Donald Keene Headshot Earlier today, news outlets reported that Donald Keene passed away due to cardiac arrest. He was 96.

Keene was a scholar of Japanese literature, who was born in New York in 1922. Keene found inspiration in Japanese literature in 1922, when he read an English translated verrsion of A Tale of Genji. This led to a blossoming interest in modern Japan, which led him to become a Japanese-language interpreter for the Navy in the midst of World War II.

Keene studied Japanese language at Tokyo University in 1953, and went on to teach at Columbia University. He obtained Japanese citizenship in 2012, in the wake of the devastating earthquak, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that rocked the Tohoku region in 2011.

Through his career, Keene was a driving force in the growth of Japanese literary studies across the globe. His portfolio spanned more than 600 works, which ran in sixteen languages, in more than 1,400 publications. Through his career, he had obtained fourteen honorary degrees, which included the University of Cambridge and Waseda University. In addition, Keene was awarded more than twenty awards and commendations, including the Asahi Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Source: Japan Times