IN THE BEGINNING, WOMAN WAS THE SUN: The Autobiography of a Japanese Feminist — Hiratsuka Raicho, translated with an introduction and notes by Teruko Craig. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 432 pp., $35 (cloth)

One of the earliest among those who battled to reform the social and legal position of Japanese women, Raicho Hiratsuka (1896-1971), toward the end of her life wrote the story of her eventful, inspirational life. This was "Genshi josei wa taiyo de atta," published 1971-73 and translated here into English for the first time.

This English version comprises the first two volumes of the original four-volume edition. These are written by Raicho herself, the following volumes being put together by someone else. They cover the period 1896-1917.

Raicho took her title from her most famous publication, "Seito, a literary journal created by women for women." In its prospectus she wrote: "In the beginning, woman was the sun. An authentic person. Now she is the moon, a wan and sickly moon, dependent on another, reflecting another's brilliance . . ."