The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan Reprint Edition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520056220
ISBN-10: 0520056221
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (May 8, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520056221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520056220
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,030,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 20, 2002
This is a truly amazing study. I read it for a class I was taking on medieval Japan. The professor warned that this book was very dense and difficult to read, but I thought - No problem! It's under 200 pages, I'm a fast reader, I like the subject.
So let me restate: this book is a DENSE read. Every sentence has deep significance, and don't be surprised if you have to reread paragraphs several times, even if you're used to memorizing things with a once-over.
That said, this book was so good that it gets 5 stars despite the difficulty of reading it. LaFleur deftly weaves together strands from medieval forms of Japanese Buddhism (specifically Tendai and Shingon) during the Kamakura and Ashikaga bakufus with earlier cultural tendencies from Heian times right through to the flowering of new cultural ideas in Tokugawa Japan. He does not shy away from appreciating art or fine points of theology on their own terms, but also does not hesitate to show how the two blended together and shaped one another.
I personally enjoyed the sections on the Hojo-Ki by Chomei more than his sections on No and Kyogen, but that's personal preference. You will also gain a new understanding of major poets and monks of the era, such as Chomei, Basho, and Zeami. Rather than try and define such difficult concepts as yugen, he illustrates them through use of those individuals and their own efforts at definitions.
Read a chapter at a time or all at once, a great book.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Gorden on October 7, 1998
This book is good for both those with casual interest in Japanese culture and specific interests in the field of Buddhism. Special attention is paid to the relationship between religion and the traditional theatre forms of Noh and Kyogen.
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By toronto on July 11, 2013
This is one of William LaFleur's great books. Elegant, deep, full of extraordinary learning over a vast canvas. Opens up worlds of understanding.
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Verified Purchase
Whether you love Japan, poetry, or the philosophy of Buddhism - or all three - this book will delight you. Soberly written but full of the indescribable beauty of Japanese culture.
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