Vogisland's Reviews > Narrow Road to the Interior: And Other Writings

Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Bashō
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's review
Feb 07, 12

bookshelves: poetry
Read from January 28 to February 07, 2012

I read this and Nobuyuki Yuasa's translation together. Hamill offers four travelogues and over 250 selected haiku, while Yuasa adds the brief "Visit to Kashima Shrine". Neither version is bilingual, and it seems like a major oversight not to include at least romaji alongside each haiku (Hamill's version does add romaji to the selected haiku). I preferred Hamill's introduction. Yuasa provided more detailed endnotes.

Ultimately, I preferred the moodiness of Yuasa's prose sections, in spite of his bizarre decision to translate the haiku as four-line stanzas. Hamill's translation is drier and perhaps more literal. I found it helpful to read both. The picture that emerges of Basho is a bit different from what I was expecting. In some ways he reminds me more of Emerson or Thoreau than of Ryokan or even Saigyo. Seems like a "definitive" version has yet to be published.

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