Author Topic: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings  (Read 4164 times)

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Offline Griffith

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Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« on: September 14, 2007, 09:38:29 AM »
http://www.amazon.com/Miyamoto-Musashi-His-Life-Writings/dp/1590300459

Fantastic book on the Historical Musashi, including comparisons of the different accounts of his life, his myth, as well as his own writings.

Offline Walter

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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2007, 12:33:48 PM »
I bought it on Griff's recommendation and wasn't disappointed. Something the book doesn't advertise well is that in addition to all the biographical information, it contains a new translation of Book of Five Rings. So if you haven't read that, this is probably the best deal of the century.

The author really takes the time to brush off legends and exaggerations time and the fictional assessment the 1930s novel garnered Musashi, and present as close to an accurate portrayal of the man as possible. For me, it's like the third tome of Musashi, next to Yoshikawa's novel and Inoue's manga, since each present different, yet undeniably similar personas of the same man.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Sparnage

Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2007, 12:45:29 PM »
How does it differ from Yoshikawa's Musashi? More realistic I'm guessing for one.

Offline Walter

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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2007, 01:02:13 PM »
How does it differ from Yoshikawa's Musashi? More realistic I'm guessing for one.
The main difference would be this is largely a biography and Yoshikawa's novel is ... well, a fictional work based on research and legends/rumors of the man. I think my post above described pretty well what the biography offered - a historically accurate portrayal.
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Offline Griffith

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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2007, 09:07:37 PM »
Yeah, they're totally different genres and experiences. This is a history book, while Musashi is purely fiction based on a historical figure.

This examines Musashi as a real human being having to survive in a real world, the good and the bad based on different historical accounts (which it also examines and suggests which is more likely given the facts of the time), so there won't be anything about Otsu, Matahatchi, or Musashi fighting 70 men at once, but stuff about him maybe being manipulated into assassinating Sasaki Kojiro for political reasons, and conflicting reports of the duel, such as the participation of Musashi's disciples. This obviously opens up alternative as to why he and his life changed so much after that duel, and speaking of which, this book actually covers events and details of his life after his duel with Kojiro until his death, including his ambitions, his adopted sons, as well as the proliferation of his style.

It's refreshingly objective as well (and it'll address the sort of Musashi mythos that exists, starting with Yoshikawa's Musashi), and the while the author certainly respects Musashi and his legacy, he focuses more on the facts and less on Musashi's greatness; also, while he expresses which accounts and theories make most sense to him, he never pushes it so hard that it becomes unreasonable, and you're free to disagree with his point of view or simply take a wider stance.

Offline Walter

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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2007, 10:20:35 PM »
It's refreshingly objective as well ... while he expresses which accounts and theories make most sense to him, he never pushes it so hard that it becomes unreasonable, and you're free to disagree with his point of view or simply take a wider stance.
That's certainly the highest road to take in these instances, but the guy almost seems apologetic when he strikes onto a good point  :guts:

I wonder if Inoue used reference books like these to formulate his own iteration of Musashi.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Sparnage

Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2007, 09:46:03 AM »
I think I would appreciate this more than Yoshikawa's version. From what I read about him on wiki and such they don't have much to go by about him, so I presume much of it would still have to be speculation.


Offline Griffith

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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2007, 06:56:31 PM »
I think I would appreciate this more than Yoshikawa's version. From what I read about him on wiki and such they don't have much to go by about him, so I presume much of it would still have to be speculation.

Well, it's not simply a different version of Musashi's life as opposed to the one depicted by Yoshikawa; that was a work of fiction and this is a non-fiction book detailing and analyzing different historical accounts of Musashi. While it's true that there isn't an overabundance of credible sources to begin with, this is a heavily researched book, the section on his life alone is about 130 pages, including a lot of information you're not going to find otherwise outside of first hand sources (let alone wikipedia).
Seriously, is it to the point now where we judge BOOKS against wikipedia and not the other way around? :void: :idea:

Offline Griffith

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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2009, 07:33:00 PM »
I think it should be reiterated what an amazing resource and companion this is to Yoshikawa's Musashi and, even more so, to Inoue's Vagabond. Plus, it's an interesting read and fine place to start in any case, it's surprisingly easy to read through, and because it's sectional, you're free to skip around rather than read it in order. My favorite bits are the historical accounts of Musashi, and I enjoy these translations of his own writing because their purpose is historical context, not some modern interpretation or agenda like "the way of strategy for the business warrior" or something.

Offline Walter

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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2009, 08:43:09 PM »
Awkwardly, I think I actually read these things in backwards order. 1) Vagabond 2) Life and Writings 3) Book of 5 Rings and finally, 4) Musashi (novel).  :???:

That being said, I should probably read through this again to put everything in context. It's also been several years since the last time, and I need incentive to revitalize my Musashi love.
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Re: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2009, 08:18:03 AM »
I should read them all again as well, there's also another one, an annotated Book of Five Rings called A Way to Victory that I've been meaning to take a look at.