|Molodyakov V.E. Claude Farrere’s Japan: country and its policy through eyes of French intellectual|
Claude Farrere's Japan: country and its policy through eyes of French intellectual
The article features the image of Japan presented by a French writer Claude Farrere (1876-1957), author of ‘colonial' and ‘exotic' novels about the Orient, from Turkey to Japan. The focal point of the analysis is the confrontation between the East and the West, the conflict between the old and the new described in the novel La Bataille (The Battle) about the Russian-Japanese war and in the ‘Japanophile' essays of the 1930s when Farrere approved Japanese colonial and expansionist policy in Asia.
Keywords: Japan, China, war, modernization, colonization, expansion.
Works of Russian and European writers and journalists of the 19th - 20th centuries dedicated to Japan justly attracted attention of researchers for the reason that "from the multi-cultural angle, the standoff between Japan and the West looked like an encounter of sea currents with different temperatures, in which a favourable environment was created for the growth of cultural biomass in the contact zone." .
In some cases, the main reason for the attention to ‘Japanesques' lies in the author's personality - whenever he is an outstanding artist and every work of him is valuable even if Japan is depicted in a way typical for his epoch. In other cases, the text itself has a value although its author may be forgotten or be on the periphery of readers' mind - this happens when work contains some material important for a researcher or causes a broad response and influences on contemporaries, particularly on their perception of Japan.
‘An ideal case' is a work of an outstanding author with an artistic and historical value, for example, ‘Japanese' chapters of Ivan Goncharov's Frigate Pallada or Boris Pilnyak's Roots of the Japanese Sun. Essays about Japan by Rudyard Kipling and Konstantin Balmont give an example of author's personality and outlook being more interesting than even text itself. In contrast to them, travelogue In Far-Away Waters and Countries by popular novelist Vsevolod Krestovsky, author of The Slums of St. Petersburg, wins attention by its content rather than artistic individuality of the writer. Finally, Pierre Loti's Japoneries d'Automne and Madame Chrysanthème, which hardly have any outstanding literary or historic merits, had a serious influence on the perception of Japan in Europe of the late 19th - early 20th century and hence became a worthy subject for studies . Contemporary interest of readers in Loti largely derives from these books.
It seems that works by all significant Russian, European and American writers about Japan, at least those written before the middle of the 20th century, have been studied, either in the context of authors' lives or the ‘image of Japan' as a whole, although a historian can always have something to do. As time passes, limits of research are expanding into less known or seemingly less significant figures. There is a danger of falling into anti-historianism, as the modern idea of the ‘scope' of a particular work and its author may drastically differ from the synchronous one.
The literary life of Claude Farrere (pseudonym of Frédéric-Charles Bargone, 1876-1957) can hardly be called unhappy. His very first collection of short stories Fumée d'opium (1904) made him famous, and his first novel Les Civilisés (1905) won Prix Goncourt, which was deemed to be a good start but did not guarantee the successful career of a writer. He was writing for the general public, so did not aspire for reputation or laurels of a Marcel Proust or an Andre Gide, and did not win the Nobel Prize (I do not know whether he was ever nominated). The widest dream of most French writers was to become one of the 40 ‘immortals'. After the unsuccessful attempts made in 1927 and 1928, Farrere was elected to the French Academy in 1935; he defeated Paul Claudel, an acclaimed poet and a former ambassador to Tokyo and Washington. According to Francois Mauriac, that was the most scandalous choice in the history of the Academy.
A gifted and industrious professional writer, Farrere published more than 80 books within 50 years, in addition to numerous reprints, and wrote prefaces for approximately the same number of works by other authors, which demonstrated his lifetime fame and prestige. Some of his most popular novels were reprinted in paperback Livre de poche series until the end of the 1970s. However the only biography of the writer was published 32 years after his death, under the title The Farrere's Case: from Goncourt to Oblivion . Later three of his most famous ‘Oriental' novels were included in large anthologies which underscored their historical value for modern readers .
Farrere was popular in his home country but his books were translated on relatively few occasions. Most translations were Russian: over two dozen separate editions, including major novels, published since 1909, only five years after his debut, till the end of the 1920s when he was declared a ‘reactionary' and ‘yellow' writer. Reprinting resumed only in the early 1990s but did not incite interest. The ‘Russian glory' of Farrere, entirely overlooked by his biographer, is another reason why he may have our attention.
The writer was mostly famous for his novels and travel notes about ‘Orient' in the broad sense - from Turkey to Japan. Acclaimed master of ‘colonial' and ‘exotic' novels and a fan of Kipling, Farrere was one of the staunchest Turkophiles and Japanophiles in France from the end of the 1900s till WWII. From this point of view he picked up the baton from Loti, pseudonym of Navy officer Louis Marie-Julien Viaud, whom he highly valued as a writer, although he was not his pupil or copycat, and who was once his commander in the Navy. Farrere's writings about Japan deserve to be studied even though there is only one article in French dedicated to them ; in Russian there have been only a few mentions of La Bataille novel, some of them written by the author of this article.
