Donald Keene in his Tokyo home in 2002.
Donald Lawrence Keene
June 18, 1922
New York City, New York, U.S.
Donald Lawrence Keene (born June 18, 1922) is an American-born Japanese scholar, historian, teacher, writer and translator of Japanese literature. Keene is University Professor Emeritus and Shincho Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Columbia University, where he taught for over fifty years. Soon after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, he retired from Columbia, moved to Japan permanently, and acquired citizenship under the name Kīn Donarudo (キーン ドナルド, "Donald Keene" in the Japanese name order).
Keene was born in New York City and grew up in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, the son of Yiddish-speaking Russian Jewish parents. He received a Bachelor's degree from Columbia in 1942. He studied the Japanese language at the U.S. Navy Japanese Language School in Boulder, Colorado and in Berkeley, California, and served as an intelligence officer in the Pacific region during World War II. Upon his discharge from the US Navy, he returned to Columbia where he earned a master's degree in 1947.
Keene studied for a year at Harvard University before transferring to Cambridge University where he earned a second master's and became a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge from 1948–1954, and a University Lecturer from 1949–1955. In the interim, in 1953, he also studied at Kyoto University, and earned a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1949. Keene credits Ryūsaku Tsunoda as a mentor during this period.
While studying in the East Asian library at Columbia, a man whom Keene did not know invited him to dinner at the Chinese restaurant where Keene and Lee, a Chinese-American Columbia graduate student, ate every day. The man's name was Jack Kerr, and he had lived in Japan for several years and taught English in Taiwan. Kerr invited Keene to study Japanese in the summer to learn Japanese from a student he taught in Taiwan, for Kerr to have competition when learning Japanese. Their tutor was Inomata Tadashi, and they were taught elementary spoken Japanese and kanji.
While staying at Cambridge, after winning a fellowship for Americans to study in England, Keene went to meet Arthur Waley who was best known for his translation work in classical Chinese and Japanese literature. For Keene, Waley's translation of Chinese and Japanese literature was inspiring, even arousing in Keene the thought of becoming a second Waley.
Keene is a Japanologist who has published about 25 books in English on Japanese topics, including both studies of Japanese literature and culture and translations of Japanese classical and modern literature, including a four-volume history of Japanese literature which has become the standard work. Keene has also published about 30 books in Japanese, some of which have been translated from English. He is the president of the Donald Keene Foundation for Japanese Culture.
Soon after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Keene retired from Columbia and moved to Japan with the intention of living out the remainder of his life there. He acquired Japanese citizenship, adopting the legal name キーン ドナルド [Kīn Donarudo]. This required him to relinquish his American citizenship, as Japan does not permit dual citizenship.
Keene is well known and respected in Japan and his relocation there following the earthquake was widely lauded.
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Works in English
|The Battles of Coxinga: Chikamatsu's Puppet Play, Its Background and Importance (Taylor's Foreign Pr, 1951)|
|The Japanese Discovery of Europe: Honda Toshiaki and other discoverers 1720–1952 (Routledge and K. Paul, 1952)||日本人の西洋発見 (錦正社, 1957). Jp trans. 藤田豊 & 大沼雅彦
nihonjin no seiyou hakken 日本人の西洋発見 (中公叢書, 1968). Jp trans. 芳賀徹訳 [?trans of 2nd ed]
|Japanese Literature an Introduction for Western Readers (Grove Pr, June 1, 1955)|
|Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology (Grove Pr, June 1, 1956)|
|Living Japan (Doubleday, 1959)||生きている日本 (朝日出版社, 1973). Jp trans. 江藤淳 & 足立康
ikiteiru nihon Revised edition published as 果てしなく美しい日本 (講談社学術文庫, 2002). Jp trans. 足立康改 [?mistake. ?Separate work]
|Major Plays of Chikamatsu (Columbia University Press, January 1, 1961)|
|Four Major Plays of Chikamatsu (Columbia University Press, June 1, 1961)|
|Donald Keene, Kaneko Hiroshi (photography) & Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (introduction), Bunraku: The Art of the Japanese Puppet Theatre (kodansha International, 1965)||文楽 (講談社, 1966). Jp trans. 吉田健一
|Japanese Discovery of Europe, 1720–1830. Revised/2nd ed. (Stanford University Press, June 1, 1969)|
|The Manyoushu (Columbia University Press, 1969)|
|Twenty Plays of the Noh Theatre (Columbia University Press, June 1, 1970)|
|War-Wasted Asia: letters, 1945–46 (Kodansha International, 1975)||昨日の戦地から (中央公論新社, 2006). Jp trans. 松宮史朗.
