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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Professor Ciaran Murray

Professor Ciaran Murray

Ciaran Murray was born in Carlow, Ireland, residence of Sir William Temple, who went on to become British Ambassador to the Netherlands. Here he had opportunities of meeting the Dutch of Deshima, who on returning from their annual visits to Tokyo were taken to the gardens of Kyoto. These, at a time when European gardens were geometrical, caused astonishment by their irregularity, for which Temple reports the term sharawadgi (evidently the modern sorowaji). His description, seen through the press by Temple’s secretary Jonathan Swift (whose Gulliver, it will be remembered, visited Japan), became the basis for the irregular English garden and the Romantic return to nature.

For his exploration of this subject, Ciaran Murray was awarded a doctorate by the National University of Ireland, and his book Sharawadgi: The Romantic Return to Nature (Rowman & Littlefield) has been welcomed in such countries as China, Russia and the United States as well as Japan and England, most recently in the Times Literary Supplement. Dr. Murray has been informed by the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary that, as a result of his representations, their third edition will give the origin of sharawadgi as Japanese (previous editions having described it as “unknown”). He points out that the Japanese antecedents of the word were first noticed (as long ago as 1931) by a member of the Asiatic Society of Japan.

He is currently working on a sequel to Sharawadgi, which is to continue the story from Romanticism through the Aestheticism of Whistler and Wilde to the Modernism of Pound, Eliot and Hemingway. The forthcoming lecture is intended as a preview of this study. Dr. Murray is a professor at Chuo University, former Editor-in-Chief and current Consulting Editor of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, and a member of the Society’s Council.

Source: The Asiatic Society of Japan

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