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Sugiyama Tojiro. - [Bunmei no Hana] A Fine Story of Womans Right - the Flower of Civilization [cover title].

Tokyo, Kin'odo 1887 (Meiji 20). Octavo (19x13cm) publisher's colour illustrated boards and cloth spine; two single page and four double page illustrations. Less than expected browning of the paper here and there and minor signs of use. A near splendid copy. ¶ First edition of this remarkable utopian novel of women's rights in which a couple work towards and see the establishment of two equal parliaments, one for women and one for men. This was written in the period of anticipation of Japan's first parliament, scheduled for 1890. Radical as Sugiyama was, there is a sting in the tail for current feminists: Sugiyama is clear that women should be equal to men in all things right up until they get married. Equality for men and women does not mean equality for husband and wife. Sugiyama published a rush of novels and political writing in the late seventies and eighties. These days he has been exhumed and is kept busy being rediscovered as a science fiction writer. I've discovered that two completely different covers exist: one, prettified, with a mock cabinet photo of a young woman against a floral background and this one, a solid western building in a modern city street. To capture the serious male reader who would not pick up what might be a romance for women? This is a 'ball cover' (boru hyoshi) book - a signal of modernity and the Japanese equivalent of a yellowback: flimsy western style bindings with lithograph covers that rarely survive in such good shape. Worldcat finds two locations for this, the National Diet Library and Berkeley, but I know the National Library of Australia has a copy with the other cover.
AUD 1200.00 [Appr.: EURO 809.75 US$ 780.04 | £UK 737 | JP¥ 112133] Book number 10842

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