During the Tokugawa period, works of foreign literature, especially popular Chinese novels, were in great demand as both translations and adaptations. During the Meiji period, the term hon’anmono, or adaptive translation, was applied to works of imported literature that were loosely translated and given Japanese characteristics. Between 1872 and 1900, dozens of Western novels and stories, such as Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat, appeared as Japanese adaptations. These adaptations, often serialized in newspapers and magazines, were not translations in the strictest sense, often being reset in Japan with the main characters given Japanese names and identities. Although later disparaged for their lack of correspondence or originality, these adaptive translations were a key means of introducing the canon of Western literature into Japan.

Historical dictionary of modern Japanese literature and theater. . 2009.

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