I have been immersed in information about Japan as I prepare for my trip in October. Since I am not going on a tour I have to make all of my own arrangements. It’s a lot of work. In order to maintain the mood I decided to reread The Tale of Genji instead of the mystery potboilers I usually read at bedtime. The book has been on my shelves forever. What I did not expect was that it would open a Pandora’s box of memories and questions, or should I say forgetories.
I thought I first read the book when I lived in California from 1957 to 1959, where, largely due to the influence of a friend, Jean Rosenstein, I first became interested in Japanese and Hawaiian culture. I had been interested in China since 1947 when I had a pen pal from Shanghai but it was impossible to think about China in 1959; Japan was making a great PR effort to reach out to us and seemed so accessible.
I clearly recollect discussing the book with Jean, but last night I saw that the copyright was 1960. So this discussion had to have been by letter, or perhaps on one of the visits we made to each other. We returned to Chicago in 1959 and a few years later Max and Jean returned to Adrian, Michigan, her home town. So now I want to know when we discussed the book and what happened to Max and Jean and their 5 kids who were mostly older than Robin.
I don’t usually look back. I have enough going on in the present to keep me occupied. And one of the sad things about getting older is that friends who were even older may well be only memories and questions remain unanswered.