SOLD - Haiku : Volume 1 Eastern Culture; Volume 2 Spring; Volume 3 Summer-Autumn; Volume 4 Autumn-Winter. - R. H. Blyth 1970 to 1971 - The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo - 20th, 13th, 14th, & 12th editions ‘Mountains and rivers, the whole earth, –
All manifest forth the essence of being’

A lovely set of this four volume work on the origins and spirit of Japanese
haiku, complete and fine in beautifully illustrated dust jackets. Tipped in the last page of each volume is the publisher’s sheet with date of printing, Blyth’s hanko (ink stamp), bookseller’s plate and other details, which are normally missing.

Blyth is best known as a major interpreter of haiku to English speakers. These four volumes, first published from 1949 to 1952, helped introduce haiku to the post World War II world, and his translations and writings on the subject were a crucial impetus in triggering the creation of haiku outside of Japan. Many contemporary Western writers of haiku were introduced to the genre through his works. These include the San Francisco and Beat Generation writers, such as Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and Allen Ginsberg, as well as J.D. Salinger.

Each volume with numerous full page black and white and colour illustrations. Volume 4 with a fold-out graph depicting the evolution of English and Japanese literature, at rear. Many
haiku in Blyth’s translation are presented alongside their original Japanese characters.
  Reginald Horace Blyth [1898-1964] was an Englishman who lived in Japan. Blyth was Professor of English at Gakushuin University, and tutored Crown Prince (later emperor) Akihito in English. He did much to popularise Zen philosophy and Japanese poetry (particularly haiku) in the West. In 1954, he was awarded a doctorate in literature from Tokyo University, and, in 1959, he received the Zuihōshō (Order of Merit) Fourth Grade.

Blyth produced a series of works on Zen,
haiku, senryū, and on other forms of Japanese and Asian literature. In 1949, with this publication in Japan of the first volume of Haiku, the four-volume work by Blyth, haiku were introduced to the post-war world.

Robert Aitken:
Remembering Blyth Sensei, 'Tricycle', Spring 1998, Volume 7, Number 3.
Reginald Horace Blyth (1898-1964) 'was born near London in 1898, the only child of working-class parents. By the start of World War I, he was eighteen and already an eccentric in his contemporaries eyes: he ate no meat, loved George Bernard Shaw, and became a conscientious objector to the war, for which he was jailed. After serving a three-year sentence of hard labour and fed up with the rigidity of Britain's class system, he left his homeland for what he thought would be a life of wandering. But after just a year of traveling, Blyth was smitten by Asia. He settled in Korea in the mid-1920s, and began teaching English at Seoul University. He returned to England briefly to complete a BA in English literature in order to further his Korean teaching career. Back in Seoul, Blyth met a monk from Kyoto's Myoshin-ji temple, the traditional headquarters of the Rinzai Zen sect in Japan. The meeting was auspicious, inspiring Blyth to take up the study of Japanese and to begin Zen practice at the Seoul branch temple; within weeks, he had moved into the temple to become the disciple of the resident Zen master, Kayama Taigi. In 1940, Blyth moved to Japan and remained there for the rest of his life, despite being interned as an enemy alien during World War II. He married a Japanese woman and supported their two daughters working as a teacher (he even tutored the Crown Prince of Japan) and began a prolific writing and translating career. For Blyth, almost anything could be interpreted as an example of Zen, including the Western literary canon. He expounded his theories in 'Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics' (1942), 'Japanese Humour' (1957), and the four-volume 'Haiku' (1949-52), and through those books, spurring a generation of Westerners to investigate Zen and Japanese culture. Blyth died in 1964 of a brain tumour'.

Four octavo volumes (book size 13.8 x 18.6 cm). pp. [6] xviii 422 [2]; [6] v [1] iv [2] 382; [6] xv [1] 443 [1]; [6] xli [5] 396. Publisher’s woven beige cloth, lettering and Japanese characters stamped in black to upper covers and spines, illustrated endpapers, publisher’s slips inserted at rear and priced ¥1,200; ¥1,000; ¥1,200; and, ¥1,000 respectively. In original dust jackets without price (as published), first two volumes with small booksellers plate to inside front pastedown. Vol.1 title page not dated, 12th Printing, 1971 (First Edition 1949); Vol.2 title page not dated, 13th Printing, 1970 (First Edition 1950); Vol.3 title page not dated , 14th Printing, 1971 (First Edition 1952); Vol. 4 title page dated 1952, 12th Printing, 1970 (First Edition 1952).
  Condition: Fine in very good dust jackets, panels lightly rubbed, sunning to spines of first three volumes not affecting text, spine ends and corners with some wear, head of spine on first volume with 3cm closed tear, and on last volume with some small holes affecting title.   Ref: 109371   Price: HK$ 0