ZEN AND ZEN CLASSICS: Selections from R. H. Blyth by Frederick--Ed. Franck

ZEN AND ZEN CLASSICS: Selections from R. H. Blyth

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The voluminous writings of R. H. Blyth have long enjoyed a devoted, but limited, following. This was due in part to his being published in Japan, where he lived and wrote and finally died. The situation is now being rectified somewhat with the publication of this book, which has been thoughtfully culled from the five-volume Zen and Zen Classics. To review Blyth is not really possible; he is a speculative philosopher of a mystical bent who draws chiefly on poetry, Zen and Western interchangeably. He is a drunkard, intoxicated with the life-blood of the muse. He is unpredictable, except insomuch as he is consistently witty, consistently responsive to nature and aesthetic experience, consistently a source of fresh insight. He is not interested in Zen as a Japanese cultural phenomenon, or in its Western transplants. Those who treasure these things may still treasure Blyth, though he makes it clear that his Zen utterly transcends its trappings. Reading him, like reading Blake or Thoreau, revitalizes our senses: red becomes redder, bitter becomes bitterer. One may call this magic Zen, as Blyth did, but it is by no means the product of a fixed time or place, and so his work cannot be categorized. It may instead be applauded, with both hands clapping.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1978
Publisher: Random House