Japanophilic sentiments of Farrere are rooted in his descent and teen years, when he was still named Frédéric-Charles Bargone (later on, even his childhood friends called him 'Claude' although he did not formally change his name to the pseudonym). The childhood of the future writer, who was born to a family of a marine colonel in Lyon on 27 April 1876, coincided with a peak of active colonial policy of the Third Republic and ‘Japonisme' which conquered the heart of France in the 1870s. "I well remember from my early childhood two painted vases on the mantelpiece in our house - one made of wonderful green china and the other of an equally wonderful golden colour, both depicting numerous figures. One depicted Chinese and the other Japanese. That was the primary source of my knowledge about China and Japan. In my childhood days, China, Cochinchina (modern Vietnam) and Japan seemed to be the edge of the world. When my father, who had been there, told me about them, I imagined something beyond the horizon, a place so far, far away, infinitively mysterious and infinitively different from everything that I knew, what all of us, poor and boring residents of Europe knew,"  Farrere said in 1923 in his lectures later published in a book form Mes voyages: La promenade d'Extrême-Orient (1924).
Bargone-pere dreamt of being a sailor but failed. Son made his dream come true and entered the Navy Academy in Brest at an age of 18. There he befriended his schoolmate, a Japanese aristocrat called Jinzaburo Matsui (whose identity has not been established yet). His first year in school saw the beginning of the Japanese-Chinese war, in which European analysts, both political and military, predicted the victory of China because Japan remained ‘an unknown variable'. France was not viewed as an ally of Japan (despite supplying it with warships), but sympathies of cadet Bargone lied with the Country of the Root of the Sun, "whose tactics and energy made it victorious" (MV. P. 278). In 1897 he made his debut as a journalist writing about Navy matters and became the author of travel notes later on. Officers were permitted to publish their writings only with the consent of superiors (strictest interpretation of that order compelled them to use a pseudonym), so Bargone assumed 'Pierre Toulven' name. He abandoned it in favour of 'Claude Farrere' only after he made a final choice in favour of letters. Some said that interest of novelist Farrere in politics, which made him completely different from aesthete Loti, was amateur and accidental but that was totally wrong. Officer Bargone, who was inseparable from his writer's identity, had a professional interest in politics and did not hesitate to express his opinion, even if it differed with opinions of the command and ministry.
In more than 20 years of the Navy service Farrere travelled a lot in the Pacific and Indian oceans and immediately fell under the spell of the Far East, the perception of which combined what he saw with his own eyes and read in Loti's novels. His first trip to Japan, Nagasaki and its suburbs, which lasted only three days on 13 - 18 September 1899, made him think of 'a promised land'. The city of Madame Butterfly was described by Loti in Madame Chrysanthème from fresh impressions. Farrere depicted it in his novel, La Bataille (written in the period 20 October 1907 - 12 September 1908 it was published in a newspaper in November 1908, released separately in February 1909, and a final edition was published in May 1911) , by borrowing most secondhand details and inventing more. "It was a risky enterprise to write a novel about life in Japan when all he knew was the beauty of the Suva valley, a few stories and folk tales, in addition to the stories told by Japonisme of the late last century,"  noted the biographer.
‘Exoticism rhymes with eroticism' , but unlike most novels by Farrere, the love affair is secondary in La Bataille and the wish not to disappoint the readers seems to be its sole purpose. The novel was famous not only for its Japanese scenes but also for the artistically pulsating and professionally precise depiction of a sea battle of the era of battleships and cruisers - the first of its kind in French prose. "There is a battle in every piece of the novel, in gestures and in hearts, between Europeans, between men and women, and between the man and the sea,"  wrote the biographer.
Novel's leitmotif is the collision between the East and the West, tradition and contemporaneity, but there is no primitive dualism in Farrere's narrative. "The one who says Russian says Asian. As for us, we will soon be European," Japanese Navy officer Marquis Yorisaka Sadao told a Britisher and a Frenchman shortly before the Battle of Tsushima. "Our victory belongs to you as much as it belongs to us, because this is a victory of Europe over Asia (DV P 20)." "We are totally, totally European, my husband and I (DV, P. 12)," persuades them his wife, Mitsouko, whose boudoir is furnished in accordance with the latest Paris fashion and who refuses to pose to a French artist in her kimono, to his deepest disappointment.
"We owe the progress we are now enjoying to you, dear sirs," Europeanized aristocrat Yorisaka says. "We will not forget the ample patience and indulgence you have invested in this hard role of educators. The pupil was very slow and his mind stuck in centuries of routine responded to Western education with great difficulty . Still your lessons bore fruit. Perhaps, a day will come when a truly civilized Japan does credit to its teachers" (DV, P. 19). The aristocratic Yorisaka couple seem to be ashamed of their ancestral and national roots and are ready to give them up. They are strongly condemned by Chinese nobleman Chou Pei, a traditionalist to the bone and a friend of the French artist. "Japan has shown you a hearth from where the spirit of ancestors has been banished, a roof under which ten thousand thoughtless novelties have taken the place of traditions and endangered a harmonious future of the family and the race" (DV. P. 37).
