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Humorous Othello: Tarokaja Masuda's New Othello (1907) and the Value of Comedy

幽默《奧賽羅》:益田太郎冠者《新奧賽羅》(1907)與喜劇之價值

Abstracts


Ever since Shakespeare was introduced to Japan in the late nineteenth century, the Bard has been regarded as an icon of the modernized West, a teacher of wisdom, an authoritative source of knowledge, and a master to whom utmost respect was due. Tragedies, a genre invoking solemnity and thought to befit a serious playwright, dominated the scenes of early Shakespeare reception. Shakespearean transadaptations in Japan often omitted bawdy language in conformance with the Bard's solemn stature, so that the ennobled Shakespearean language could remain "proper." During such a period, a unique comedy writer, Tarokaja Masuda (1875-1953), went against the grain by making Othello humorous, accessible, satirical, and full of slapstick. This paper brings attention to Masuda's forgotten New Othello (1907), a comic spin-off derived from one of the most renowned box-office hits of Shakespeare in early twentieth-century Japan-a localized Othello (1903) adapted by Suiin Emi (1869-1934) and produced by Otojiro Kawakami (1864-1911). This paper argues for New Othello's contribution to the development of comedy as a worthy genre as well as its revision of creative approaches to Shakespeare in Japan. New Othello not only embodies the malleability of generic perception, but also familiarizes and popularizes Shakespeare for a wider, entertainment-seeking audience. Last but not least, New Othello manifests the social capacity of comedies by demonstrating the transformative power of trust and love. New Othello further grants a happy ending to a cross-cultural and cross-class marriage in stark contrast to Shakespeare's Othello, wherein inter-racial and cross-class relationships could not last. The successful productions of this neglected play in Taiwan (1909) and in Tokyo (2018) bore witness to New Othello's theatrical cogency and sustained legacy, currently unexplored by the academic community.

Parallel abstracts


自莎士比亞於十九世紀末葉東傳日本以降,莎翁一向被視為近代化西方的指標性人物、智慧之師、知識之源頭、以及一位值得崇敬的寫作大家。悲劇作為一引人肅穆且契合莊嚴作家的文類,主導了日本莎士比亞接受史早期的劇場。日本莎士比亞翻案劇經常性地刪減莎劇中的猥褻語言,以便保持備受尊崇的莎翁作品的得宜性。在這樣的歷史脈絡下,一位獨特的喜劇作家,益田太郎冠者(1875-1953),干犯常理將《奧賽羅》改編為一齣幽默、平易近人、具諷刺性且充滿粗俗滑稽元素的劇本。本文關注益田被遺忘的作品《新奧賽羅》—一部改編自江見水蔭翻案、川上音二郎上演的《奧賽羅》(1903)的衍創之作。本文主張,《新奧賽羅》對日本翻案劇的文類發展史作出貢獻,並且翻新了明治時期日本人觀看莎劇的方式。《新奧賽羅》體現了文類歸屬的可塑性,更將莎士比亞推廣給以觀劇娛樂性為需求的一般大眾。此外,《新奧賽羅》實踐了喜劇的社會性功能,揭示信賴與愛能夠成為導正社會與人性的力量,倡導喜劇為深具價值的文類。最後,相較於莎劇原著中無法長遠的跨種族、跨階級婚姻,《新奧賽羅》替跨文化、跨階級的婚姻預設了圓滿結局的可能與可行性。《新奧賽羅》日後在台北與東京的重新搬演,顯示此劇對後世觀眾而言仍具相關性,惜尚未受到學界之關注。

References


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