Interesting story that is a voyage into Japan and its culture and myths. Very revealing. A quick read that brought me to the end of the book when I would have preferred it lasted a little longer. Pairs with The Verdict of Hades as peculiar books I enjoyed. Well deserved.
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My Favorite Telling of the 47 Ronin Story7 janvier 2013
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Format: Format Kindle
I first went to Sengakuji Temple (the burial site of the 47 Ronin) about 20 years ago, just as a tourist thing and not knowing the background of the temple or the story of the 47 Ronin. I was inexplicably moved by the visit, and found a copy of John Allyn's book at an English-language bookstore in Tokyo. I instantly loved the story and Allyn's telling of it.
The climatic event took place over 300 years ago and much of the details have been lost to history, but Allyn clearly has a solid grasp of traditional Japanese culture and history and fills in the holes believably and elegantly. Allyn's style is descriptive yet clear and very enjoyable. You get a immersive feeling of the period, but it never gets bogged down.
I was delighted to discover this book had finally come to Kindle. I have read several English-language books on the 47 Ronin over the past 20 years, but I consider this one to be the definitive telling of the tale. The story of the 47 Ronin is one of the most beloved in Japanese history, and for anyone with even a passing interest in it, this is a must-read.
110 internautes sur 122 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
The ultimate example of duty, honor and sacrifice19 mars 1998
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firstname.lastname@example.org from California, USA , 03/04/98, rating=10: Please accept my revised review which I have edited for errors. As a student of martial arts and Japanese history, I found this story, which is little known outside of Japan to be a most impressive example of the ideals of the elite warrior class of Japan known as Samurai. In Japanese, it is entitled "Chushingura" which translates as "Vengeance" The Forty-Seven Ronin Story probably ranks as one of my favorite books about history ( and I have read many). Unlike other historical situations where men were faced with death, these men had a choice between life and death and they chose death with honor. The warriors were driven by allegiance to their code of chivalry known as "Bushido" which emphasizes a fanatical loyalty to their lord, tempered by the serenity and wisdom of Confucianism and Buddhism. The book provides fascinating insight into the feudal system known as "bakufu" under the Tokugawa shogunate and the influences of Confucianism and Buddhism on Japanese society. While it may be fictionalized or embellished in places, the book is based on a true incident which occurred in 1701. The loyal retainers of Lord Asano were given the choice of a free life with a loss of reputation suffered when their lord was wrongly forced to commit seppuku. Instead, the men chose to seek vengeance and restore honor to their clan. The loss of face caused by the death of their lord was more than they could endure and the men sought revenge after a two year facade of drunkeness, unruly behavior and poverty. Ultimately, the corrupt court official responsible for Lord Asano's death was beheaded by the loyal retainers and the men dutifully paid their respects at Lord Asano's grave before turning themselves in for court martial. All forty-seven men were given the privilege of committing seppuku, for which they were grateful since imprisonment or execution was considered disgraceful. The loyal retainers were buried with their lord at a temple called Sengaku-ji which is located just outside of the city of Tokyo. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture, history or martial arts. It is one of the most impressive examples of men who refuse to compromise their honor or integrity at any cost..
