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Makoto Ueda, Ph.D. (1962) in Comparative Literature, University of Washington, is Professor Emeritus of Japanese at Stanford University. His many publication include Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women (2003) and The Path of Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buso (1998).
This book is *the* essential book on Issa for English readers, and for Japanese who read English as well. Debunking a great deal of the myth (some of which Issa seems directly responsible for), this book gives a straightforward overview of the poet's life and the development of his haiku. Showing that although he did indeed have a difficult childhood and youth, Issa gained serious recognition and financial security in his middle years, even returning to his childhood home as a modestly comfortable landowner. It also takes up the forces bearing on his development as a poet, including the haiku hierarchy of his time and the effects of this and of religion and personal tragedy late in life on his changing poetics. The plentiful translations, of haiku, a complete linked poem, and a number of short prose pieces, are well done and worth the price of admission.
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