his scholarship and thought be censured as ‘red’ Then, a decade later, when modernization theory had taken over the mainstream of Japan studies in the United States, Norman’s work was criticized as...


    • [Part Three Introduction]
      (pp. 139-142)

      Much of what has been written in the preceding pages has concerned Norman’s political beliefs, his ideological commitments, his scholarly debt to this or that school of Japanese historiography, and so on. This is all well and proper and totally befitting a Festschrift of this sort, but in the end it remains inadequate to the task of explaining Norman. To fully understand this writer, scholar, diplomat, and political victim, Norman’s words themselves must be read. This final section of the book provides this opportunity.

      Of the four chapters which follow, one (‘People under Feudalism’) has previously appeared in print in...

    • People under Feudalism
      (pp. 143-154)

      I would like to express my deep sense of appreciation to the sponsors of this meeting and to the citizens of Nagano for the very kind reception they have extended to me in connection with the memorial service for my father. When I lived here in Nagano as a boy I never imagined that I would return after twenty years to give a speech here. Although I am not fond of public speaking, I feel most honoured by the occasion and I am therefore very happy to stand here before you.

      I have chosen the subject of my address for...

    • Persuasion or Force: The Problem of Free Speech in Modern Society
      (pp. 155-169)

      To speak here in Keio University under the shadow of so fertile and powerful a thinker as Fukuzawa Yukichi demands that one contribute something original, pertinent to current problems, and above all composed in a lucid style. Fully aware of these requirements, I naturally hesitated at first to accept the invitation since I felt unable to guarantee that any talk I could give would meet the demands of such an occasion. When I finally agreed I was none the less keenly sensible both of the honour of speaking on the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of this institute and of...

    • On the Modesty of Clio
      (pp. 170-185)

      Some historians such as Carlyle have been fascinated by the strong men of history; men who cut through complex social and political problems by some swift act of military movement or dictatorial decree. To take one of the earliest examples, we have Alexander the Great who was of course much more than a conqueror or successful general, but one story of his career illustrates the point I shall try to make.

      Someone of the town of Gordos, whose name is unrecorded, had contrived to tie such an elaborate knot that no one could unravel it. An oracle had prophesied a...

    • The Place of East Asian Studies in a Modern University
      (pp. 186-194)

      I am very sensible of the distinction which the chairman of the Victoria University Council and principal have conferred upon me by asking me to address the graduating class of 1954. There is a certain nostalgia which this occasion brings to me as I recall my own graduation day in Toronto and also because my college in the University of Toronto bears the same name as yours.

      We live in troubled times when it may seem as if science has progressed at too great a speed, relative, at least, to man's ability to organize his life rationally. Yet it is...

      (pp. 195-200)
      Roger W. Bowen

      Change is a remarkably difficult concept to grasp in the abstract, but no less difficult in its reality, particularly as it is manifested by an individual human being. This is no less true in the case of a brief life. Norman lived to see but forty-seven summers, twenty-five or so as a politically conscious adult. In that short time, he changed from a classics student into a published Japanologist, from a graduate researcher into a provocative scholar, from a language officer into a skilled ambassador, from a doctrinaire Marxist into a Jeffersonian liberal, from an ideologue into a philosopher, from...

  9. Selected Writings of E.H. Norman
    (pp. 201-202)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 203-204)
  11. Index
    (pp. 205-206)