Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan

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Columbia University Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 196 pages
12 Reviews

"I sometimes think that if, as the result of an accident, I were to lose my knowledge of Japanese, there would not be much left for me. Japanese, which at first had no connection with my ancestors, my literary tastes, or my awareness of myself as a person, has become the central element of my life."

In this eloquent and wholly absorbing memoir, the renowned scholar Donald Keene shares more than half a century of his extraordinary adventures as a student of Japan. Keene begins with an account of his bittersweet childhood in New York; then he describes his initial encounters with Asia and Europe and the way in which World War II complicated that experience. He captures the sights, scents, and sounds of Japan as they first enveloped him, and talks of the unique travels and well-known intellectuals who later shaped the contours of his academic career.

Keene traces the movement of his passions with delicacy and subtlety, deftly weaving his love for Japan into a larger narrative about identity and home and the circumstances that led a Westerner to find solace in a country on the opposite side of the world. Chronicles of My Life is not only a fascinating tale of two cultures colliding, but also a thrilling account of the emotions and experiences that connect us all, regardless of our individual origins.


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Review: Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan

User Review  - Mark - Goodreads

I rather liked this book although it has no particular purpose other than giving a quite honest account of Keene's relationship with Japan. For those who are interested (and the topic is interesting ... Read full review

Review: Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan

User Review  - Oleg Kagan - Goodreads

I'm a fan of scholar autobiographies because I tend to identify with pursuits of the mind, applying myself to academic interests on a regular basis, if less fervently than Keene and others. Thus this ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Donald Keene is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University. He is the author of more than thirty books, including Frog in the Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan, 1793-1841; Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World; and Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion: The Creation of the Soul of Japan; as well as the definitive multivolume history of Japanese literature.

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