Synopses & Reviews
Zen and the art of tea-the classic book about the Japanese tea ceremony that is as much a guide to life.
Ritualized, romantic, and historically rich, the tea ceremony is the creation of something beautiful out of the everyday. Originally written in English more than a hundred years ago to be read aloud at Isabella Stewart Gardner's famous salon, The Book of Tea presents the meeting of East and West in a teacup. It explores Asian culture through the history and aestheticism-or "teaism"-of the tea ceremony and also suggests a deep connection between beauty and war, and between flowers and social mores. In its formality, attention to detail, and celebration of beauty and harmony, the tea ceremony encapsulates the Japanese view of life-in fact, the art of life.
Zen and the art of tea-the classic book about the Japanese tea ceremony that is as much a guide to life
For a generation adjusting painfully to the demands of a modern industrial and commercial society, Asia came to represent an alternative vision of the good life: aesthetically austere, socially aristocratic, and imbued with spirituality. The Book of Tea was originally written in English and sought to address the inchoate yearnings of disaffected Westerners. In a flash of inspiration, Okakura saw that the formal tea party as practiced in New England was a distant cousin of the Japanese tea ceremony, and that East and West had thus "met in the tea-cup."
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
About the Author
(1862-1913) was a founder of the first Japanese fine arts academy, the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. He came to America in 1904, and in 1910 became the first head of the Asian art division at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Christopher Benfey is Mellon Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College and a critic for The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, and The New York Review of Books.