Herbert Norman

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Norman, Herbert


Born 1909, in Karuizawa, Japan; died Apr. 4, 1957, in Cairo. Canadian diplomat and scholar specializing in Japanese studies.

The son of a missionary, Norman studied at the University of Toronto, at Cambridge University, and at Harvard. In 1939 he entered the Canadian diplomatic service. In 1946, Norman became the deputy representative of Canada to the Far East Commission in Washington, D.C. From 1946 to 1949 he was the Canadian representative (chargé d’affaires) at the headquarters of the occupation forces in Japan. In 1956, Norman became Canadian ambassador to Egypt. At the same time, he served as envoy to Lebanon.

Norman wrote many works on the history of Japan in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, including works on the development of social thought. His works are among the best Western studies of Japan written in the 1940’s and 1950’s.


In Russian translation:
Vozniknovenie sovremennogo gosudarstva v laponii: Soldat i krest’ianin v Iaponii. Moscow, 1961.


Topekha, P. “G. Norman: Vydaiushchiisia uchenyi-iaponoved.” Sovremennyi Vostok, 1958, no. 4.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Herbert Norman Samuels, Irvine, CA Admitted 1957; Died March 1, 2017
The cottage at Blue Sea Lake takes on an especially important role as it becomes something of a refuge when the newspapers report on Jones' connections with the famous diplomat Herbert Norman and publish a photo of each of them side by side.
Major-General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, a New Jersey state policeman who became famous for his involvement in the Lindbergh kidnapping case, later rose to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S.
It was in Paris that he first speculated on the importance of both France's and Japan's medieval periods for their respective modern cultures, and first formulated his theory of Japan as a "hybrid culture." Many absorbing tidbits inform Kato's reminiscences: for example, his introduction, through Herbert Norman, the Canadian diplomat and expert on Japanese history, to English literature, for which he developed a deep affection because of the "intellectual form of wabi" (quiet refinement) infusing its prose.
It is against this epistemological backdrop of how perceptions are shaped that an absorbing National Film Board documentary explores the career of one of Pearson's most accomplished colleagues, Herbert Norman. The Man Who Might Have Been: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Herbert Norman, chronicles the life of an unassuming Canadian scholar and diplomat who walked into the fire of one of the 20th century's most incendiary ideological conflicts and was slowly, fatally scorched.
Born in Nagano, Japan, in 1909 to Canadian Methodist missionaries, Herbert Norman assimilated himself as much as possible into Japanese society during his childhood.
The Man Who Might Have Been: An Enquiry into the Life and Death of Herbert Norman
Herbert Norman threw himself off the roof of a downtown Cairo office building in 1957.
In a fascinating new documentary on his life, The Man Who Might Have Been: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Herbert Norman, writer/director John Kramer has crafted an effective narrative of a complex and enigmatic story that still carries the chill of an unsolved mystery.
The degree to which the pursuit of Herbert Norman represented interference in an internal Canadian matter is very troubling.
For this reviewer, at least, the most interesting and revealing topics were those dealing with the Royal Commission on Espionage and its legacy; the persecution of diplomat Herbert Norman, film maker John Grierson and "peacenik" Reverend James Endicott; the strange symbiotic relationship between the RCMP and the CCF/NDP.
For example, in the section dealing with the Canadian peace movement during the Korean War Pearson is portrayed as a narrow-minded and vindictive functionary; while in the Herbert Norman case (1950-57) he is praised for his courage and resolve in upholding the honour of his colleague and friend.