First published in 1898, ‘Moonfleet’ tells the story of 15-year-old John Trenchard, an orphan boy who sets on an adventure to discover the hidden treasure of the notorious Blackbeard. The book is set on the south coast of Dorset, in the small village of Moonfleet, in 18th century England. We find out from the very first page where the village takes its name from as John describes
“When I was a child I thought that this place was called Moonfleet, because on a still night, whether in summer, or in winter frosts, the moon shone very brightly on the lagoon; but learned afterwards that ‘twas but short for ‘Mohune-fleet’, from the Mohunes, a great family who were once lords of all these parts ”.
“Kappa was born out of my disgust with many things, especially with myself” – Ryunosuke Akutagawa
In Japanese folklore, the kappa is a water sprite described as being the size of a small child, yellow-green in colour, with a sharply-pointed beak and with fish scales instead of skin. They are mischievous creatures that are said to kidnap and eat children and in some stories even rape women.
Akutagawa was very interested in mythical creatures during his life, including the kappa. He started drawing sketches of them around the time his first son was born in 1920. 7 years later, the same year he committed suicide, he wrote the novella Kappa.
“Behind the depressing silence of the sea, the silence of God …. the feeling that while men raise their voices in anguish God remains with folded arms, silent.”
In the mid-1630s, in the regions of Shimabara and Amakusa of Japan, over taxation, famine and religious persecution of the local Christians led to the Shimabara Rebellion, an uprising which involved mostly Christian peasants. After the rebellion was defeated in 1638, 37 000 rebels were beheaded and Christianity was banned in Japan. The shogunate suspected the European Catholics to have been involved in this rebellion and trading with Portugal ended at that point.