In contrast to authors of more primitive ‘colonial novels', Farrere did not deem European civilization to be the only ‘civilization' and he did not idealize ‘noble savages' either. His descriptions of confrontation between epochs and cultures did not try to juxtapose one against the other but sought harmony. The Yorisaka couple accepted the rules of ‘the civilized world' and was ashamed of the ‘obsolete' past of their country, but they were proud of its ‘progressive' present and sure of its bright future. Marquis Yorisaka is a brave soldier and a passionate patriot as much as his fellow serviceman, Viscount Hirata Takamori, another daymio son who, however, took part in the 1877 revolt of Saigo Takamori. Hirata "does not speak either English or French but he is still an exemplary officer who is quite aware of the latest warfare trends. He is in charge of electrical machines of the Nikko (the ship where both officers serve - V.M.), and few European engineers can substitute him" (DV. P 79-80).
Rejection of traditions and ‘roots' is not anti-patriotic if it makes one more efficient in serving the country and the emperor. Loyalty to traditions does not mean rejection of the achievements of modern science and alien civilization for the sake of serving the country and the emperor. The blind copying of ‘imported' customs and fashion by those who have a rich history and culture of their own is described with an irony, because the author sees traditional Japan as a place no less ‘civilized' than France. Farrere does not take sides in this ‘battle'. He amicably spoke with Russians in Constantinople in 1904 but predicted a victory of Japan because for Japanese soldiers it was a defensive war for their own country, and Russians were fighting a colonial war on an alien territory and did not have clear objectives. "The Russians fought well but the Japanese fought even better," concluded the writer (M.V. P. 275-276). The complexity of the situation depicted in La Bataille is symbolically underlined by the fact that British officer Fergan allowed staying on a Japanese ship as an observer is a comrade-in-arms and a friend of Marquis Yorisaka... and a lover of his wife Mitsouko. His character is not a caricature but sympathy with British sailors was not in the traditions of the French Navy.
Farrere displayed complexity and multifacetedness of Japan's modernization by means of a few individual examples and episodes. The ‘moment of truth' came after the Battle of Tsushima in which Yorisaka and Fergan died. Hirata took command of the ship, earned gratitude of the squadron commander and was ecstatic with his victory: "a triumphant yell of victorious Japan, a yell of triumph of ancient Asia which rid itself of the European yoke once and for all" (DV. P. 156). He also committed seppuku for the reason that before the battle, when he was having a conversation with Yorisaka, "my weak mind made me utter the words which I now see as unfair" (DV. P. 160). What was he talking about?
"I hate foreigners with the entire force of my hatred," Hirata admitted. "You, who once hated them as much as I do, now love them. Haven't you borrowed, little by little, their customs, their tastes, their ideas and even their language, which you are constantly speaking with this British spy, your alleged friend" (Fergan - V.M.)? (DV. P. 139)
The answer given by Yorisaka was supposed to astonish his interlocutor as well as the reader:
"My false face was meant for Europeans only. Yet you, a noble Japanese, have been misled! Viscount Hirata, your ancestors died in Kumamoto (in 1877 - V.M.). Did you not understand the lesson they taught us by their defeat and death? A lesson of patience and caution! A lesson of cunningness! The time of battles won by the sword only is gone forever. Both of us went to school for defeating foreigners. But things that we learned there were nothing. Besides, we were bad students. Our Japanese brain did not absorb European education. So, I quickly understood the need to have a European brain, no matter at what cost" (DV. P 140).
In the end, hesitant Hirata asked the last question, "Are you sure that we will be victorious, just as you say? What if we suffer a defeat; can you imagine the nickname Europe will give us for our comical and futile imitation?
- Yes, Europe will call us monkeys, but we will not suffer a defeat, Marquis Yorisaka said.
- Yoshitsune himself suffered defeats.
- But we will not.
- I trust your word. We will win. But what will happen after?
- After the battle, after the peace treaty? You, Yorisaka, will go back to your home in Tokyo. You will bring your European brain, your ideas, your customs, your European tastes with you. You will be a hero, and the people of Japan tempted by your glorious example will copy your tastes, your customs, you ideas.
- No, said Yorisaka" (DV. P 141-142).
