ROMANCE OF THE MILKY WAY & Other Studies and Stories - by Lafcadio HEARN
Japanese Poetry, Questions of Philosophy, Tales of the Supernatural, Anecdotes and Correspondence - how can one sum up this special book? - It is a compendium of Japanese thought, poetry and history and narrative, represented in the most eclectic and colorful way imaginable.
"What he tells us of Japan is perhaps not all of the important facts in a rigid chain of statistical data, but of the glimmering beauty that trembles incorporeally over the ordinary, like the scent of a flower, a part of it already freed from its bounds into boundlessness." Stefan Zweig
A Book of Wonder: This is a work that crosses the boundaries of poetry, philosophy, belles lettres, linguistic analysis and fiction. One hundred years after it was first written, it is just as fresh and exciting in its perspectives on Japan, its people and literature, their ways of life and myths. - More than anything else, though, it it a book that makes us reflect on the meaning of life, on the sense of mystery surrounding it. In the following words the author leads us into his sense of awe:
"A MEMORY of long ago. . . . I am walking upon a granite pavement that rings like iron, between buildings of granite bathed in the light of a cloudless noon. Shadows are short and sharp : there is no stir in the hot bright air; and the sound of my footsteps, strangely loud, is the only sound in the street . . . . Suddenly an odd feeling comes to me, with a sort of tingling shock, - a feeling, or suspicion, of universal illusion. The pavement, the bulks of hewn stone, the iron rails, and all things visible, are dreams! Light, color, form, weight, solidity - all sensed existences - are but phantoms of being, manifestations only of one infinite ghostliness for which the language of man has not any word."
Contents of Hearn's Work: This book includes the following Stories, Essays and Anecdotes -
The Romance of the Milky Way, Goblin Poetry, "Ultimate Questions", The Mirror Maiden, The Story of Ito Norisuké, Stranger than Fiction & A Letter from Japan.
Features of this Edition: The Introductory Essay 'Lafcadio Hearn' by Stefan Zweig (translated from the German by Edouard d'Araille); Textual Annotations - of great help in understanding the text; a Select Bibliography of the main works by Lafcadio Hearn; two Portraits of the author (one photograph, one stylized caricature).
An Extract from the Title Essay: "THE ROMANCE OF THE MILKY WAY - Among the many charming festivals celebrated by Old Japan, the most romantic was the festival of Tanabata-Sama, the Weaving-Lady of the Milky Way [. . .] . To understand the romance of this old festival, you must know the legend of those astral divinities to whom offerings used to be made, even by the Imperial Household, on the seventh day of the seventh month. The legend is Chinese. This is the Japanese popular version of it : -
The great god of the firmament had a lovely daughter, Tanabata-tsumé, who passed her days in weaving garments for her august parent. She re-joiced in her work, and thought that there was no greater pleasure than the pleasure of weaving. But one day, as she sat before her loom at the door of her heavenly dwelling, she saw a handsome peasant lad pass by leading an ox, and she fell in love with him. Her august father, divining her secret wish, gave her the youth for a husband. But the wedded lovers became too fond of each other, and neglected their duty to the god of the firmament; the sound of the shuttle was no longer heard, and the ox wandered, unheeded, over the plains of heaven. Therefore the great god was displeased, and he separated the pair. They were sentenced to live thereafter apart, with the Celestial River between them; but it was permitted them to see each other once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh moon. On that night - providing the skies be clear - the birds of heaven make, with their bodies and wings, a bridge over the stream; and by means of that bridge the lovers can meet".
A truly one-of-a-kind book that resonates in your mind for months and years after reading it.