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A Haiku Journey: Bashos Narrow Road to a Far Province (Illustrated Japanese Classics) [Paperback]

By Matsuo Basho & Dorothy Britton (Translator)
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Item description for A Haiku Journey: Bashos Narrow Road to a Far Province (Illustrated Japanese Classics) by Matsuo Basho & Dorothy Britton...

In the seventeenth century, the pilgrim-poet Basho undertook on foot a difficult and perilous journey to the remote northeastern provinces of Honshu, Japan's main island. Throughout the five-month journey, the master of haiku kept a record of his impressions in a prose-poetry diary later called The Narrow Road to a Far Province. His diary was to become one of the classics of Japanese literature.
Noted professor of Japanese literature J. Thomas Rimer wrote of this classic: "In his diary, which Basho kept reworking and revising until his death, he mixed fact, fiction, poetry, and prose to create the record of a journey that moves both geographically and spiritually, one strand mixing with the other on virtually every page. Read and reread with care, The Narrow Road to a Far Province can reveal more qualities still basic to Japanese cultural attitudes than perhaps any other work in the whole canon of classical literature. For once, the highest of reputations is truly deserved."
This new edition is illustrated with sumi-e ink sketches by Japanese artist Shiro Tsujimura.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   124
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.5"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2002
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  477002858X  
ISBN13  9784770028587  

Availability  0 units.

More About Matsuo Basho & Dorothy Britton

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Matsuo Basho was born in 1644 and died in 1694.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Japanese & Haiku

Reviews - What do customers think about A Haiku Journey: Bashos Narrow Road to a Far Province (Illustrated Japanese Classics)?

Nice volume, but not the best translation  Mar 24, 2007
Although Ms. Bitton's translations of Basho's prose are not far off from other versions of this title, many have complained of the rhyming scheme she employs when translating the haiku verses of the author's most famous work. I do agree, that these translations are somewhat jarring and just a little cumbersome (especially if one has knowledge of other translations of this haibun). But Bitton's effort was devoted to making the verses more accessible to Western readers accustomed to the perceived elegance of the rhyme in popular Western poetry. This, one may argue, is the job of a translator, and thus is not an all too terrible introduction to "The Narrow Road," especially for younger readers. However, if one truly wishes to enjoy this, one of Japan greatest literary volumes, please seek other versions as well. The difficult art of translation is in itself a fascinating study.
Can Haiku Be Translatable?  Sep 19, 2004
We can find Basho almost everywhere in Japan. My hometown is close to the Tokaido-highway and easy to find stone monuments with Basho's haiku inscribed in it.

Dorothy Britton did fine job in the mission-impossible task of
translating Basho haiku into palpable English. I am not well versed in poetry so I do not know how great her translation is with respect to literal viewpoint. She created the method by which peculiarly styled Japanese poem is converted into that of rhyme based western poem. Her English translation is easy to understand so it could be enjoyed by huge number of people not limited to those highly educated. As a Japanese who usually reads this essay in archaic Japanese of 17th century, her translation is instrumental in understanding what difficult Japanese words mean.

As far as Haiku translation goes English language has huge disadvantages.
1: Deletion of subject is difficult while in old Japanese it is really common.
2: Phonetically Japanese and English is so different. For example, in Japanese, common English words such as STRIKE is
pronounced SU-TO-RIE-KU. In Englsih one syllabled but in Japanese phonetics it requires four syllables.

So as syllable based translation. Basho's haiku will be translated rather explanatory than its original Japanese form.

In conclusion, I think she did a great job as a translator and her translation quite natural. No wonder Kodansha International adopted her translation for Japanese English learners.

Recommended for wide range of Japanese culture appreciators.

Don't buy this one!  Jan 7, 2004
There are several different translations of Basho's Narrow Road extant and without doubt this is the worst generally available. Dorothy Britten's translations of both the text and verse cloy terribly, and betray her shallow understanding of the form. Her translations of some of Basho's best haiku rhyme, which should be enough to put anyone off.

If you want to buy a translation of this wonderful work, I recommend a different Kodansha publication -- the edition featuring Masayuki Miyata's breathtaking illustrations and Donald Keene's somewhat academic but still vastly superior translations. Don't buy this one!

This translation is laughable!  Nov 19, 2003
This is the worst translation of Basho that I have ever seen. She makes all the haiku rhyme!!! Ugh! I suppose in Lady Bouchier's idle mind that's how poetry should appear.

Here's a quote: "Life itself is a journey; and as for those who spend their days upon the waters in ships and those who grow old leading horses, their very home is the open road."

Now compare that to Sam Hamill's translation: "A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."

This book is embarrassing. Don't buy it.


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