NEWS
04.04.2019
RENOWNED JAPANESE SCHOLAR AND TRANSLATOR DONALD KEENE DIES AT 96

Tokyo, February 24 (Jiji Press) - Donald Keene, a prominent American researcher in the field of Japanese literature and emeritus professor at Columbia University, who translated numerous samples of Japanese literature, died of heart failure in Tokyo on February 24 at 06:21. He was 96 years old.

Keene was born in New York in 1922 and studied at Columbia University. He was inspired by the English translation of "The Tale of Prince Genji"; impressed by that novel, he began to study Japanese literature.

After the outbreak of World War II, Keene studied Japanese at US Navy Academy and translated Japanese military documents in Honolulu and elsewhere.

Later, he visited Tokyo and witnessed the devastation caused by the war.

Keene then returned to Columbia University, and also studied at Harvard and Cambridge University. In 1953, he came to Japan to study at the graduate school of Kyoto University. In 1960, he became a professor at Columbia University; two years later his services in translating Japanese works were recognized, and he was awarded the Kikuchi Kan Prize. Later he translated the works written by Mishima Yukio, Abe Kobo and others. In 1985, he received the Yomiuri Prize for his work “Travelers of a Hundred Ages: The Japanese as Revealed through 1,000 Years of Diaries” (Hakutai-no kakaku Nikki ni miru nihonjin). In 1986, the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture was established at Columbia University.

After the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, he moved to Japan and lived in Tokyo since the autumn; and the next year he acquired Japanese citizenship. His adopted son, Seiki, said that his father lived a rich and happy life, and his dream of dying in Japan as Japanese came true.

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