Kenko

A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees
  • A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees

  • 'It is a most wonderful comfort to sit alone beneath a lamp, book spread before you, and commune with someone from the past whom you have never met...'

    Moonlight, sake, spring blossom, idle moments, a woman's hair - these exquisite reflections on life's fleeting pleasures by a thirteenth-century Japanese monk are delicately attuned to nature and the senses.

    Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions.

    Yoshida Kenko (c. 1283-1352). Kenko's work is included in Penguin Classics in Essays in Idleness and Hojoki.

Kenkô was born around 1283 in Kyoto. He probably became a monk in his late twenties, and was also noted as a calligrapher. Today he is remembered for his wise and witty aphorisms, 'Essays in Idleness'. Chômei was born into a family of Shinto priests in around 1155, at at time when the stable world of the court was rapidly breaking up. He became an important though minor poet of his day, and at the age of fifty, withdrew from the world to become a tonsured monk. He died in around 1216. Meredith McKinney is a translator of Japanese literature, both contemporary and classical. She lived in Japan for twenty years and is currently a visitng fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra.

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