These words of Marquis embed the wakon yosai formula - Japanese spirit and European techniques (knowledge). Farrere, who highly appreciated military merits, admires both heroes and does not oppose one against the other, because both of them, unlike in 1877, are fighting the same enemy for the sake of their homeland and the emperor and by use of the same ‘European weapon'. Hirata learned a lesson from the defeat of ‘great Saigo': the sword of a samurai is useless against buckshot. Novelist Rachilde, a pseudonym of Marguerite Vallette-Eymery, wrote in her review of La Bataille, "There is an exterior Japan, which resembles a china collection, but there is also a Japan of ancient traditions, which does not forget its indigenous preferences. It may look European, but Japan which can cut its belly open for proving its nobility is still there. In La Bataille the new Japan and the ancient Japan look into each other's eyes" .
Farrere preferred aristocracy to bourgeoisie, but admired heroism rather than militarism. He knew that heroism took different forms. After she had learned about the death of her husband, Marquise Yorisaka "was standing erect and frozen, beyond recognition or comprehension, she looked Asian from head to toe, so Asian that even her European clothes did not matter" (DV, P. 176-177). She made the only correct or even heroic choice by the Japanese traditions: she went to Kyoto "for entering a Buddhist nunnery of daimyo daughters, wearing sackcloth and dying a dignified death" (DV. P. 180). This is how the novel, which is written in a rather ‘harsh' manner in contrast to the touching writings of Loti, ends. The biographer said it was ‘the opposite' of Madame Chrysanthème and the writer "was avoiding Japanesques, searched for a different Japan and brought Japanese nationalism to stage" .
La Bataille was the best known and long-living work of the writer or even his best: by 1939 it was still sold 30,000 copies a year and the overall circulation topped one million copies. Two plays were written on the basis of the novel, including one by Farrere himself, three radio performances were made and two films were produced; the second film screened in the United States in 1934 became the first French film successful overseas and competing with Hollywood products. Since 1919, Gerlain has been making 'Mitsouko' perfume named after Marquise Yorisaka.
Yet the novel did not fit the taste of Japanese public: frank conversations of Yorisaka and Hirata, in which one could suspect ‘Asian cunningness', and free life style of Mitsouko, who was ready to elope with an Italian aristocrat after her affair with Fergan, contradicted official image of military profession and Japanese family. In the preface to the ‘complete' edition of 1911 the author found it necessary to explain himself: "Three major Japanese characters - Marquis Yorisaka, Marquise Mitsouko and Viscount Hirata are much less photographs, rather, they are generalized portraits of the entire Japanese aristocracy, depicting its most important features. I am sure that neither Japanese Marquise has ever allowed intimacy with a British officer, and that not a single Japanese Navy lieutenant cut his belly open in the evening after the glorious victory of 27 May 1905" . It was possible for the Japanese to read La Bataille in the original version, but I found out that the only Japanese translation was made in 1991, a limited edition published by a small provincial publishing house , and there was no public response. The Japanese Wikipedia has articles La Bataille (about the novel) and Mitsouko (about the perfume), which indicates the person they were named after, but it has no article 'Claude Farrere'.
An analysis of La Bataille is necessary for understanding Farrere's later views on Japan and its policy. He saw the country, which charmed him, with wide-open eyes and correctly understood the motivation of its elites, which made even more interesting his evolution into uncritical Japanophilia and the ‘rose-colour glasses' view of the Tokyo policy in the 1920s and, especially, in the 1930s.
The writer picked up Japanese theme again in 1923, in lectures about his travels, which later comprised of a book Mes voyages: La promenade d'Extrême-Orient. The chapter "Ancient Japan" presents a general history overview, from myths and genesis of the people (which Farrere saw in the population of Oceania) to the "black ships" of Commodor Mathew Perry. He underlined "bushido, the Japanese code of honour, similar to the West European knight code, but more lasting, more absolute and, doubtlessly, more civilized." "It has been unchanged since the 13th century and still reigns Japan," the orator claimed (MV, P. 238-239). The chapter "Modern Japan" began with enthusiastic recollections of the visit to the country called "a promised land" by Farrere. He admired everything: landscapes, whose beauty outshined Cote d'Azur, elegant and refined life and things, cleanness of city and homes (atypical of the then Asia known to the writer), industriousness of adults and vivacity of children, and the fact that "the Japanese language did not contain a single insulting word" (MV. P 255). In his stories about Nikko, where Farrere had never been, he abundantly quoted Loti's Japoneries d'Automne.
"Day will come when Japan will be able to speak with the United States as an equal. America will lose its main advantage, the numerical superiority. Meanwhile, Japan, which feels too packed on its islands, will need to go beyond them" (MV. P. 279, 281), he claimed. "Our interests in the Pacific Ocean, the possible field of the future battle, are rather scarce, and I am confident that we will be neutral in conflicts which will happen there. At the decisive moment, our sympathy may lie with the Empire of the Rising Sun, for which I predict a glorious victory today!" (MV. P. 284). The final words give the key to understand the attitude to Japanese policy expressed by Farrere in the 1930s.
