Showing posts with label Japanese Literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese Literature. Show all posts

Natsume Sōseki

pseudonym of Natsume Kinnosuke (born Feb. 9, 1867, Edo [now Tokyo], Japan—died Dec. 9, 1916, Tokyo), outstanding Japanese novelist of the Meiji period and the first to ably depict the plight of the alienated modern Japanese intellectual.
Natsume took a degree in English from the University of Tokyo (1893) and taught in the provinces until 1900, when he went to England on a government scholarship. In 1903 he became lecturer in English at the University of Tokyo. His reputation was made with two very successful comic novels, Wagahai-wa neko de aru (1905–06; I Am a Cat) and Botchan (1906; Botchan: Master Darling). Both satirize contemporary philistines and intellectual mountebanks. His third book, Kusamakura (1906; The Three-Cornered World), is a lyrical tour de force about a painter’s sojourn in a remote village.

After 1907, when he gave up teaching to devote himself to writing, he produced his more characteristic works, which were sombre without exception. They deal with man’s effort to escape from loneliness. His typical heroes are well-educated middle-class men who have betrayed, or who have been betrayed by, someone close to them and through guilt or disillusionment have cut themselves off from other men. In Kōjin (1912–13; The Wayfarer) the hero is driven to near madness by his sense of isolation; in Kokoro (1914) the hero kills himself; and in Mon (1910; “The Gate”) the hero’s inability to gain entrance to the gate of a Zen temple to seek religious solace is a frightening symbol of frustration, isolation, and helplessness. Natsume’s last novel, Michikusa (1915; Grass on the Wayside), was autobiographical.

Natsume claimed that he owed little to the native literary tradition. Yet, for all their modernity, his novels have a delicate lyricism that is uniquely Japanese. It was through Natsume that the modern realistic novel, which had essentially been a foreign literary genre, took root in Japan.

  •  Botchan  ( i  love  this  book . One book was enough to be charmed by Soseki's sarcasm and humor.)

other works 
I Am a Cat 
The Tower of London
The Three Cornered World
The Heredity of Taste
The 210th Day
The Poppy
The Miner
Ten Nights of Dreams
And Then Mon
The Gate
Spring Miscellany 
Made To the Spring Equinox and Beyond
The Wayfarer
My Individualism
My Glass Doors
Light and Darkness, a novel

Matsuo Basho

                            For More Information >

(1644 - 1694)

Basho (bah-shoh), pseudonym of Matsuo Munefusa (1644-94), Japanese poet, considered the finest writer of Japanese haiku during the formative years of the genre. Born into a samurai family prominent among nobility, Basho rejected that world and became a wanderer, studying Zen, history, and classical Chinese poetry, living in apparently blissful poverty under a modest patronage and from donations by his many students. From 1667 he lived in Edo (now Tokyo), where he began to compose haiku.
The structure of his haiku reflects the simplicity of his meditative life. When he felt the need for solitude, he withdrew to his basho-an, a hut made of plantain leaves (basho)- hence his pseudonym. Basho infused a mystical quality into much of his verse and attempted to express universal themes through simple natural images, from the harvest moon to the fleas in his cottage. Basho brought to haiku "the Way of Elegance" (fuga-no-michi), deepened its Zen influence, and approached poetry itself as a way of life (kado, the way of poetry) in the belief that poetry could be a source of enlightenment. "Achieve enlightenment, then return to this world of ordinary humanity," he advised. And, "Do not follow in the footsteps of the old masters, but seek what they sought." His "way of elegance" did not include the mere trappings associated with elegance; he sought the authentic vision of "the ancients." His attention to the natural world transformed this verse form from a frivolous social pastime into a major genre of Japanese poetry.
In the last ten years of his life Basho made several journeys, drawing from them more images to inspire his contemplative poetry. He also collaborated with local poets on the linked-verse forms known as renga. In addition to being the supreme artist of haiku and renga, Basho wrote haibun, brief prose-and-poetry travelogues such as Oku-no-hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Far North; 1689; Eng. trans., 1974), that are absolutely nonpareil in the literature of the world.

  • At Nano in Noto Province
    It’s hard to live through a wintertime.
    A man, infirm
    With age, slowly sucks a fish bone.

  • Sick on my journey,
    only my dreams will wander
    these desolate moors

  • Don't imitate me;
    it's as boring
    as the two halves of a melon.

