Essays in Idleness

Essays in Idleness : The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko

3.89 (940 ratings by Goodreads)
Translated by 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days
When will my order arrive?


Despite the turbulent times in which he lived, the Buddhist priest Kenko met the world with a measured eye. As Emperor Go-Daigo fended off a challenge from the usurping Hojo family, and Japan stood at the brink of a dark political era, Kenko held fast to his Buddhist beliefs and took refuge in the pleasures of solitude. Written between 1330 and 1332, Essays in Idleness reflects the congenial priest's thoughts on a variety of subjects. His brief writings, some no more than a few sentences long and ranging in focus from politics and ethics to nature and mythology, mark the crystallization of a distinct Japanese principle: that beauty is to be celebrated, though it will ultimately perish. Through his appreciation of the world around him and his keen understanding of historical events, Kenko conveys the essence of Buddhist philosophy and its subtle teachings for all readers. Insisting on the uncertainty of this world, Kenk? asks that we waste no time in following the way of Buddha. In this fresh edition, Donald Keene's critically acclaimed translation is joined by a new preface, in which Keene himself looks back at the ripples created by Kenk?'s musings, especially for modern readers.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 235 pages
  • 127 x 221 x 15.24mm | 285.76g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • With a New Preface
  • 0231112556
  • 9780231112550
  • 279,087

Table of contents

Preface to the Second Paperback Edition Foreword, by William Theodore de Bary Preface Introduction Essays in Idleness Selected Bibliography Index
show more

Review quote

A most delightful book, and one that has served as a model of Japanese style and taste since the seventeenth century. These cameo-like vignettes reflect the importance of the little, fleeting futile things, and each essay is Kenko himself. Asian Student If you enjoy things briefly told, if you want to try the prose equivalent of waka and haiku, if you already know Montaigne and would like to meet a spiritual kinsman, then you might want to take an evening and read Essays in Idleness... [A] superb translation. Washington Post A sensitive, personal reading. Journal of Asian Studies The Tsurezuregusa is a key instrument in attempting to teach the classical Japanese tradition to the modern Western student... This is indeed a welcome volume. Monumenta Nipponica
show more

About Donald Keene

Donald Keene is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University. He is the author of more than thirty books, including So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers; Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan; Frog in the Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan, 1793-1841; and Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, as well as a definitive multivolume history of Japanese literature.
show more

Rating details

940 ratings
3.89 out of 5 stars
5 32% (298)
4 35% (333)
3 25% (233)
2 7% (62)
1 1% (14)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X