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Essays in Idleness - and Hojoki

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Essays in Idleness - and Hojoki

Meredith McKinney

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‘If our life did not fade and vanish like the dews of Adashino’s graves or the drifting smoke from Toribe’s burning grounds, but lingered on for ever, how little the world would move us. It is the ephemeral nature of things that makes them wonderful.’ These two works on life’s fleeting pleasures are by Buddhist monks from medieval Japan, but each shows a different world-view. In the short memoir Hojoki, Chomei recounts his decision to withdraw from worldly affairs and live as a hermit in a tiny hut in the mountains, contemplating the impermanence of existence. Kenko, however, displays a fascination with more earthy matters in his collection of anecdotes, advice and observations. From ribald stories of drunken monks to aching nostalgia for the fading traditions of the Japanese court, Essays in Idleness ranges across the spectrum of human experience. Translated with an introduction and notes by Meredith McKinney

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