Yosa Buson

(1716 - 1784 )A "Haiku" poet and painter of the middle Edo period who was born in Settsu (now Osaka city). Having been an excellent painter since his childhood, he became successful in the field of "Bunjin-ga" (literati paintings, which were originally paintings produced by literati as a hobby). This genre later became identified with "Nanshu-ga" a style of painting established by the output of two major Chinese landscape painting schools that was introduced into Japan in the mid-Edo period. In the meantime, at the age of about 20 he set out for Edo (the old name of Tokyo) where he studied "haikai" under Hayano Hajin in Nihonbashi..
He urged the revival of "Sho-fu" (The Authentic Style, i.e. the traditional and elegant form of "haiku" composition) and established his own style that celebrated sensuous and romantic nature. Although he is regarded as an emulator of Matsuo Basho, his poetry is closely influenced by his experience as a painter. He is also known as a founder of "Hai-ga", one of the Japanese pictorial art forms consisting of paintings in watercolor or black and white featuring some "haiku" verses or passages that were designed to create refined impressions of the tastes of educated commoners of the period.
Buson's "hokku", are different from Basho's, they do not present a philosophy, nor do they announce with emphatic gestures although his wording is impressively refined in an unprecedented manner. It may be said of Yosa Buson that he had such genius that in describing just one peaceful scene he can inspire us to feel that eternity expands beyond the landscape's horizons. He authored the books "Shin-hanatsumi" (New Florilegium) and "Tamamoshu".

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The short night
Below are eleven Buson haiku
beginning with the phrase
'The short night--'

The short night--
on the hairy caterpillar
beads of dew.

The short night--
washing in the river.

The short night--
bubbles of crab froth
among the river reeds.

The short night--
a broom thrown away
on the beach.

The short night--
the Oi River
has sunk two feet.

The short night--
on the outskirts of the village
a small shop opening.

The short night--
broken, in the shallows,
a crescent moon.

The short night--
the peony
has opened.

The short night--
waves beating in,
an abandoned fire.

The short night--
near the pillow
a screen turning silver.

The short night--
shallow footprints
on the beach at Yui.

fish the cormorants haven't caught
swimming in the shallows.

A bat flits
in moonlight
above the plum blossoms.

Old well,
a fish leaps--
dark sound.

Yasunari Kawabata

At the beginning of my learning Japanese language, I was determined to reach an advanced level that would allow me to read Yasunari Kawabata's novels in Japanese.(2003 i  was  little  stupid  girl :D). Till this moment, I had reconciled myself to reading Kawabata's books translated into English.
             In 1968, Kawabata (1899 - 1972) became the first Japanese to receive the Nobel Prize of Literature. Basically, Kawabata's novels center around sad love affairs. They are poetic and slow flow of events where the ending is not that important. Snow Country , for instance, gives the impression of unfinished story. His writings were described haiku in prose since the style lays between poetry and narration.

Author of books:
Izu no Odoriko (The Izu Dancer and Other Stories) (1927)
Asakusa Kurenaidan (The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa) (1930)
Yukiguni (Snow Country) (1948)
Meijin (The Masters of Go) (1951)
Sembazuru (A Thousand Cranes) (1952)
Yama no Oto (The Sound of the Mountain) (1954)
Mizuumi (The Lake) (1954)
Nemureru Bijo (The House of Sleeping Virgins) (1960)
Koto (The Old Capital) (1962)
Utsukushisa to Kanashimi (Beauty and Sadness) (1964)
Kataude (One Arm) (1964)
Tanpopo (Dandelion) (1974, published posthumously)
Palm-of-the-Hand Stories (1988, collected short stories, published posthumously)
First Snow on Fuji (2000, collected short stories, published posthumously)

Hagiwara Sakutaro

(1886-1942)  For More Information >


At dawn's light, the skies were lit pale,
On the window, the imprint of fingers, cold,
The mountain's edge, whitish-turning, stood
Like quicksilver, placidly still and yet,
Travellers slept undisturbed;
Only the jaded lamps' jarring sighs,
Even the sweet shellacky smell,
And so too, the vaguely tobacco-like fumes
Tested a sore tongue on the night train;
But how long are the married wife's complaints to continue?
Yamashina1 has yet to pass by,
So she undoes the air-cushion's plug a wee,
To watch it vent: such are the ways of women-kind.
Then man and wife snuggled up a-sudden,
And stared out the car window by the dawn,
Where on a mountain village, whereabouts unknown,
So whitely bloomed the columbine  flowers.
ON JOURNEYI'd like to be off to France,
But France is so frightfully far,
At the least though, I'll pick out a brand new suit,
And mount on a trip carefree.
When the train starts up the overpass,
I'll lean on the azure window
And think happy thoughts alone,
This May day at dawn,
Leaving it all to the new-grass-sprouting heart.


The still life, deep down, enranges,
But on the surface it grieves.
At the windowside greenery are a cool
Reflexions on the white-eyed vessel.


A new path is being routed here,
A direct access to town.
At the crossing I stand,
But failed to master the deserted horizons of all four directions,
And gloom ruled the day,
For as the sun dipped below the eaves,
The coppice had been felled to sparsity.
This mustn't be, This mustn't be! I churn my mind.
This road, I shall revolt and refuse to take,
Where the fresh new trees are all being felled.

Aerial Strangulation

On a far night, the glinting pine needles
Accepted lettings of remorseful tears.
On a far night, the skies were frosty-white,
The lofty pine clutched the hanging noose.
Love made descent on the lofty pine,
He was suspended in the posture of prayer.