The writer's essays on global, including Asian, policy issues were not reprinted or translated into foreign languages; in fact they were practically not studied, which made them a promising field for research. They should be seen in the general context of the author's political outlook which transformed between the 1920s and the 1930s. Farrere was always a fierce patriot and deemed France to be "a land of taste and order", and Frenchmen "the most sensitive, most artistically gifted and cleverest people" . At the same time, racism was alien to him. "I am not one of those who think that the white are the only civilized people on earth" . The novel Les hommes nouveaux (1920) changed Farrere from a narrator and, often, a critic of French colonial policy into its apologist. "The reader is introduced to a carefully selected gallery of wise administrators, entrepreneurial, talented and honest businessmen who see exploitation of colonial countries as sort of a public service. Kipling knew how to avoid being cheap and primitive in ‘transforming' the colonial reality. Farrere lacquered it in a manner so naïve and clumsy and the well being and virtues described in Les hommes nouveaux are so clearly untrue that they lie outside realism and any artistry" .
This opinion of a Soviet critic Nadejda Rykova is basically correct, but Farrere not as much embellished the reality as constructed it in a didactic way, which makes appropriate Rykova's comparison to the second volume of the Dead Souls of Gogol, an ideal image of ‘peaceful and paternalist colonialism' . The idea was developed by a character in the novel Une jeune fille voyagea (1925): "Our French world, which we have shared with all our colonies, is based on justice, equality and free cooperation between the resettlers and the local population, and we should be proud of this. We did not begin with slaughtering everyone (a hint on the Britons - V.M.). Quite the opposite - we helped them live. This is not as simple as it may look at the first glance" . Even after WWII Farrere reminded his readers: "We brought peace to Indochina and civilized it" . Clearly, he fully approved Japanese colonial policy, the way it was demonstrated to the world.
The writer's liking for the actions of Tokyo was fostered by general situation in the world. He was sure that Bolshevism was the main danger to European civilization, not so much as ‘Soviet experiment' which lured some non-communist writers, but as ‘world revolution', especially in Asia, where revolutionary movement directly jeopardized interests of France in its colonies. There were personal reasons for Farrere's anti-communism. His wife, actress Henriette Roget, lived in St. Petersburg before the revolution and performed at the Mikhailovsky Theater, so the couple had many acquaintances amongst 'White' immigrants, including Fyodor Chaliapin and Alexandre Kuprin. In his senior years Farrere wrote, "We have lost beyond recall the poor Russia, which put an end to serfdom in the reign of civilized tsars that civilized it, just to find itself a real slave of cruel masters who destroyed all religions and replaced them with terror on a pseudo-scientific basis" (S. P. 161). Being inclined to authoritarianism as an alternative for ‘corrupt' bourgeois democracy, on one hand, and socialism, on the other hand, Farrere approved of ideas and the policy of Mussolini, Salazar and Franco (but not of Hitler!). Since the early 1930s he supported nationalist monarchist movement L'Action Fançaise and said that its chief Charles Maurras "taught me to think in a proper way" .
‘The extreme right-wingers' represented by L'Action Française and its same-name newspaper appeared to be the most Japanophilic element of French public opinion in the 1930s, which generally took an anti-Japanese position after the occupation of Manchuria and Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations. Members of that camp liked the Root of the Sun country for many reasons: monarchy, whose sacred nature was constantly underlined, enhancing conservative and traditionalist sentiments, suppression of the Reds inside the country and opposition to the expansion of the USSR and Communist International outside it, and the absence of real economic and political conflicts with France. One should also remember about the influence of ‘Japonisme' in the childhood of movement's leaders and ideologists, in whose life art was as significant as politics.
Popular writer who became a government-level ‘notable' upon his election to the Academy, Farrere cooperated with the France-Japon magazine (1934-1940) published with the support of the Japanese Embassy and delivered lectures at the French-Japanese Society in Paris. His journalistic book Les forces spirituelles de l'Orient published in April 1937, before the Sino-Japanese war, claimed that Tibet, Turkestan, Mongolia and Manchuria "were absolutely not Chinese" and criticized "good people from Geneva", i.e. the League of Nations, for ignoring that circumstance and "being geographically ignorant" .
Farrere's Les forces spirituelles de l'Orient put forward an idea of proximity of the ‘white' European (primarily, French) and Japanese civilizations, which looked paradoxical to many. "For centuries Japan has been developing in a way approximately similar to all our countries. In fact, I am not sure that the Japanese were an Asian people from the start; they became such by lapse of time" (FSO. P. 143). The writer's arguments were poetic rather than historical and were based on a thesis that ancestors of the contemporary Japanese came from an island in the South Pacific, possibly from "a continent, which disappeared like Atlantis" (FSO. P. 145), and brought a civilization the wild population of the island was unfamiliar with, including calendar, written language, seafaring, military merits and a code of honour, the role of which he unwaveringly underscored.
