Matsuo Basho (1644-94) is considered Japan's greatest haiku poet. Narrow Road to the Interior (Oku no Hosomichi) is his masterpiece. Ostensibly a chronological account of the poet's five-month journey in 1689 into the deep country north and west of the old capital, Edo, the work is in fact artful and carefully sculpted, rich in literary and Zen allusion and filled with great insights and vital rhythms. In Basho's Narrow Road: Spring and Autumn Passages, poet and translator Hiroaki Sato presents the complete work in English and examines the threads of history, geography, philosophy, and literature that are woven into Basho's exposition. He details in particular the extent to which Basho relied on the community of writers with whom he traveled and joined in linked verse (renga) poetry sessions, an example of which, A Farewell Gift to Sora, is included in this volume. In explaining how and why Basho made the literary choices he did, Sato shows how the poet was able to transform his passing observations into words that resonate across time and culture.
|Publisher:||Stone Bridge Press|
|Series:||Rock Spring Collection of Japanese Literature Series|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Hiroaki Sato is one of the leading translators of Japanese poetry into English, with numerous books and awards. Emi Suzuki works in illustrations and CD graphic design.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Basho's Narrow Road: Spring and Autumn Passages based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
This one of the many versions of "Narrow Road" is interesting because it also includes the renga sequence "Farewell Gift to Sora."
This is a translation of Basho's "Narrow Road to a Far Province". Basho recounts his journey through Japan with his companion Sora. The tale is told in prose form with haiku interspersed throughout, in a form called haibun. They encounter and stay with people along the way, from monks to merchants to prostitutes. They join in renga sessions and visit various uta-makura, "poetic places" -- places which are mentioned in traditional poetry.Sato's version is an excellent translation. The language has a natural simple beauty and strikes one as being very faithful to the original. His version is much more the scholar's reference, with extensive and interesting footnotes, romaji versions of all the haiku, excerpts from numerous renga composed during the journey, and a complete and annotated renga at the end called "A Farewell Gift to Sora" which was composed during the trip when Sora had to separate from Basho and go on ahead because of an illness.
This is a classic which everyone should read. It is shorter than many European novels, but leads the reader into new ways of seeing the landscape around them. The poetry is wonderful. But then Basho is the master of Haiku.