Essentially Oriental: R. H. Blyth Selection

First published in Woodnotes #23, Winter 1994, page 49.

Essentially Oriental: R. H. Blyth Selection, edited by Kuniyoshi Munakata and Michael Guest. Hokuseido Press, 1994, 326 pages, 6 by 8¼ inches. $32.95 paperback, $47.95 hardback plus $2.00 postage from Book East, P.O. Box 11387, Portland, Oregon 97211 [address no longer correct], or order through your local bookstore. Much like the British Haiku Society’s The Genius of Haiku, Essentially Oriental is a new book (by Blyth’s original publisher) that compiles selections of Blyth’s many writings. Choice material appears in three sections: “Eastern Humour,” “Zen,” and “Haiku.” As a consequence, its scope is broader than The Genius of Haiku, yet still contains a great deal of interest to haiku poets. It is more professionally designed and thus more readable than the BHS book, yet both books should prove essential to anyone interested in Blyth’s life and his unparalleled contributions to haiku scholarship. Both books contain photographs of Blyth.