On Matsuo Bashō, Haiku’s Greatest Master
From The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
In addition to being what is probably the most widely used poetic form, haiku is almost certainly the most often misunderstood. In this episode, Jacke examines the life and works of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694), haiku’s greatest master, as he sorts through his thoughts on the uses (and potential misuses) of the haiku form. What makes much of it so bad? And how does that differ from what is truly great?