Sample Essay

Bashō had also been meditating for a number of years, gravitating towards Zen Buddhism and there was certainly an element of religiosity to the persona that he created for this book.  It is not, however, a monk’s quest for Nirvana.  In his earlier travelogues, he had written that he saw himself as someone leaning onto the staff of an ancient, entering into nothingness, and yet he considered himself neither a monk nor a man of the world, but perhaps a bat – somewhere in between a bird and a mouse.  It was this state of betwixt that fascinated him, as he saw himself and those around him more and more as eternal wayfarers and not men and women of a certain occupation.  It was the culmination of his realization that every day was a journey, and the journey itself the home.

Since Bashō saw the book less and less as his own travelogue, while editing and re-editing the final manuscript, he did not feel constrained to present things factually – as they were, and not as they may have been – artistic liberties that become more and more apparent when we compare the details contained in Oku no Hosomichi against those set out in Sora’s more factual travel diary.  This, however, does not diminish the timeless quality of the book’s text, encapsulating its author’s rare insights into all life.

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