Edward Seidensticker

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  • Born: 1921
  • Died: 2007

Edward Seidensticker was a prominent translator of Japanese literature. His many works included translations of the Tale of Genji, and of four novels by Kawabata Yasunari, as well as several books on the history of Edo/Tokyo as a city.

Born in Colorado, he initially studied English literature. He then studied Japanese language at the US Navy's school in Colorado, and took a job working for SCAP (the Occupation forces in postwar Japan). Though he is said to have dreamt of a diplomatic career, he turned to translation, and began translating Kawabata Yasunari's novels for New York-based publisher Alfred Knopf in the 1950s. In 1957, he visited the Echigo Yuzawa onsen resort in Niigata prefecture along with Kawabata and Harold Strauss (chief editor at Knopf), where he played some small role in overseeing the filming of the film version of Kawabata's novel Snow Country (Yukiguni).

Seidensticker studied Japanese literature formally at the University of Tokyo and Harvard University, and later became professor of Japanese literature at Columbia University. He became a giant in the field of Japanese Studies, alongside such figures as Donald Keene, Donald Richie, and Wm. Theodore de Bary.

He died in Japan in 2007.