kinou no senchi kara
|World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Pre-Modern Era, 1600–1867 (Henry Holt & Co, October 1, 1976)
Second book in the "A History of Japanese Literature" series
|日本文学史 近世篇, 2 vols. (中央公論社, 1976–77). Jp trans. 徳岡孝夫訳
nihon bungakushi kinseihen
|Landscapes and Portraits: Appreciations of Japanese culture (Kodansha International, 1978)|
|Meeting with Japan (学生社, 1979)||日本との出会い (中央公論社, 1972). Jp trans. 篠田 一士
nihon tono deai
|Some Japanese Portraits (Kodansha Amer Inc, March 1, 1978/9)||日本文学散歩 (朝日選書, 1975). Jp trans. 篠田 一士
nihon bungaku sanpo
|Travels in Japan (Gakuseisha, 1981)||日本細見 (中央公論社, 1980). Jp trans. ??
|Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era; Fiction (Holt Rinehart & Winston, April 1, 1984)
Third book in the "A History of Japanese Literature" series
|* Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era; Poetry, Drama, Criticism (Holt Rinehart & Winston, April 1, 1984)
Fourth book in the "A History of Japanese Literature" series
|Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era (Henry Holt & Co, September 1, 1987)|
|The Pleasures of Japanese Literature (Columbia University Press, October 1, 1988; ISBN 0-231-06736-4)||古典の愉しみ (JICC, 1992). Jp trans. 大庭みな子
koten no tanoshimi Later published by 宝島社, 2000.
|Donald Keene with Herbert E. Plutschow, Introducing Kyoto (Kodansha Amer Inc, April 1, 1989)|
|Travelers of a Hundred Ages: The Japanese As Revealed Through 1,000 Years of Diaries (Diane Pub Co, June 1, 1989)||百代の過客 日記にみる日本人 (朝日選書, 1984 and 1988). Jp trans. 金関寿夫
hyakudai no kakaku: nikkini miru nihonjin Later published by Asahi, 2011 and 2012. [?trans of revised edition]
|Modern Japanese Novels and the West (Umi Research Pr, July 1, 1989)|
|No and Bunraku: Two Forms of Japanese Theatre (Columbia University Press, December 1, 1990)||能・文楽・歌舞伎 (講談社, 2001). Jp trans. 吉田 健一 & 松宮史朗
noh, bungaku, kabuki
|Appreciations of Japanese Culture (Kodansha Amer Inc, April 1, 1991)|
|Donald Keene with Ooka Makoto, The Colors of Poetry: Essays in Classic Japanese Verse (Katydid Books, May 1, 1991)|
|Travelers of a Hundred Ages (Henry Holt & Co, August 1, 1992)|
|Seeds in the Heart: Japanese Literature from Earliest Times to the Late Sixteenth Century (Henry Holt & Co, June 1, 1993)
First book in the "A History of Japanese Literature" series
|On Familiar Terms: A Journey Across Cultures (Kodansha Amer Inc, January 1, 1994)
Reworking of the 1990–1992 Japanese newspaper column.
|このひとすじにつながりて (朝日選書, 1993). Jp trans. 金関 寿夫
kono hitosuji ni tsunagarite
|Modern Japanese Diaries: The Japanese at Home and Abroad As Revealed Through Their Diaries (Henry Holt & Co, March 1, 1995)
Later published by Columbia University Press, 1999 [?revised edition] Japanese edition published first.
|The Blue-Eyed Tarokaja: A Donald Keene Anthology (Columbia University Press, June 1, 1996). Editor. J. Thomas Rimer||碧い眼の太郎冠者
aoi me no taroukaja
|On Familiar Terms: To Japan and Back, a Lifetime Across Cultures (Kodansha Amer Inc, April 1, 1996)|
|もう一つの母国、日本へ - Living in Two Countries (Kodansha International, 1999). Jp trans. 塩谷紘
English and Japanese bilingual text
|Donald Keene with Anne Nishimura & Frederic A. Sharf, Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Woodblock Prints from the Meija Era, 1868-1912 (Museum of Fine Arts Boston, May 1, 2001)|
|Sources of Japanese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600 compiled by Donalde Keen, Wm. Theodore De Bary, George Tanabe and Paul Varley (Columbia University Press, May 1, 2001)|
|Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852–1912 (Columbia University Press, April 1, 2002)||明治天皇 (新潮社, 2001). Jp trans. 角地 幸男.
