Essays in Idleness

The Tsurezuregusa of Kenkō, With a New Preface

Translated by Donald Keene

Columbia University Press

Essays in Idleness

Pub Date: May 1998

ISBN: 9780231112550

235 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: May 1998

ISBN: 9780231518949

235 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Essays in Idleness

The Tsurezuregusa of Kenkō, With a New Preface

Translated by Donald Keene

Columbia University Press

Despite the turbulent times in which he lived, the Buddhist priest Kenkō met the world with a measured eye. As Emperor Go-Daigo fended off a challenge from the usurping Hojo family, and Japan stood at the brink of a dark political era, Kenkō held fast to his Buddhist beliefs and took refuge in the pleasures of solitude. Written between 1330 and 1332, Essays in Idleness reflects the congenial priest's thoughts on a variety of subjects. His brief writings, some no more than a few sentences long and ranging in focus from politics and ethics to nature and mythology, mark the crystallization of a distinct Japanese principle: that beauty is to be celebrated, though it will ultimately perish. Through his appreciation of the world around him and his keen understanding of historical events, Kenkō conveys the essence of Buddhist philosophy and its subtle teachings for all readers. Insisting on the uncertainty of this world, Kenkō asks that we waste no time in following the way of Buddha.

In this fresh edition, Donald Keene's critically acclaimed translation is joined by a new preface, in which Keene himself looks back at the ripples created by Kenkō's musings, especially for modern readers.
A most delightful book, and one that has served as a model of Japanese style and taste since the seventeenth century. These cameo-like vignettes reflect the importance of the little, fleeting futile things, and each essay is Kenkō himself. Asian Student
If you enjoy things briefly told, if you want to try the prose equivalent of waka and haiku, if you already know Montaigne and would like to meet a spiritual kinsman, then you might want to take an evening and read Essays in Idleness.... [A] superb translation. Washington Post
A sensitive, personal reading. Journal of Asian Studies
The Tsurezuregusa is a key instrument in attempting to teach the classical Japanese tradition to the modern Western student.... This is indeed a welcome volume. Monumenta Nipponica
Preface to the Second Paperback Edition
Foreword, by William Theodore de Bary
Preface
Introduction
Essays in Idleness
Selected Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Donald Keene is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University. He is the author of more than thirty books, including So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers; Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan; Frog in the Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan, 1793-1841; and Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, as well as a definitive multivolume history of Japanese literature.