Published in Prague in 1926, this is a book of Japanese children’s tales, translated into Czech. Along with the tales, about half the book contains the author’s observations of the customs and life of children in Japan. The author, Josef Hloucha (1881-1957), has been called “the greatest Czech collector of Japanese art” and the book is illustrated with over 50 reproductions of photographs and woodcuts from his collection. The binding was designed to mimic the Japanese fukurotoji binding style, which Hloucha was very familiar with–over 600 examples of Japanese books dating from Edo to Taishō periods that he collected now reside at the National Gallery in Prague.¹
This is the only copy of Pohádky Japonských Dětí available at a library in North America–how did it come to be here? It is part of a gift to the college from John W. Dower (AC class of 1959) along with his papers. As described in the finding aid for the Dower Papers, Dower is a noted American scholar on the history of Japan, who has won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, among other honors. His papers are:
chiefly a collection of primary and secondary research materials compiled by John W. Dower in the course of several decades of teaching, research, writing and publication on the history of Japan, particularly with regard to World War II and its aftermath, popular media and racial representation. It includes articles, archival source material, correspondence, photographs, research notes, and draft manuscripts for several of Professor Dower’s publications. … Together with the papers, Professor Dower donated a large collection of books and videos on Japanese history, culture, and cinema. These will be catalogued and added to the main collection of the Amherst College Library or to Archives and Special Collections. In addition, his gift also included 37 boxes of books and files comprising the bulk of the research library for a program and website at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2002-2014) called “Visualizing Cultures,” focusing on Japan and China in the modern world.²
The majority of these books are being added to the circulating collection of Frost Library. At the present time, over 300 have been added, and fewer than 20 have been placed in Archives and Special Collections due to age, scarcity, or fragility. Follow this link to see all the Dower gift books which have been cataloged so far. My heartfelt thanks go to Sharon Domier, the East Asian Studies Librarian, for all her excellent work on this collection.
¹Honcoopová, Helena, “Joe Hloucha – A Short Biography,” in Japanese Illustrated Books and Manuscripts from the National Gallery in Prague: a Descriptive Catalogue (Zbraslav : National Gallery, 1998), 12-14.
²Finding aid for the John W. Dower (AC 1959) Papers, 1850-2010 (Bulk: 1941-2010) http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/amherst/ma288.html