meiji tennou Also published in 4 volumes, 2007.
|Donald Keene with Lee Bruschke-Johnson & Ann Yonemura, Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne Van Biema Collection (University of Washington Pr, September 1, 2002)|
|Five Modern Japanese Novelists (Columbia University Press, December 1, 2002)||思い出の作家たち―谷崎・川端・三島・安部・司馬 (新潮社, 2005). Jp trans. 松宮史朗
omoide no sakkatachi: Tanizaki, Kawabata, Mishima, Abe, Shiba
|Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion: The Creation of the Soul of Japan (Columbia University Press, November 1, 2003)||足利義政と銀閣寺 (中央公論新社, 2008). Jp trans. 角地 幸男.
Yoshimasa to ginkakuji
|Frog In The Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan 1793–1841 (Asia Perspectives),(Columbia Univ. Press, 2006)||渡辺崋山 (新潮社, 2007). Jp trans. 角地 幸男
|Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan. (Columbia University Press, 2008)||私と20世紀のクロニカル』 (中央公論新社, 2007)
watashi to 20 seiki no kuronikaru Later published as ドナルド・キーン自伝 (中公公論新社, 2011). Jp trans. 角地幸男 Un Occidental En Japon (Nocturna Ediciones, 2011). Es trans. José Pazó Espinosa
|So Lovely A Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers (Columbia University Press, 2010)||? 日本人の戦争 作家の日記を読む (文藝春秋, 2009). Jp trans. 角地幸男
nihonjin no sensou: sakka no nikki wo yomu
|The Winter Sun Shines In: A Life of Masaoka Shiki (Columbia University Press, 2013)||正岡子規 (新潮社, 2012). Jp trans. 角地 幸男
Works in Japanese
|日本の文学 (筑摩書房, 1963). Jp trans. 吉田健一
|日本の作家 (中央公論社, 1972)
nihon no sakka
|Kobo Abe and Donald Keene, 反劇的人間 (中公新書,1973)
hangekiteki ningen. In conversation with Kobo Abe
|Ooka Shouhei and Donald Keene, 東と西のはざまで 大岡昇平と対談 (朝日出版社, 1973)
higashi to nishi no haza made'. In conversation with Ooka Shouhei
|Tokuoka Takao and Donald Keene, 悼友紀行 三島由紀夫の作品風土 (中央公論社, 1973)|
|ドナルド・キーンの日本文学散歩. Column in Asahi Weekly 週刊朝日, 8th Jan 1957 - 26th Sept 1975
Donarudo Kiin no nihonbungaku sanpo
|ドナルド・キーンの音盤風刺花伝 (音楽之友社, 1977)
Later published as わたしの好きなレコード watashi no sukina rekoodo
|日本文学を読む (新潮選書, 1977)
nihonbungaku wo yomu
|日本の魅力 対談集 (中央公論社, 1979)
nihongo no miryoku. A collection of conversation.
|日本を理解するまで (新潮社, 1979) [?trans]
nihon wo rikaisuru made
|日本文学のなかへ (文藝春秋, 1979)
nihonbungaku no nakahe
|音楽の出会いとよろこび (音楽之友社, 1980). Jp trans. 中矢 一義.
ongaku no deai to yorokobi Later published by 中央公論社 1992.
|ついさきの歌声 (中央公論社, 1981) Jp trans. 中矢一義訳
tsuisaki no utagoe
|私の日本文学逍遥 (新潮社, 1981)
watashi no nihonbungaku shouyou
|日本人の質問 (朝日選書, 1983)
nihonjin no shitsumon
|百代の過客 日記にみる日本人. Column in the Asahi Evening News, 4th Jul 1983 - 13th Apr 1984.
hyakudai no kakaku: nikki nimiru nihonjin
|Ryotaro Shiba and Donald Keene, 日本人と日本文化 司馬遼太郎との対談 (中公新書, 1972, 1984)
nihonjin to nihonbunka: conversations with Ryotaro Shiba Later published as 世界のなかの日本 十六世紀まで遡って見る 司馬遼太郎対談 (中央公論社, 1992) sakai no naka no nihon: juurokuseiki made sakanobattemiru. In conversation with Ryotaro Shiba.
