Basho and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $23.96
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 40%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (9) from $23.96   
  • New (6) from $28.83   
  • Used (3) from $23.96   


This book has a dual purpose. The first is to present in a new English translation 255 representative hokku (or haiku) poems of Matsuo Basho (1644-94), the Japanese poet who is generally considered the most influential figure in the history of the genre. The second is to make available in English a wide spectrum of Japanese critical commentary on the poems over the last three hundred years. The hokku are arranged in chronological order, so the reader can trace the gradual process through which the poet perfected his art. Basho was a tireless experimenter who explored the potential of his poetic form throughout his career, and the results of his explorations are everywhere visible in his work. The translated poems are grouped by year of composition (except for three longer groupings before 1675). Each group is introduced by a biographical section reviewing the events in Basho's life during that year. The author also provides the original Japanese in romanization; a literal, word-for-word translation; and, when necessary, an explanatory note dealing with specific words and names, contemporary customs, and the like. Because of Basho's great fame, a massive amount of critical commentary has been written on his poems. For each poem, the author provides a selection of representative excerpts from commentaries, showing how different generations (or different scholars within the same generation) have approached Basho's poems in different ways. These commentaries point up the fact that a hokku, consisting of only seventeen syllables, invites the active participation of the reader. The hokku poet leaves the poem unfinished, so to speak, and each reader is expected to "complete" it with a personal interpretation. The Introduction discusses the basic nature of hokku, Basho's contribution to its development, the history of Basho criticism, problems of translation, and other useful information. The book also includes a glossary of literary terms, indexes of the complete poem
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Matsuo Basho is perhaps the best known of all classical Japanese poets, achieving a prodigious output in a variety of genres and styles. His impact on the literature and philosophy of that country has been great. Ueda aids us by selecting some of Basho's best efforts and then relating them to the body of criticism available. This approach is especially effective, for it facilitates use of the text for the two stated purposes of translation and criticism availability. More than that, a useful chronological history of Basho the man emerges from the work and commentaries provided. Especially helpful are the references to hokku' s development into haiku, and the emergence of karumi, that style of ``lightness'' that is the hallmark of the mature Basho. Filled with erudite scholarship and evocative of an age of great literature, this book is essential for all collections of poetic literature and criticism and is highly recommended for academic libraries as well.-- Mike Heines, USAF Rome Laboratory Technical Lib., N.Y.
From the Publisher
“The first book in a Western language that conveys the richness, range, genius, and power of Basho’s poetry. . . . A gem of a work.”—Chanoyu Quarterly
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804725262
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1995
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 468
  • Sales rank: 1,371,820
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Makoto Ueda is Professor of Japanese at Stanford University.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Making of a Poet, 1644-1677 15
2 Haikai Master in Edo, 1678-1683 43
3 Two Western Journeys, 1684-1688 93
4 The Narrow Road to the Far North, 1689-1691 219
5 Last Years, 1692-1694 329
Notes on the Commentators 417
Glossary 427
Selected Bibliography for Further Reading 431
Index of Basho's Hokku in English 435
Index of Basho's Hokku in Japanese 443
Index of Names 451
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)