Monday, March 14, 2011

Bushido (by Inazo O. Nitobe)

As you probably know, I'm doing an English EE, half of it on Japan (technically a Japanese book, but why quibble of semantics?) So, part of the books I borrow at the library are about Japan/Japanese culture/Japanese Literature.

So far, I've read The Golden Country, which is like a prequel (in the form of a play) to the book I'm doing. It provides really interesting context, but I don't think it's going to be of much use.

Similarly, Bushido explains the context a lot, but I'm not too sure whether it's applicable for my EE. It's a really fascinating read though.

According to the book I have, Bushido was published in 1900, and surprisingly, is written in English. It's said to be so popular that an American president (Nixon I think), bought multiple copies to give to his friends. I have to add though, that one of the criticisms about it is that it supposedly 'Christianises' Bushido (which, of course, is the direct opposite of the premise of Silence). That's probably because Nitobe-san, who wrote the book, was a devout Quaker, which to me, is really cool.

The book itself is quite short, but broken up into engaging chapters. Not being a scholar of Japanese studies (not even a pseudo-scholar I'm afraid), I really can't comment on the accuracy of the book. But what I can say, is that it lucidly explains Bushido to a laymen like me. And since it's written in English, you don't need to keep worrying about translation problems.

Definitely worth reading, after all, old is gold.

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