G.R.'s Reviews > Impressions of Ukiyo-e

Impressions of Ukiyo-e by Woldemar Von Seidlitz
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Apr 16, 12

bookshelves: japanese-art
Read in June, 2010

For anyone coming to the subject and looking for a modern interpretation of the history of Ukiyo-e, this book is going to be an incredible disappointment. The information is totally outdated.

I have an interest in the development of the study of Japanese woodblock prints, and I enjoy reading books written in the 19th and early 20th century about the subject, so for me the fact that this book is based on writings that are a hundred years old was not a problem in itself... I find older works interesting. Unfortunately, this one is not simply a modern reprint of Dora Amsden's 'Impressions of Ukiyo-Ye', which was published in 1905. It is a joining of that book to the work of Woldemar von Seidlitz, without any indication within the book as to which parts belong to von Seidlitz and which belong to Amsden. I have the original Amsden book and on comparing the two volumes found that those parts that belong to Amsden have been edited in the new book, so the text isn't identical to the original. I can't fathom the point in taking an old work, which is so outdated that its antiquarian charm is the only thing it has going for it, and altering even that! In addition, the illustrations of artists' signatures included in Amsden's book are excluded from this one, as is the section entitled 'Hints to Collectors'.

The publisher seems to have taken two out-of-copyright books and melded them together without any regard for whether or not the finished result will be of any use to students of the subject. There is no indication to the newcomer, who is not familiar with the work of Amsden or von Seidlitz, that this book is not an original work or that it is a melding of two different works. In fact, the author biographies state:

'Woldemar von Seidlitz is a German art historian and a writer. His study of Japanese art is a work of reference in his field and continues the work of art historians before him'

'Dora Amsden is also an art historian specialised in the image of the woman in Japanese prints'

The implication here is that both writers are still living. Von Sedilitz died in 1922. Given that Amsden's book was published in 1905, how likely is it that she is still living?

The packaging of the book seems to be designed to mislead.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Roderick (new)

Roderick Hart This is a very useful review, especially for anyone who might be tempted to buy the book.


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