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P r e f a c e “You know, Bashō is almost too appealing.” I remember this remark, made quietly, offhand, during a graduate seminar on haiku poetry. I’m not sure the other student even noticed the comment, but it spoke volumes not only about the scholar, but about Bashō’s impact on Japanese culture and now our own. It was about one hundred years ago that Bashō became known in the West through the translations of Basil Hill Chamberlain and, more importantly, the influence on the poet Ezra Pound. That influence expanded in midcentury, with R. H. Blyth’s voluminous and high quality translations of haiku and the surge of American interest in Japanese culture following World War II. The last fifty years has seen increasing interest in Bashō among scholars, poets, nature writers, and environmental philosophers. In this translation of Bashō’s haiku and the accompanying volume, Bashō’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Bashō, I offer a collection of his poetry and prose that I hope will help extend that interest and his influence even further. It has been decades in the making, with a numerous people who have impacted it in a variety of ways. Professor Lee Yearley first introduced me to East Asian culture, the study of religion, and the intellectual life. Poets Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder intensified my interest while enriching my perspective. Professors Edwin Good and Susan Matisoff were instrumental to my graduate work on Bashō, as was Makoto Ueda, whose scholarship on Bashōhas been extraordinarily important. Friends Scott, Jerry, Phil, Zack, and Bill helped ensure the trip would be a long and strange one. My wife, enduring my solitary character and ix obsessive work, has been a true companion along the way. Guilford College provided a nourishing environment for someone dedicated to interdisciplinary approaches to learning. And I am grateful to Nancy Ellegate and the State University of New York Press for their support of this project. x P r e f a c e ...


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