IN THE UNITED STATES
1. Collection of musical legends.
“I have been thinking that we might some day, together, work up a charming collection of musical legends: each legend followed by a specimen-melody, with learned discussion by H. Edward Krehbiel. But that will be for the days when we shall be ‘well-known and highly esteemed authors.’” (New Orleans 1883)
2. Financial novel.
The houses eleven stories high, that seem trying to climb into the moon, -the tremendous streets and roads, -the cascading thunder of the awful torrent of life, the sense of wealth-force and mind-power that oppresses the stranger here, -all these form so colossal a contrast with the inert and warmly colored Southern life that I know not how to express my impression. I can only think that I have found superb material for a future story, in which the influence of New York on a Southern mind may be described. … (Letters from the Raven 85-6; my emphasis)
But he eventually gave up this idea. Why?
But in such great cities [New York, London] I do not think a literary man can write any literature. …. Society withers him up–unless he have been born into the manner of it; and the complexities of the vast life about him he never could learn. Fancy a good romance about Wall Street-so written that the public could understand it! There is. of course, a tremendous romance there; but only a financier can really know the machinely, and his knowledge is technical. (XIV 292-93; my emphasis)
3. Medical novel.
Apropos of a medical novel, again-have you had occasion to remark the fact that among the French, every startling discovery in medicine or those sciences akin to medicine, is almost immediately popularized by a capital story? (XIV 22)
I don’t like your plot for a medical novel at all. It involves ugliness…. Then your plot is too thin. It has not the beauty nor depth of that simple narrative about a famous painter, or writer-I forget which-whose imagination rendered it impossible for him to complete his medical studies…. He had to abandon medicine for art. A very powerful short sketch might be made of this fact.
I believe in a medical novel-a wonderful medical novel. We must chat about it. Why not use a fantastic element-anticipate discoveries hoped for-anticipate them so powerfully as to make the reader believe you are enunciating realities? (XIV 62-63)
1. Article on drinking sake.
I have become what they call a jogo-and find that a love of sake creates a total change in all one’s eating habits and tastes. All the sweet things the geko likes. I cannot bear when taking sake. By the way, what a huge world of etiquette, art, taste, custom, has been developed by sake. An article upon sake-its social rules-its vessels-its physiologlcal effects-in short the whole romance and charm of a Japanese banquet, ought to be written by somebody. I hope to write one some day, but I am still learning. (XIV 160)
2. Article on words.
You recommend me to write an article on words some day. I would like to – from my own limited point of knowledge only; ignorance of philology would here be a great drawback. But it would be infinitely painful, laborious work. Because really the art of placing words is with most of us instinctive. It would be analyzing one’s own sensations and tendencies of imagination; it would be nearly as hard as to write another “Alice in Wonderland.” (XV 441-42)
3. Book on Japanese folklore.
“Professor Chamberlain and I have a secret project in hand-a book on Japanese folk-lore.” (Ellwood Hendrick, July 1893, XIV 236)
4. Article on the disappearance of the gods.
There are no ghosts, no angels and demons and gods: all are dead. The world of electricity, steam, mathematics, is blank and cold and void. No man can even write about it. Who can find a speck of romance in it? … The Protestant world has become bald and cold as a meeting-house. The ghosts are gone. Sometimes I think of writing a paper to be called “The Vanishing of the Gods.” (Chamberlain, December 1893, XVI 84)
5. Article on Japan’s “open ports.”
Coming out of my solitude of nearly five years to stand on the deck of the Kobe Maru on the 10th, I felt afraid, I saw myself again among giants. Everything seemed huge, full of force, dignity, massive potentialities divined but vaguely. A sudden sense of the meaning of that civilization I had been so long decrying and arguing against … came upon me crushingly. … How small suddenly my little Japan became!-how lonesome! What a joy to feel the West! (Yokohama, 15 July 1894, to Chamberlain, reprinted in Allen, 277)
I have received from the gods inspiration for a paper-the Romance of the Open Ports-or, perhaps, the morality of the open ports. … I could startle the world with a paper on the ideas that came to me the other day.
… In the brief time since I got on the Kobe Maru I have learned so many astonishing things … . My imaginary hard-fisted and cold-hearted businessmen of the colonies vanish away-phantoms only; and in their places what warm human realities appear! Really there is a vast romance to be written here in a few words-with help of thoughts and illustrations from evolutional philosophy. Really, I must try later to get into this exiled Western life, and love it, and study it, and tell all the beautiful things there are in it … . (Tokyo, 17 July 1894 to Chamberlain, reprinted in Allen. 278)
6. Article on Japanese drama.
Father used to express his desire to write on Japanese ‘No’ (a type of drama) and the theatre. At the time when Dr. Tsubouchi was praising ‘Ten-no-Amishima’ of Chikamatsu, father was asked about translating them, with the view to introducing them to foreign countries. But the plot of the story, where a man leaves his wife and child to elope with another woman, was against his belief, so he declined to undertake it (Father and I, 10)
7. Article on inter-racial marriage.
Father, one day, remarked to mother about the bad results from marriage of close relatives. But inter-racial marriage produced bad results too, he thought He was thinking of writing on the subject to a foreign paper. When he consulted his wife, she replied. ‘You are a product of inter-racial marriage-but are you a poor product?’ He replied, ‘At times I think I am a very poor result, almost a waste. This is a result of a very distant inter-racial marriage, I think. So, I just thought that I would write about.’ ‘But,’ mother said, ‘you write about such a thing, but you and I are two different races and what about our children? Is it right to acclaim to the world the poor product of such a marriage?’ He said to her, ‘Do you think so?’ and he tore up his manuscript. I think of that manuscript now and imagine all sorts of things. (Father and I, 13)
There is abundant proof, alike furnished by the intermarriages of human races and by the interbreeding of animals, that when the varieties mingled diverge beyond a certain slight degree the result is inevitably a bad one in the long run. . . . -there arise an incalculable mixture of traits, and what may be called a chaotic constitution. (Letter from Herbert Spencer to Baron Kaneko Kentaro, August 1892, XII 461)