54 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
central to understanding Japan3 juin 2001
Orrin C. Judd
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John Allyn here presents for English language audiences one of the most oft-told episodes in Japanese history. In March 1701, Lord Asano of Ako, having been summoned before the Shogun in Edo (modern Tokyo), was provoked into attacking a corrupt official, Kira, the Shogun's Master of Ceremonies. Asano was forced to commit seppuku, ritual suicide, and his lands were forfeit. His death left his samurai masterless, or ronin , but when they learned that Kira had survived his wounds they determined to avenge Asano, following the Confucian edict that : [N]o man may live under the same sky with the murderer of his lord. After biding their time until Kira was in an exposed position--no longer protected by the Shogun's forces--forty seven of Asano's former samurai attacked his castle (December 14, 1702) and killed him, despite the almost certain death their actions were likely to bring : [S]ome people live all their lives without knowing which path is right. They're buffeted by this wind or that and never really know where they're going. That's largely the fate of the commoners--those who have no choice over their destiny. For those of us born as samurai, life is something else. We know the path of duty and we follow it without question. Their action proved so popular that the Shogun allowed the forty seven to commit seppuku rather than be executed as criminals. Their gravesite, at Sengaku-ji Temple, remains a national shrine; the story is a staple of Japanese theater under the title Chushingura; and there are several film versions, including one which was used as WWII propaganda by the government. In Allyn's capable retelling, the story is brisk and thrilling, with a minimum of extraneous philosophizing or psychoanalyzing. The action, though terrible, takes on a logic of its own, as the ronin seek to redeem their master and preserve their own obligations of honor, loyalty, and duty. The tale and its continuing resonance reveals much that is admirable, but also unfortunate, about the Japanese character. You can't help but admire the devotion with which they adhere to their moral code, but at the same time there is something chilling about the automatic, unthinking nature of their actions and the degree to which they are influenced by external factors, like how others will judge them, rather than by internal ethical considerations. Most disturbing though is the question of whether this loyalty is a one way street, or whether the masters would be similarly willing to sacrifice themselves for their underlings, and whether each samurai would so sacrifice himself for a mere comrade. Obedience, particularly blind obedience, be it to a man or to a code of conduct, is a very dangerous trait for any culture to glorify, both because it absolves the obedient of moral responsibility and because it stifles innovative thought. The same qualities which seem so laudable here and which have made Japan a homogenous, orderly, productive, and nonlitigious society, have also made it susceptible to authoritarian government, overt and covert racism, industrial cronyism, economic stagnation, and have contributed to a culture that is simply not very creative and tends to be too inflexible for its own good. As a pure novel of adventure, the book is terrific and the insight the story provides into the Japanese character is invaluable. Both the book and two movie versions of the story, 47 Ronin and Chushingura, are well worth tracking down. GRADE : A-
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Japan's National Tale of Honor and Revenge28 juillet 2000
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The story of the 47 ronin is THE national story of Japan and the key to understanding Nihon Kokoro, the japanese mind. Just as the United States has the legend of the Alamo, Japan has the story of the 47 Ronin. The popularity of the story comes from the fact that the heroes had become an ideal. They embody all that a Nihonjin, a Japanese person strives to be. It also illustrates the cultural chasm between the asian cultures and western cultures regarding duty, honor and death (the japanese consider seppuku a very honorable way to die). The heroic warriors were offered a chance to live, but in a solemn and dramatic ceremony, each man, in turn, knelt down and ran his thumb over the blade of a razor sharp Katana (sword blade)in order to draw blood. One by one, they then impressed their thumbprint on a document swearing loyalty to the end to Asano, Lord of Ako. More than three hundred fifty men in all executed the blood oath, and forty-seven would avenge him. The Ronin were buried next to their Lord and his wife on the grounds of a buddhist temple, a site of ritual pilgramige to this day. A must read for anyone studying martial arts, this book is the key to understanding the spirit and the drive of the Japanese people.
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47 reasons to spend a weekend afternoon20 décembre 2013
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The legend of the 47 Ronin was meant to be a true story in Japanese history. The basic story was that Kira, a courtier of the Tokugawa Shogun, goaded a `daimyo' Lord Asano, into attacking him. Kira was injured but not killed. The Shogun ordered Lord Asano to commit seppuku (Japanese suicide by disembowelment). Asano's chief retainer, Oishi, rallied the samurais under Lord Asano and plotted revenge for the unjust death of their lord. As in all legendary tales, the details become subject to embellishment and variation. The 2013 film release of the film by the same name might be captivating as a film but deviated from the Allyn book, which is the most recent English language edition of this tale.
Unlike the film, there are no witches and no romance involving the daughter of Lord Asano. There is also no character in the book representing the film hero `Kai', played by Keanu Reeves. The book is exciting and is difficult to put down once it is begun. The plot revolves around the way Oishi (the main figure in the book) organizes his samurai and the preparation over the 12 months after Lord Asano's death, to kill Kira and thus avenge his death. Every page is worth reading and one can learn about the Japanese notions of nobility of character, the wisdom of patience, and the virtues of steadfastness from the Allyn version of the legend. Allyn's fascinating account should not be diminished by a review giving too much away; but the reader should expect lots of encounters with spies and the clashing between youthful exuberance and aged wisdom. He should also not expect it to be anything like the film version.