COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY FACULTY HOUSE—JCCI representatives recently attended a Memorial Service for Donald Keene, Alumnus, University Professor Emeritus, and Shincho Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature, organized by the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture and co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University.
Keene, this year’s Commemorative Awardee for JCCI’s 35th Annual Dinner Gala, the Power of Unwavering Harmony next month, was the advocate for Japanese literary studies in the United States and beyond, inspiring generations of students during his teachings. Among his many accomplished works and translations, his magnum opus to his scholarship is his multivolume history of Japanese literature, written over nearly two decades: World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Pre-modern Era, 1600-1867 (1976); Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era (1984), and Seeds in the Heart: Japanese Literature from Earliest Times to the Late Sixteenth Century (1993).
While his complete list of awards would fill up an entire page, some of his most exemplary honors include the Order of the Rising Sun, Third Class in 1975 and the Order of the Rising Sun, Second Class, in 1993 from the Japanese government. In addition, he was named Person of Cultural Merit in 2002, and was granted the high honor of the Order of Culture in 2008.
“In the past, whenever I came to New York and visited Columbia, it was always along with my father,” Seiki Keene, his son, said. “This time I am coming alone for the first time. It is lonely to be here by myself, but strangely I also feel that my father is always by my side…my father was a man of great humor and wit. He was much loved for his sense of humor, which was refined and never hurtful. He was also a man with an extreme love for peace and hatred of discrimination.”
Seiki Keene will be accepting the Commemorative Award at the Gala on Donald Keene’s behalf in November.
“In the past, whenever I came to New York and visited Columbia, it was always along with my father,” Seiki Keene, his son, said. “This time I am coming alone for the first time. It is lonely to be here by myself, but strangely I also feel that my father is always by my side.”
All photos by D. Ernst