Thursday, September 27, 2007

Archive Series: Locus #10/STL #53

Title: Basho's Narrow Road

I recently compared 4 versions of Basho's Oku-no-hosomichi, a text composed between 1690-94, recounting 1689 journey into Japan's Northern Interior. The best title in English is I think Narrow Road to the Interior, though I've seen Narrow Path to the Deep North, Back Roads to Small Towns, and other translations. My favortie translation is probably's Sam Hamill's, which incorporates sufficient reference on the allusions into the text and balances literal meaning and poetic affect in he haiku translations. (The text is haibun, a combination of prose and poetry. I also like Guy Davenport's interpellation of scenes from the travelogue into his own story, 57 View of Mt. Fuji. Many of the episodes he chose to incorporate turned out to be my favorites as well, which led me to capture 11 moments from Oko-no-hosomichi, only cheating once.

1. The opening (Chapter 1 in the Corman edition)
2. "Joe Buddha" (5)
3. Meeting Sora (7)
4. Guides (the horse and the broad shouldered mountain guide)(8, 32)
5. The famous pine trees (24)
6. 3 generations (30)
7. Fleas and lice (31)
8. The geisha and the monks (41)
9. Sora falls ill (46)
10. Hurriedly leaving the temple (47)
11. The sixth finger on the hand (57)