"Japan has always been a great country, with truly great people. It had its own Richelieu - Nobunaga, its Bonaparte - Hideyoshi, and its Louis XIV - Ieyasu. Given the number of geniuses and achievements, one can only wonder why Japan did not become the powerful country, as it is today, much earlier" (FSO. P. 159). Moreover that "contemporary Japan is the greatest country on earth, because it was the only country to strengthen both morally and materially after the war of 1914. But it need land to colonize rather than to conquer sooner or later. I am thinking about California, Oregon, Washington (the state, not Washington D.C. - V.M.), about vast lands of practically deserted Australia" (FSO. P. 169, 171). You wish!
Speaking of the ‘current moment' Farrere said that "Japan knows China too well to understand that it will gain nothing from being involved in Chinese squabbles. If it ever starts an intervention on the continent, that would be to deter Russia's invasion, either military or political. I am inclined to think that the widest dream of Japan is to put an end to Chinese anarchy, indirectly if that is possible or directly if this is needed," the writer said (FSO. P. 172).
This comment perfectly matched the ‘general vector' of Tokyo propaganda, and it was not surprising that the Japanese government formally invited him, "a writer known for his absolute independence", via the French Foreign Ministry to visit the country and its colonies. "The only question I asked was whether I would be free, totally free. I was given that guarantee and they kept their word" (S. P. 268-269). The second visit to the country of the Root of the Sun, paid 38 years after the first one, began on 30 January 1938, with a ceremonious welcome in the Kobe port. Throughout his visit the writer was accompanied by a young diplomat named Matsui, "a bright man and, doubtlessly, a future ambassador, a representative of an old aristocratic family whose father was a member of the House of Peers." (S. P. 269). Most probably, it was Akira Matsui, post-war ambassador to France and representative to the United Nations, son of Baron Keishiro Matsui, former foreign minister and ambassador to Paris. Farrere presented his travel companion with his latest book Visite aux Espagnols (1937) with an inscription "in the memory of wonderful hours spent in his company in Tokyo, which I owe him, with profound gratitude and cordial liking". Yet the young man did not even cut the book, and seventy years after it was added unopened to my collection.
The trip yielded a book Le grand drame de l'Asie written during the author's return home by sea (Farrere always wrote quickly). Impressions from Japan, which comprised of the first part of the book. After Tokyo, where he came from Kobe via Osaka and Yokohama onboard the best express train of that epoch "Tsubame", the writer visited Nikko, Kamakura, Kyoto, Nara and Shimonoseki. Impressions were bright but touching narrative was not original. Farrere liked everything he saw, both old and new. He was formally received by Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoe and members of the cabinet, of whom he was most impressed by Navy Minister Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai and his reticence (S. P. 269-270). These meetings were strictly protocol events but charmed the ambitious guest. "Why does a part of Europe, primarily England, refuse to understand the current position of Japan?", Japanese Foreign Minister Koki Hirota asked the visitor. "Exclusively by ignorance, your excellence," the visitor readily replied . He said he was prepared to do away with that ‘ignorance'.
A sudden bonus (or was it something arranged by the Foreign Ministry?) was a meeting with... Yorisaka, not the one from La Bataille, but with ‘living, real' as he introduced himself to the writer. "A long time ago you chose a name which sounded very Japanese for a character in your book," the polite stranger told him at the Tokyo hotel Teikoku (Imperial Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright). "But did you know that the name actually existed? Well, it does. I am here on its behalf to thank for the honour of giving that name to real samurais loyal to ancient honour in your book. We are loyal to it, and we will be loyal forever" (GDA. Р. 20-21). "Did Japan change?", the sentimental traveller asked him. "No, it is the same, eternal. A new from the outside, and eternal from the inside," he himself answered the question (GDA. Р. 42, 48).
The second part of the book "China and Japan in 1938" is of great interest: it contains not only impressions but also thoughts on what was seen on the continent. The author visited Korea and Manchukuo where he was welcomed with same honours and attention. A Japanese man smartly flattered the guest in Manchukuo saying that his fellow citizens "had extensively studied the methods of your great marshal" Hubert Lyautey (GDA. Р. 76-77), vice-roy of Maroc and acquaintance of Farrere who wrote an apologetic book about him. He admired results of Tokyo colonial policy. "Thanks to Japanese, Korea has become rich and fertile. Its farmland is cultivated. It is fully covered by a network of motorways and railways. Ports of Busan and Chemulpo are perfectly equipped. The same successes have been achieved in Manchukuo, although Japanese came there only seven years ago" (GDA. Р. 105).
Farrere based his analysis on comparison between ‘strong and young' Japan, despite of its long history, and ‘old or even decrepit' China, in which "alas, nothing had changed" (GDA. Р. 106). He developed this idea in the book Europe in Asia (1939): "China is still an old China, and Japan has turned into a new Japan by unique and energetic effort." Farrere dubbed Chinese ‘regimes' as ‘criminal entities" whose actions "Europe cannot simply imagine," and mockingly referred to Chiang Kai-shek as a man "also called Generalissimo" (GDA. Р. 108-109). French guest wholeheartedly approved of Japanese armed expansion outside Manchuria, used the word ‘aggression' only as regards the USSR and uttered, "Yes, Japanese have come to China, but not as conquerors but as organizers and keepers of peace" (GDA. Р. 122).
