Book review: America waits 300 years for best-seller

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The Great Mirror of Male Love, by Saikaku Ihara, translated with an introduction by Paul Gordon Schalow. Standford University Press, 1990, $37.50 - A fabulous follow-up to The Love of the Samurai (reviewed in the May 1990 Bulletin) is the first complete translation of Saikaku Ihara's sensational Nanshoku Okagam/The Great Mirror of Male Love (1687). This work, which brought the author his greatest fame, remained inaccessible to Westerners for nearly three hundred years. In 1899, in the first survey in English to discuss Japanese literature, William C. Aston wrote of Saikaku's work, "The very titles of some of (the stories) are too gross for quotation."

In the new Victorian age of the 1990s, the titles are still apt to cause discomfort, if not revulsion. For example, the sub-title of this book, Honcho Wake Fuzoku/The Custom of Boy Love in Our Land, was too much even in 1990 for the Stanford University Press to include on their cover. In 1911, Edward Carpenter's essay "The Samurai of Japan" quoted a German researcher, Ferdinand Karsch-Haack: "How is it possible to justify the complete neglect of this literature? Saikaku's work down not only belong to the history of literature generally, but is also a mine of information for the history of Japanese culture, such as can only be left out of consideration by willful suppression of the truth."

NAMBLA members and friends are well aware of suppression of truth, as well as other devices used by church and state to present boy love as the most heinous crime ever invented. Common sense and even evidence are denied a hearing, as ignorance is the bigot's strongest weapon. (It is no wonder so many Americans are illiterate, as this serves both church and state.) Well, for those who can read, this book must be a kind of antidote to church/state poison, for it celebrates boy love as morally, spiritually, intellectually, romantically and physically superior to any other kind of love. It was so endorsed by Japanese church and state for a thousand years. [...]

We might agree with Saikaku when he wrote in the Preface to the book, on New Year's Day, 1687, "Our entry into the gateway of boy love has been delayed long enough!"

source: Book review 'America Waits 300 Years for Best-Seller' by Patrick Anthony; NAMBLA Bulletin, Vol. 11., n. 7; October 1990