More reading: The Samurai’s Garden

Plane travel (which, overall, stinks) affords the chance to read. Next in my book queue is Howard Goldowsky’s Engaging Pieces, but first I wanted to finish The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama.

You might correctly infer that I started it some while ago. It’s a slow read. In a way, not much happens. (Okay, Japan invades China, but that’s mostly off-camera.) Or maybe more properly, much happens but it’s as though you are watching through a thin piece of silk, which seems to mute the sharpness of the events.

In fact (it dawned on me late in the process) reading it is much like sitting in the Samurai’s garden, both requiring and imposing a certain patience, a tranquility of the mind.

Sneaky.

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2 thoughts on “More reading: The Samurai’s Garden

  1. Have you read Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji?

    Back in my Japanology, cum inches from Fulbright to Japan but just not quite, days, Seidensticker’s translation was the best, better than Sino-Japan scholar Arthor Waley’s version.

    I took it with me to the temple in Korea, after Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and of course, Sophecles transl. by the great Dudly Fitts both in New York as preparation, then was able to stop reading for a good while, thereafter, metabolizing my own brain, instead….

    The other big one is Tusre Tsure Guza, or the Harvest of Leisure, of as I recall, translated by Keene, was it.

    Thirdly, Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North, Hoku… I forget the rest of the Japanese there… :

    “Like a clam firmly cemented inside it’s shell
    I bid thee goodbye,
    and Autumn too.”
    Basho

  2. David – great stuff. I will be on the lookout.

    Samurai’s Garden starts with this, attributed to Ryota:

    No one spoke,
    The host, the guests,
    The white chrysanthemums.

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