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Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
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Musashi (original 1935; edition 1984)

by Eiji Yoshikawa, Charles Terry (Translator)

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8581310,412 (4.35)36
Member:SkuldOMG
Title:Musashi
Authors:Eiji Yoshikawa
Other authors:Charles Terry (Translator)
Info:Kodansha USA (2012), Hardcover, 984 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:adventure, japan, historical fiction

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Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa (1935)

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Instant classic.

After I finished reading the book, I was wondering if 970 pages were enough to tell Musashi's tale. In spite of the well-fitting ending, I must say that I wouldn't complain if there was more of the story. Musashi's saga is told with lots of details, but still kept very quick to read. And it tells not only of his own story, but also the story of the people who had their lives affected by him, for good or for worse.

Unlike several other books I read before, the chapters do not end "in the best part" so that the reader gets curious and the story lasts longer. In each chapter (and in each of the books within this book) a story begins and ends, so you won't get caught in anxiety to see what's about to happen with any of the characters.

One thing that I absolutely loved in this book: the description of several aspects of the Japanese culture. I only missed a tea cerimony description, but other than this, all the main characteristics of Japan post-Sekigahara war were vividly described.

Highly recommended! ( )
  aryadeschain | Aug 26, 2014 |
Avrei tanto voluto dare il punteggio massimo a Musashi, ma alla lunga le sfide e i combattimenti risultano un po' ripetitivi, ma ho incontrato personaggi meravigliosi, paesaggi maestosi e ho intravisto le tracce di una tradizione pressoché aliena.. È stato un bel viaggio! ( )
  Manua | Apr 10, 2014 |
La burrascosa vita di Musashi è dipinta in maniera sublime da Yoshikawa Eiji. Il romanzo, originariamente pubblicato a episodi sul quotidiano giapponese Asahi Shinbun tra il 1935 e il 1939, narra le gesta di questo famoso guerriero dalla sua giovinezza sino alla piena maturità.
Stile scorrevole, storie accattivanti, azione, amore sofferto: in questo libro c'è di tutto e questo tutto è scritto talmente bene che, nonostante si tratti di quasi 850 pagine, leggere non costa alcuna fatica, anzi. Un libro consigliatissimo.Da questa opera è stata anche tratta la serie manga "Vagabond" di Inoue Takehiko. ( )
  Tonari | May 19, 2013 |
A very weighty historical novel about samurai. I thought I'd like this a lot more than I did. I might try again later. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
I first learned about Eiji Yoshikawa’s epic historical novel Musashi while looking for a translation of Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. The group of people I was asking for recommendations insisted that I give Yoshikawa’s fictionalization of Musashi’s life a try as well. Yoshikawa’s envisioning of Musashi has been the inspiration for a large number of samurai films and is the basis for Takahiko Inoue’s manga series Vagabond. Musashi was originally serialized in Japan between 1935 and 1939. The English translation by Charles S. Terry was published by Kodansha International in 1981. The book doesn’t indicate it anywhere, but apparently the English edition is actually an abridgement. The original is nearly four thousand pages long. However, the English translation’s nine hundred seventy pages of relatively small print is not really anything to scoff at, either.

Much of Yoshikawa’s Musashi is based on historical reality and while they are fictionalized (and it is important to remember that), many of the events and people portrayed actually existed. Musashi is one of Japan’s most notable and recognizable swordsmen. Musashi begins with the aftermath of the Battle of Sekigahara in which a young Musashi, then known as Takezō, fought and managed to survive. It ends with one of Musashi’s most famous duels as he faces the highly skilled Sasaki Kojirō. In between, the novel traces his efforts to develop his own style of swordsmanship, resulting in the foundation of his innovative two sword technique. At the same time, Japanese society is undergoing great change as the Tokugawa shogunate more firmly establishes its control over the country.

Although the novel’s title is simply Musashi, the cast of characters is quite large. In addition to Musashi, the tale also follows those who seek to be close to him, his peers and rivals, friends, adversaries, and mentors. Many of the encounters between these people seem to happen by chance or fate, and sometimes the coincidences are a bit much, but it does make for a good story. For the most part, the characters grow and change as the novel progresses. Some of the changes happen suddenly while others develop more naturally over time. Musashi, too, is a significantly different person by the end of the book than he is when it first begins. He may be a legendary swordsman, but in Musashi he is shown to be completely human as well. He, like all the other characters, makes mistakes and stupid decisions, but he is shown to be willing to learn from them.

The pacing of Musashi is much more leisurely than one might expect for a novel about a man striving to better himself by following the Way of the Sword. Although Musashi is constantly training and is involved in many cinematic duels and battles, most of the book is of a quieter, more philosophical bent. Musashi brings what he learns from everyday life to his swordsmanship and in return applies the Way of the Sword to his way of life, believing the two are one and the same. Some might feel the novel drags on, and its length is certainly felt even in abridged form, but I was actually quite happy with it. I would like to read the novel in its entirety, but Terry’s translation and abridgement is excellent. While it occasionally feels slightly disjointed, overall the narrative flows very nicely. However, the ending comes abruptly. In some ways this lends to the creation of the myth and legend of Musashi, but it still seemed very sudden to me. Regardless, I am very glad I took the time needed to read and experience Yoshikawa’s Musashi.

Experiments in Manga ( )
2 vote PhoenixTerran | Apr 20, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eiji Yoshikawaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Terry, Charles S.Translatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karlsson, SuneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reischauer, Edwin O.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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""E depois de tudo, céu e terra aí estão, como se nada tivesse acontecido. A esta altura, a vida e as ações de um homem têm o peso de uma folha seca no meio da ventania... Ora, que vá tudo para o inferno!", pensou Takezo."
Takezō lay among the corpses. There were thousands of them.
Quotations
That's what's extraordinary about him. He's not content with relying on whatever natural gifts he may have. Knowing he's ordinary, he's always trying to improve himself. No one appreciates the agonizing effort he's had to make. Now that his years of training have yielded such spectacular results, everybody's talking about his 'god-given talent.' That's how men who don't try very hard comfort themselves.
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L'intégralité de la série est parue sous la forme de sept livres nommés : Terre, Eau, Feu, Vent, Ciel, Soleil et Lune, La parfaite Lumière.
La Pierre et le Sabre est le nom du premier tome de l'édition francophone regroupant les quatre premiers livres.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0068598513, Hardcover)

When a Zen priest saves Musashi after the Battle of Sekigahara and confines him in solitude to train and discipline his mind and spirit, Musashi attempts to become the greatest samurai in Japan.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:44 -0400)

Musashi Miyamoto fights in 1600 for the losing side of the battle at Sekigahara when the Tokugawa Shogunate begins its reign.This epic recounts the life and times of medieval Japan's greatest swordsman--a man who began life as an over-eager lout but turned himself into a master of his chosen weapon. But his life was spent not only in training to perfect the art of killing, but also in a quest to conquer himself. Unable to settle down, Musashi embarks on the life of a ronin (masterless samurai) as he wends his way through the feudal world of medieval Japan in his search for perfection. In the process he finds a young woman who loves him and many enemies who seek his destruction, including the most feared swordsman of all. The book teems with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety and dedication to the Way of the Samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely.… (more)

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