Notes: This short book, published posthumously, prints the letters Kaneko wrote to Josephine Conger, his future wife, in 1904 and 1905, when they were courting through letters about literature and life. The original English letters are transcribed with Japanese translations on the facing page as a sort of primer for Japanese students learning English. In the letters, Kaneko discusses literature, ideas about women, thoughts on American culture, the nature of love, and the purpose of marriage. He refers to many pieces he wrote for magazines in the US and in Japan and responds to the clippings of Conger's work that she sends to him. Kaneko also brings up well-known Japanese men who married American (white) women. He gives the most attention to Nitobe Inazo, the author of Bushido.
While one-sided, as Conger's letters are not included, this is a rare glimpse into the courtship of a mixed race couple at a time when Asian-Anglo marriages were outlawed in a dozen states.
From his letter of May 10, 1905, it appears that Conger asked him what he thought about Onoto Watanna. Although not publicly known at the time, Watanna was the pen-name of the Canadian writer Winnifred Eaton who claimed Japanese ancestry while actually being of Chinese descent. Kaneko did not think much of her books, astutely observing, "Her Jap stories are not Japanese at all, as far as I have read."
Kaneko Kiichi (21 October 1876 – 8 October 1909) was born in Japan and as a young man came to the United States to study at the Meadville Theological Seminary. After graduation, he pursued post-graduate studies in sociology at Harvard. In America, he discovered Socialism and wrote for and edited periodicals during the rest of his short life. Through a mutual friend, he met Josephine Conger, who was also a Socialist and an advocate of women's rights. The two married and moved to Girard, Kansas, where together they launched The Socialist Woman (renamed The Progressive Woman) magazine. Kaneko's health failed and he returned to Japan to seek a cure, but died a few months later.
Published as Youth's Companion Library, no. X. [ii], 82,  pages, printed Western-style, opening right to left. Frontispiece portrait of the Kanekos. Very scarce.
OCLC: 673953605 (National Diet Library)
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing). A near fine copy in the original printed red wrappers. Early owner's inscription on the first blank, written in English but using a brush pen.
Publication: Tokyo: The Yurakusha, 1909 (Meiji 42).
Item No: #362432