The writer put a special emphasis on 'Soviet factor' in the Far Eastern conflict. "Japan wants nothing from China, and China does not know what it wants from Japan. The situation would be inexplicable unless we remember about Moscow standing behind the curtains. And it is there. If Japan is fighting in China today, it is not fighting China, moreover the people of China. It is fighting communism. It is fighting for order and civilization, against enslavement by Moscow. It is not doing so for the sole purpose of altruism or everyone's wellbeing. Japan is a country of order, a country of high culture and social peace, and it cannot tolerate the spread of Kremlin barbarism near its borders. For Japan, Moscow means not only chaos, revolution and social breakdown as it does for Berlin, London or Paris, it also means fire, destruction, ruins and piles of corpses lying on the streets of its cities and villages," he declaimed (GDA. Р. 115, 113-114, 117). The writer called the Russians ‘pure Asians' (GDA. Р. 141). What would his friend Chaliapin have to say about it?
The enthusiastic appeal of Farrere for a French-Japanese union based on ‘internal proximity' did not impress his homeland. Philippe Pétain read Le grand drame de l'Asie sent to him by the author and sceptically commented on the difficulty of "shifting from the sentimental angle to political" . Transformations in the world politics made the French feel indisposed to pro-Japanese rhetoric. In July 1939 the writer finished a short book Europe in Asia which publishers did not want to release because of praises of Tokyo, a potential ally of Berlin, and criticism of Moscow. It was published only in October 1939, after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and deterioration of French-Soviet relations. The author finally formulated his vision of Japan as "Far West."
"No way would Japanese be an Oriental people. Their history and national traits connect them to Europe and America, even to Oceania, but not to Asia although after having lived on the edge of Asia for 20 centuries, the Japanese bear physical resemblance of Asians. Anyway, this is a mere appearance. Morally, the Japanese are much closer to the French than the Russian, the Hungarians or even the Germans. The entire history of Japan is the history of the Far West. The entire modern history of Japan looks like a copy of modern history of France or England. But it does not have to imitate Europe: a Japanese person is European by instincts or, probably, by descent." (ЕЕА. Р. 8, 56). According to Farrere, the French and the Japanese are particularly brought together by "national sentiment and patriotic enthusiasm" (ЕЕА. Р. 36). Appeals for French-Japanese friendship had to be curbed, but the author did not forget to mention that Japanese activity in the Far East was "a fight of order against chaos, a fight of Western civilization against anarchy of Bolshevism and the East" (ЕЕА. Р. 98).
An analysis of the image of China and Chinese created by Farrere is not an objective of this work but it cannot be overlooked completely either. The writer was very harsh in Europe in Asia, "The main mistake made by governments and diplomats from Europe, America and even Japan is that they take the Chinese for people like them. This is a huge mistake because the Chinese are drastically different from other peoples. This does not mean that they are above or below other peoples. They are different." (ЕЕА. Р. 19).
Ideas presented in that book found artistic expression in the novel La onzième heure on which the author started working on his way back from Japan in spring 1938 and finished on the brink of the new war in Europe in August 1939. The book passed military censorship in February 1940 and was released a month later. "Neither Europe nor Japan understand the Asia of many faces, which China is. The Japanese are not a people of the Far East, they are a people of the Far West" . The author gave the following definition of contemporary Japan, "It is a France but more disciplined, an England but less hierarchic, an Italy which refuses to be totalitarian and Germanized" (ОН. Р. 274). The main positive characters of the novel are Japanese diplomat Kiyomori Atsuda and his brother-in-law Col. Akira Nagaoka, the carriers of "samurai spirit, which is Western, not Eastern" (ОН. Р. 127).
Plot of the novel developing in China in spring 1936 is based on the Xian incident of 12 December 1936, arrest of Chiang Kai-shek by former Manchuria ruler, ‘young marshal' Zhang Xueliang and Gen. Yang Hucheng, who wanted to force the head of Kuomintang to stop civil war and to join ‘a single front" with the communists against Japan. The author called attention of his readers to the difference in dates and pointed out that his book was "fiction, not history turned into a novel" (ОН. Р. 117). Yet one can easily see Chiang Kai-shek in the Europeanized dictator Sun Chuowei and Zhang Xueliang in the treacherous and cruel bandit ‘marshal' Kong Wengchong. One character is a warrior and a man of honour respected by the Japanese. The other, a puppet in the hands of a mysterious and almighty Moscow emissary Darya Sergeyeva, was given a generous handful of negative traits by the author. I should add that, in the novel, French officers and diplomats help Japanese with whom they have complete mutual understanding.
