Portal site for Russellian in Japan


Bertrand Russell at Keio University, July 1921, by William Snell(1)
From: Kindai Nihon Kenkyu(Modern Japan Study), v.14(1997), p.171 - 192

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Introduction:
In the summer of 1921 the British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell spent twelve days in Japan, "hectic days which far from pleasant, though very interesting.*1" Surprisingly, the visit is virtually ignored by Caroline Moorehead in her 1992 biography*2, and it received scant attention in Ronald Clark's earlier The Life of Bertrand Russell (1975). Indeed in Russell's own Autobiography (1967-69) the episode merits only five paragraphs. During those twelve days he met among other prominent Japanese thinkers and writers the radical left-wing anarchist Osugi Sakae (1885-1923) and his common-law wife Ito Noe (1895-1923) as well as a number of university professors. Although initially committed to a lecture tour, due to ill health he was obliged to cut this down to one lecture and some meetings with various socialists and academics. It is a little-recognized fact that Russell's single lecture was delivered at Kejo University, on the evening of July 28th, 1921, in front of an audience of over three thousand; an event that has even been overlooked by the university itself.
I would like to acknowledge a vast debt to Professor Norio Tamaki, Faculty of Commerce, Keio University, for his invaluable assistance and encouragement in the writing of this paper. Additional thanks are due to Akiyoshi Matsushita(=It's me), Senior Information Specialist of the Tokyo University Library System; Dr. Steven Large, Japan Research Centre, University of Cambridge; and Dr. Carl Spadoni, Research Collections Librarian, Mills Memorial Library, McMaster University, Ontario.

*1 Bertrand Russell, Autobiography, vol. 2 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1968),p. 133, hereafter referred to simply as Autobiography.
*2 Caroline Moorehead, Bertrand Russell (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992).