|少し耳の痛くなる話 (新潮社, 1986)
sukoshi mimi no itakunaru hanashi
|二つの母国に生きて (Asahi, 1987) [?trans. 塩谷紘]
futatsu no bokoku ni ikite [Living in two countries]
|このひとすじにつながりて. Column in the Asahi Evening News, 7th Jan 1990 - 9th Feb 1992.
kono hitosushi ni tsunagarite
|古典を楽しむ 私の日本文学 (朝日選書, 1990)
koden wo tanoshimu: watashi no nihonbungaku
|日本人の美意識 (中央公論, 1990)
nihonjin no biishiki
|声の残り 私の文壇交遊録 (Asahi, 1992)
koe no nokori: watashi no bundankouyuuroku [Remaining voices: Record of my literary circle]
|Yukio Mishima & Donald Keene (editor), 三島由紀夫未発表書簡 ドナルド・キーン氏宛の97通 (中央公論社, 1998)
Mishima Yukio mihappyoushokan 97 letters addressed to Donald Keene
|日本語の美 (中公文庫, 2000) [?trans]
nihongo no bi [The beauty of Japanese]
|明治天皇を語る (新潮新書, 2003).
meijiennnou wo kataru [Stories of the Emperor Meiji]. Based on a series of lectures.
|日本文学は世界のかけ橋 (たちばな, 2003)
nihonbungaku ha sekai no kakebashi
|Jakucho Setouchi, Donald Keene & Shunsuke Tsurumi, 同時代を生きて 忘れえぬ人びと (岩波書店, 2004)
doujidai wo ikite wasureenu hitobito
|私の大事な場所 (中央公論新社, 2005/2010)
watashi no daijina basho
donarudo kiin chosakushou (zen-15gan). The collected works of Donald Keene (15 volumes) [excluding 日本文学史 The history of Japanese literature]
|Donald Keene & Koike Masayuki, 戦場のエロイカ・シンフォニー 私が体験した日米戦 (藤原書店, 2011)
senjou no Eroica shinfonii: watashi ga keikenshita nichibeiikusa
|Donald Keene and Setouchi Jakuchou, 日本を、信じる (中央公論新社, 2012)|
|私が日本人になった理由―日本語に魅せられて (PHP研究所, 2013)
watashi ga nihonjin ni natta riyuu - nihongo ni miserarete
|Translation of the History of Japanese literature series
- Chikamatsu Monzaemon, The Battles of Coxinga: Chikamatsu's Puppet Play, Its Background and Importance (Taylor's Foreign Pr, 1951)
- Dazai Osamu, No Longer Human (New Directions, 1958)
- Chikamatsu Monzaemon, The Major Plays of Chikamatsu (Columbia University Press, June 1, 1961)
Includes critical commentary
- Yoshida Kenkō, Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko (Columbia University Press, June 1, 1967)
- Mishima Yukio, Five Modern Noh Plays - Including: Madame de Sade (Tuttle, 1967)
- Chushingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers, a Puppet Play (Columbia University Press, April 1, 1971)
- Mishima Yukio, After the Banquet (Random House Inc, January 1, 1973)
- Abe Kobo The man who turned into a stick: three related plays (Columbia University Press, 1975). Original text published by Tokyo University Press.
- Dazai Osamu, The Setting Sun (Tuttle, 1981)
- ??, The tale of the shining Princess (Metropolitan Museum of Art and Viking Press, 1981)
- Abe Kobo, Friends: a play (Tuttle, 1986)
- Abe Kobo, Three Plays (Columbia University Press, February 1, 1997)
- Matsuo Bashō, The Narrow Road to Oku (Kodansha Amer Inc, April 1, 1997)
- Kawabata Yasunari, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (Kodansha Amer Inc, September 1, 1998)
- Yamamoto Yuzo, One Hundred Sacks of Rice: A Stage Play (Nagaoka City Kome Hyappyo Foundation, 1998)
- Miyata Masayuki (illustrations), Donald Keene (essay), H. Mack Horton [En trans], 源氏物語 - The Tale of Genji (Kodansha International, 2001). Bilingual illustrated text with essay.
