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Otsuki Gentaku, Shimura Hiroyuki &c. - [Kankai Ibun].

n.p. [18--? early 19th century]. Manuscript of fourteen books bound into five volumes, 23x16cm original wrappers with manuscript title labels; colour illustrations throughout, many full page or double page, a few triple page inluding a map of the world with the Krusenstern-Rezanov voyage to Japan marked. A larger folding illustration for book 15 is on a separate sheet. Some insignificant staining and sporadic worming - none of it of any real consequence. Book 14 is not and never was included. ¶ The wondrous account of Japanese sailors shipwrecked in 1793, their adventures across Russia to St Petersburg and the return of four of them with the Krusenstern circumnavigation - Russia's first - bringing Rezanov, Russia's first envoy, to Japan in 1804. This account, issued in 1807, was prepared from two years interrogation of the sailors by Otsuki Gentaku assisted by Shimura and like most accounts of the outside world never published but circulated in manuscripts like this. The complete account is fifteen volumes, sometimes fifteen and a supplement but the map of the return voyage included in that supplement is in volume one in this copy. This copy was obviously copied from a manuscript without book 14 and another copy also without any book 14 appeared in auction a couple of years ago. That no two manuscripts are ever identical is a given but this is all more messy and complicated than the mere miscopying or copying of incomplete manuscripts than we might think. Something of a preliminary study by Vladsilav Goreglyad of the manuscript in St Petersburg which had belonged to the first Japanese Embassy in Russia and two modern editions based on manuscripts belonging to National or Imperial collections in Japan and manuscripts belonging to the Otsuki family suggests that there never was a single manuscript from which all other copies come. Hashimoto Hatsuko in his introduction to a recent transcription at Seika University of a manuscript copy spoke of seventeen extant versions. Theirs was notable for four points including the description of the "balloon spectacle" in St Petersburg. Differences in text between copies are beyond me. More intriguing to me are the illustrations. It's not just that copies were made by artists or amateurs of varying skill or attentiveness. When you compare manuscripts it sometimes seems that artists were present at the same place or event but in a slightly different spot, or time, and saw the same things quite differently. It's rarely a matter of slavishly copying, all of them seem to have reworked pictures to suit themselves and it's clear that the illustrator of this manuscript was influenced by Chinese drawing and painting styles.
AUD 6000.00 [Appr.: EURO 3613.25 US$ 3843 | £UK 3120.25 | JP¥ 570098] Book number 10271

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