qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Book Review: A Japanese Artist in London, by Yoshio Markino
I was led to this book by notes in the foreword to one of Chiang Yee's Silent Traveller books, citing it as a predecessor. Markino arrived in London in 1897, aged 27, having first travelled from Japan to America. He found California quite unwelcoming and racist, and his writing shows how much more welcomed he felt in Britain. Coming from a comfortable background, Markino found it difficult to get steady work for several years and clearly suffered hardship, although he seems to have had a regular supply of sympathetic friends and landlords. From 1906 onwards he illustrated a series of books beginning with The Colour of London and this set him on a more successful path.

There is certainly some similarity of style with Chiang's books, though this volume is much more autobiographical whereas Chiang writes about the places he visited. Chiang's use of English may be quaint on occasion, but Markino's is often grammatically flawed (and was consciously left thus by the original editor), though its meaning is clear. Sadly the reproduction edition doesn't do justice to the handful of illustrations. Some much better online versions are available at The Library Time Machine (and more). They seem to me to be much more European in style than Chiang, but also with an outsider's perspective.
Tags: art, books, history, london
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