DAISHI- SAN by Robert Lund


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A first person narrative, based on the remarkable life of Will Adams, a seaman-adventurer in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Adams was the son of a British tenant farmer and a fiercely Puritanical mother. His exotic story bears the modest and reserved tones of his origins. Apprenticed as a boy to a great ship builder, he was nearly expelled for an early love affair, but returned and later captained a merchant vessel through the dangerous Mediterranean. When war finally broke out between Spain and England, Adams joined Drake, against the Armada, saw the break-up of the great fleet, and grieved over the Queen's post-war neglect of the English sailors. His marriage with the lovely, impractical cousin of a rich family had also begun to sour. Leaving England temporarily, he began trade voyages to Constantinople, where he begot another family with a Greek slave girl, Procopia. This dual life ended forever when he joined a disastrous Dutch merchant exploration to Japan. All ships were wrecked; 24 out of 496 men were washed shore. Adams, at first threatened with death, was held prisoner. He learned the language and customs and taught his own knowledge to the great shogun, Iycyasu, so successfully that he was not allowed to return home with the others. He spent the rest of his life in Japan as Daish the teacher, Iycyasu's friend and advisor. He saw the growing distrust of Europeans that finally led to Lycyasu's son's decision to dri all foreigners from Japan. At fifty two, he married a Japanese girl, and had two children and great happiness, before Japan's changing temper swept even Daishi-san into dishonor and death. The book, supposedly written on his deathbed, is retrospective, like a rather formal diary in tone.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1961
Publisher: John Day