Edwin McClellan, a Yale professor of Japanese literature whose translation of Natsume Soseki’s “Kokoro” helped make its author known in the West, died of lung cancer in Hamden, Conn., on April 27, according to his son. He was 83.
McClellan was born in Kobe in 1925 to a British man, an early representative of Lever Brothers in Japan, and a Japanese woman. His mother and older brother died when he was 2 years old. McClellan and his father were repatriated to Britain in 1942. In London, McClellan taught Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies as part of the war effort. At 18, he joined the Royal Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot, but his fluency in Japanese made him more useful to Allied intelligence. He spent 1944 to 1947 in Washington, analyzing intercepted Japanese communications.