The First English Translation of Ranpo’s Strange Tale of Panorama Island

Strange Tale of Panorama IslandEdogawa Ranpo (1894-1965) was a great admirer of Edgar Allan Poe and like Poe drew on his penchant for the grotesque and the bizarre to explore the boundaries of conventional thought. Best known as the founder of the modern Japanese detective novel, Ranpo wrote for a youthful audience, and a taste for playacting and theatre animates his stories. His writing is often associated with the era of ero guro nansense (erotic grotesque nonsense), which accompanied the rise of mass culture and mass media in urban Japan in the 1920s. Characterized by an almost lurid fascination with simulacra and illusion, the era’s sensibility permeates Ranpo’s first major work and one of his finest achievements, Strange Tale of Panorama Island (Panoramato kidan), published in 1926.

This first English translation of Panoramato kidan by Elaine Kazu Gerbert includes a critical introduction and notes and uncovers for English-language readers an important new dimension of an ever stimulating, provocative talent.

“Ranpo is already a hot commodity on the international literary and cultural scene, and Strange Tale of Panorama Island should find its way onto many a ‘modern Japan’ or ‘modern East Asia’ syllabus. Gerbert, one of the really gifted translators of her generation, provides a graceful, seductive rendering of a landscape that incubates horror, and a superb introduction to this metaphysical thriller—one of Ranpo’’s most significant works.” —Paul Anderer, Columbia University

January 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3703-7 / $17.00 (PAPER)