- Donald Keene & Oda Makoto, The Breaking Jewel, Keene, Donald (trans) (Columbia University Press, March 1, 2003)
- Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Grove Pr, March 1, 1960)
- The Old Woman, the Wife, and the Archer: Three Modern Japanese Short Novels (Viking Press, 1961)
- Anthology of Chinese Literature: From the 14th Century to the Present Day (co-editor with Cyril Birch) (Grove Pr, June 1, 1987)
- Love Songs from the Man'Yoshu (Kodansha Amer Inc, August 1, 2000)
Keene has been awarded various honorary doctorates, from:
- University of Cambridge (1978)
- St. Andrews Presbyterian College (North Carolina, 1990)
- Middlebury College (Vermont, 1995)
- Columbia University (New York, 1997)
- Tohoku University (Sendai, 1997)
- Waseda University (Tokyo, 1998)
- Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Tokyo, 1999)
- Keiwa College (Niigata, 2000)
- Kyoto Sangyo University (Kyoto, 2002)
- Kyorin University (Tokyo, 2007)
- Toyo University (Tokyo, 2011)
- Japan Women's University (Tokyo, 2012)
- Nishogakusha University (Kyoto, 2012)
- Doshisha University (Kyoto, 2013)
Awards and commendations
- Guggenheim Fellowship, 1961
- Kikuchi Kan Prize (Kikuchi Kan Shō Society for the Advancement of Japanese Culture), 1962.
- Van Ameringen Distinguished Book Award, 1967
- Kokusai Shuppan Bunka Shō Taishō, 1969
- Kokusai Shuppan Bunka Shō, 1971
- Yamagata Banto Prize (Yamagata Bantō Shō), 1983
- The Japan Foundation Award (Kokusai Kōryū Kikin Shō), 1983
- Yomiuri Literary Prize (Yomiuri Bungaku Shō), 1985 (Keene was the first non-Japanese to receive this prize, for a book of literary criticism (Travellers of a Hundred Ages) in Japanese)
- Award for Excellence (Graduate Faculties Alumni of Columbia University), 1985
- Nihon Bungaku Taishō, 1985
- Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University named in Keene's honour, 1986
- Tōkyō-to Bunka Shō, 1987
- NBCC (The National Book Critics Circle) Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement in Publishing, 1990
- The Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (Fukuoka Ajia Bunka Shō), 1991
- Nihon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK) Hōsō Bunka Shō, 1993
- Inoue Yasushi Bunka Shō (Inoue Yasushi Kinen Bunka Zaidan), 1995
- The Distinguished Achievement Award (from The Tokyo American Club) (for the lifetime achievements and unique contribution to international relations), 1995
- Award of Honor (from The Japan Society of Northern California), 1996
- Asahi Prize, 1997
- Mainichi Shuppan Bunka Shō (The Mainichi Newspapers), 2002
- The PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, 2003
- Ango Award (from Niigata, Niigata), 2010
National honors and decorations
- (Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, Third Class, 1975)
- (Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Second Class, 1993)
- (Order of Culture (Bunka kunshō), 2008)
- Person of Cultural Merit (Bunka Kōrōsha) (Japanese Government), 2002 (Keene is the third non-Japanese person to be designated "an individual of distinguished cultural service" by the Japanese government)
- Freedom of (meiyo kumin) Kita ward, Tokyo, 2006
- Glossed as 鬼怒（キーン・ド）鳴門（ナルド） or kīndo narudo; 鬼怒 is usually pronounced kinu, as in Kinugawa River, and 鳴門 as naruto, as in the Naruto Strait, which are both well-known place names, yielding the reading kinu naruto. A further twist is that 怒 can also be read as do, corresponding to the 'Do' in 'Donald'.
- Fackler, Martin (November 2, 2012). "Lifelong Scholar of the Japanese Becomes One of Them". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2014-11-10.
- Cary, Otis and Donald Keene. War-wasted Asia: Letters, 1945–46. Kodansha International, 1975. ISBN 9780870112577 p13
- Donald Keene. "Donald Keene reflects on 70-year Japan experience" Japan Times. January 1, 2015
- Arita, Eriko. "Keene: A life lived true to the words," Japan Times. September 6, 2009; retrieved 2012-11-18.
- "Lunch with the FT: Donald Keene", by David Pilling, Financial Times, 28 Oct 2011. (Archive link)
- "Keene adopts shamisen player as son". The Japan Times. The Japan Times. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
- WorldCat Identities Archived December 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine: Keene, Donald; retrieved 2012-11-1.
- "Professor Gets Prize; Keene of Columbia Cited for Work in Japanese Letters," New York Times. March 5, 1962.
- "Donald Keene, 7 others win Order of Culture," Yomiuri Shimbun. October 29, 2008.[dead link]