“Much has been said of the aesthetic values of chanoyu- the love of the subdued and austere- most commonly characterized by the term, wabi. Wabi originally suggested an atmosphere of desolation, both in the sense of solitariness and in the sense of the poverty of things. In the long history of various Japanese arts, the sense of wabi gradually came to take on a positive meaning to be recognized for its profound religious sense. …the related term, sabi,… It was mid-winter, and the water’s surface was covered with the withered leaves of the of the lotuses. Suddenly I realized that the flowers had not simply dried up, but that they embodied, in their decomposition, the fullness of life that would emerge again in their natural beauty.”
― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book Of Tea
That a nation should construct one of its most resonant national ceremonies round a cup of tea will surely strike a chord of sympathy with at least some readers of this review. To many foreigners, nothing is so quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony–more properly, “the way of tea”–with its austerity, its extravagantly minimalist stylization, and its concentration of extreme subtleties of meaning into the simplest of actions. The Book of Tea is something of a curiosity: written in English by a Japanese scholar (and issued here in bilingual form), it was first published in 1906, in the wake of the naval victory over Russia with which Japan asserted its rapidly acquired status as a world-class military power. It was a peak moment of Westernization within Japan. Clearly, behind the publication was an agenda, or at least a mission to explain. Around its account of the ceremony, The Book of Tea folds an explication of the philosophy, first Taoist, later Zen Buddhist, that informs its oblique celebration of simplicity and directness–what Okakura calls, in a telling phrase, “moral geometry.” And the ceremony itself? Its greatest practitioners have always been philosophers, but also artists, connoisseurs, collectors, gardeners, calligraphers, gourmets, flower arrangers. The greatest of them, Sen Rikyu, left a teasingly, maddeningly simple set of rules:
Make a delicious bowl of tea; lay the charcoal so that it heats the water; arrange the flowers as they are in the field; in summer suggest coolness; in winter, warmth; do everything ahead of time; prepare for rain; and give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
This is the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her family, which includes her parents and her four sisters. Living in England in the early 1800′s, the focus of young women was on who they were to be compatible with and subsequently marry. In the story of this family, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have no male heir to their estate. Subsequently, their home and wealth is slated to go to a cousin, Mr. Collins upon Mr. Bennet’s death. As such, it is seemingly more important to Mrs. Bennet than other mothers to marry off her five daughters as soon as possible to ensure that they are cared for in the event of Mr. Bennet’s passing.
The story of Pride & Prejudice starts when a handsome and wealthy man, Mr. Bingley, comes to rent an estate not far from The Bennet Family’s. As he takes possession of this fine rental, the families in the surrounding area buzz with excitement and anticipation that this fine gentleman will choose one of their daughters as a bride. Mrs. Bennet is no exception. At a ball, Elizabeth’s older and beautiful sister, Jane, becomes the object of Mr. Bingley’s affections. It is also at this ball that Elizabeth (“Lizzy”) overhears a handsome stranger, Mr. Darcy, state that she is not “handsome” enough to be considered for a dance with him at the ball. Mr. Darcy is a very wealthy, handsome, and brooding stranger whom Lizzy will soon not be able to avoid.
This story takes readers from the time of that ball until well over a year later. During such time, The Bennet family is faced with an issue of family honor when their daughter Lydia runs off with a handsome, however untrustworthy military man, Mr. Wickman. In addition, Mr. Collins makes an attempt to marry into the family to find himself a suitable wife. Thankfully, The Bennet Daughters are spared despite Mrs. Bennet’s urging to accept his long-winded proposal. However, the most important story within this novel is the love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. The reader observes her initial disdain for him grow into an irresistible love that she can not deny.
Review by anovelmenagerie.com
Many of you who live here in North western NC have seen these books in local bookstores. I am a huge history buff, and am especially interested in local history. whenever I visit a new town I try and learn as much as I can about the history of the area the culture, people, natives etc.
My friend Donna Akers does an excellent job at bringing local history to life in each of her books available here http://donnaakers.wordpress.com/buy-books. Her books are also available on Amazon.com.
A gifted writer, you will thoroughly enjoy her style of writing and fabulous historical photographs. I HIGHLY recommend these books!