福翁自伝

Front Cover
Columbia University Press, 1966 - Authors, Japanese 19th century Biography - 407 pages
Here is the autobiography of a remarkable man. Yukichi Fukuzawa's life covered the 66 years between 1835 and 1901, a period which comprised greater and more extraordinary changes than any other in the history of Japan. In his country's swift transformation from an isolated feudal state to a full-fledged member of the modern world, Fukuzawa played a leading role: he was the educator of the new Japan, the man who above all others explained to his countrymen the ideas behind the dazzling material evidence of Western civilization. Dictated by Fukuzawa in 1897, this book vividly relates his story, from his childhood as a member of the lower samurai class in a small, caste-bound village. His escape from the hopeless destiny decreed by his social position, his adventures as a student of Dutch (the language of the only Westerners allowed in Japan), his travels aboard the first Japanese ship to sail to America -- all prepared Fukuzawa to write Seiyo Jijo (Things Western), the book which made him famous. His special perspective on Japan's tempestuous 19th century gives Fukuzawa's life story added fascination.

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The man, the legend. Compare this to Benjamin Franklin's autobiography and don't be surprised if you find it just as enthralling. After all, that was Fukuzawa's goal!

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