The Blog


Ian Littlewood, The Idea of Japan

11:00 PM, Dec 8, 1996 • By LEWIS LIBBY
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The Idea of Japan is an enjoyable and readable volume. It is incomplete -- What/s the true Japan, anyway? -- but to be incomplete is not to be without merit. The book resembles a Japanese sketch, in which the artist paints only portions of the canvas, leaving whole realms covered by clouds. Whatever else he has done, Littlewood has given us an intriguing analysis of popular references to a country of enormous importance to us. Perhaps one day he will address more directly some of the questions he has raised. In the meantime, we are left to ponder the meaning of the stereotypes he has carefully exposed.

Lewis Libby, a Washington lawyer and a former official in the State and Defense departments, is the author of The Apprentice, a first novel.