The main, ‘adventure' part of this lengthy narrative with abundant descriptions and dialogues, is preceded by scenes from Tokyo life, and a whole chapter is dedicated to a show in Kabuki Theatre, which is not necessary for the plot. I guess, Farrere simply wanted to use his fresh impressions. The novel passed practically unnoticed amid the war and the defeat of France. The writer did not raise the subject of Japan any more.
Claude Farrere died at an age of 81 on 21 July 1957. He outlived his glory. "His death signifies the departure of a whole generation in literature" was the main idea of polite obituaries . Still the Japanese ambassador attended his funeral.
 Meshcheryakov A.N. Imperator Meiji i ego Yaponiya (Emperor Meiji and His Japan). M.: Natalis, 2006. p.7
 Funaoka S. Pierre Loti et l'Extrême-Orient (Pierre Loti and the Far East). Tokyo: France-Tosho, 1988.
 Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère: du Goncourt a la Disgrace (The Farrere's Case: From Goncourt to Oblivion). Paris: Presses de la Renaissance, 1989.
 Les Civilises (The Civilized) (1905) in the Indochina - Asian Dream anthology (Indochine - Un reve d'Asie. Paris: Omnibus, 1995); L'homme qui assassina (The Man Who Killed) (1907) in the Instanbul - Bosphorus Dreams anthology (Istanbul - Reves de Bosphore. Paris: Omnibus, 2001); La Bataille (1909) in the 1905. Around Tsushima anthology (1905. Autour de Tsoushima. Paris: Omnibus, 2005).
 Beillevaire P. Apres "La Bataille": l‘egarement japonophile de Claude Farrere // Les carnets de l'exotisme. Faits et imaginaires de la guerre russo-japonaise. (After "The Battle": Japanophile Bewilderment from Claude Farrere // Exotism Studies. Facts and Fiction of the Russo-Japanese War). Paris: Kailash, 2005. Р. 223-246.
 Claude Farrère. Mes voyages. I. La promenade d‘Extreme-Orient. (My Travels: Voyage to the Far East), Paris: Flammarion, 1924. p. 195-196. Hereinafter abridged: MV - indicating the page in the text.
 There are two Russian translations, entitled "Bitva" (the Battle) and "Dusha Vostoka" (Soul of the Orient), each published twice. I used second edition of the second version by A.G. Koiransky: Farrere C. Dusha Vostoka. (Soul of the Orient). M: Puchina. 1924. Hereinafter abridged DV - indicating the page in the text.
 Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). Р. 74.
 Ibid p. 101.
 Ibid. p. 75.
 "Like a man who suddenly comes out of a dark cave into the broad daylight, Japan temporary lost its bearing, it was confused and suffering from the inferiority complex. For some time, people on the archipelago believed that their country had nothing that deserved praise. But they did not stay idle, they began to learn instead": Meshcheryakov A.N. Imperator Meiji i yego Yaponiya. (Emperor Meiji and his Japan). P. 7.
 Quoted from: Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). p. 74.
 Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). p. 75.
 Quoted from: 1905. Autour de Tsoushima (Around Tsushima). p 779. Russian translation, that I used, did not contain that preface.
 Translated by Shoichi Noguchi: Kurodo Fareru. Sento (Battle). Fukuoka, 1991.
 Quoted from: Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). Р. 275.
 Quoted from: Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). Р. 283.
 Rykova N. Sovremennaya Frantsuzskaya Literatura. (Contemporary French Literature) L.:GIKHL, 1939. P. 123-124.
 Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case) . Р. 284.
 Quoted from: Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). Р. 285.
 Claude Farrère. Souvenirs. Paris: Arthème Fayard, 1953. P. 11. Hereinafter abridged, S - indicating the page in the text.
 Quoted from: Weber E. L'Action Française. Paris: Stock, 1964. Р. 568.
 Claude Farrère. Forces spirituelles de l' Orient: Inde - Chine - Japon - Turquie. (Spiritual Forces of the Orient: India - China - Japan -Turkey). Paris: Flammarion, 1937. P. 137-138. Hereinafter abridged: FSO - indicating the page in the text.
 Claude Farrère. Le grand drame de l'Asie. (The Great Drama of Asia). Paris: Flammarion, 1938. P. 31. Hereinafter abridged GDA - indicating the page in the text.
 Claude Farrère. L'Europe en Asie (Europe in Asia) Paris: Flammarion, 1939. P. 37. Hereinafter abridged: EEA - indicating the page in the text
 Quoted from: Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). Р. 336.
 Claude Farrère. La onzieme heure (The Eleventh Hour). Paris: Flammarion, 1940. P. 127. Hereinafter abridged: ОН - indicating the page in the test.
 Quoted from: Quella-Villeger A. Le Cas Farrère (The Farrere Case). Р. 395.
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