Issa and the Meaning of Animals

A Buddhist Poet's Perspective

a labor of love 30 years in the making

Issa and the Meaning of Animals cover

In the late 1700s, English-language writers began a long tradition of poems about animals, addressed to animals, even attributing speech to animals. In his new work, David Lanoue shows that the Japanese haiku-poet Issa, working at the same time, did this and more, all with immense ingenuity and sensitivity to other beings. It is a major contribution to our understanding of animals in literature. —Professor David Fraser, Animal Welfare Program, University of British Columbia

The poetry of Kobayashi Issa can coax readers toward an insight sorely needed in our time: animals are like people and deserve our care and compassion. Animals work like people, play like people, sing, dance, make love, start families, and participate in seasonal celebrations from New Year's Day to end-of-year drinking parties—as portrayed in the haiku of Issa. They can also, according to the Pure Land Buddhism to which Issa subscribed, attain enlightenment in a future life. Recognizing animals, as Issa does, as fellow travelers in a shared world is a first step toward their ethical treatment. 2014. 292 pages.

E-book ISBN-10 0991284038/ ISBN-13 978-0-99-12840-3-0

Paperback ISBN-10 099128402X/ ISBN-13 978-0-9912840-2-3

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