The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr


“[Higginson] quickly learned that Dickinson’s desire in composing poems resembled that of a scrupulous gardener cultivating new plants: she wanted them to be vital, symmetrical, well-established, and likely to survive.”

“Todd called the manuscripts ‘fascicles,’ a nineteenth-century synonym for bunches of flowers”

“The extent to which gardening was honored among nineteenth-century creative artists is illustrated  by the fact that a distraught, impoverished, but flower-loving Edgar A. Poe regularly weeded the cramped grounds of his Fordham cottage–his only wholesome entertainment while is teenage wife Virginia lay dying.”

some interesting information I found in Farr’s The Gardens of Emily Dickinson

Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki


“Ichimura is known as ‘puppet-town,’ and its theater goes back, one hardly knows how many centuries, to a certain court nobleman who was banished from Kyoto and came to live in Ichimura, and who in his boredom with country life took to making puppets and to manipulating them for his own amusement. The famous Aawaji Gennojo family descends from him, it is said.”

“With the heart of Kyoto changing so rapidly, one has to go to Wakayama, Sakai, Himeji, Nishinomiya, to find the old cities as they have always been.”

“A pure white bath or toilet is a piece of Western foolishness. It matters little, you may say, because no one is around to see, but a device that sets your own sewage out in front of your eyes is highly offensive to good taste. How much more proper to dispose of it modestly in as dark and out-of-the-way a corner as you can find.”

some quotes I enjoyed from Tanizaki’s Some Prefer Nettles

Dandelions by Yasunari Kawabata


“Can you imagine a baby being so adorable, so utterly adorable that you just keep staring and staring until it dissolves away, and you don’t see it anymore?” asked Kuno.

“To enter the Buddha world is easy; to enter the world of demons is difficult.” (Ikkyu)

“You used to feel sorry for the camellia blossoms when they dropped, so you would gather them up. Put them in envelopes, between the pages of a book. I never once saw you sweep the flowers up and throw them away.”

some quotes I loved from Dandelions, the unfinished novel by Kawabata

Château d’Argol by Julien Gracq

chateau dargol

“So many curious tastes enjoyed in common, ritualistic perversions of a language of their own, mutually taught, ideas fashioned by the repeated shock of their rapier-like minds, signals given by an inflection of the voice too often exchanged, a reference to a book, a melody, a name bringing with it a whole throng of common recollections, had in the end created between them a dangerous, intoxicating, vibratile atmosphere, dissipated and reborn by their contact like the withdrawal and approach of the plates of an electric condenser.”

“But in all this an initiated mind would see only a refinement of fate which lavished these treacherous consolations upon them just as wine is mixed with aromatic spices to fortify bodies under torture, in order to intensify the sharpness of fresh torments and make the victim feel to the full the excruciating bliss.”

some quotes I enjoyed from Château d’Argol by Gracq


An Illustrated Dictionary of Japanese Onomatopoeic Expressions by Taro Gomi

An Illustrated Dictionary of Japanese Onomatopoeic Expressions

“This dictionary covers only those expressions that are formed by repeating the same sound twice, such as ijiiji and appuappu. In Japanese such words are called kasanekotoba (repeated words).”

uja uja: Describes many small things gathered together and moving, such as a swarm of insects or a crowd of people seen from a distance.”

uzu uzu: Describes someone itching to do something”

gami gami: Describes someone nagging. Griping.”

gun gun: Describes something progressing or growing very rapidly.”

wan wan: Describes a dog’s bark. Bowwow. A child’s word for dog. *Incidentally, a cat mews nya nya, a cow moos mo mo, a pig oinks bu bu, a goat bleat me me, a crow caws ka ka, a sparrow tweets chun chun, and a frog croaks kero kero…”

some info I liked from Taro Gomi’s book on Japanese onomatopoeia 

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.”

“… and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

“Absorbed in the new life he was entering upon, intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, the scents and the sounds and the sunlight, he trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long waking dreams.”

some quotes I loved from The Wind in the Willows

Hiroshige: Masterworks of Ukiyo-e


“Hokusai and Hiroshige, who are generally held to be the greatest of the nineteenth century ukiyo-e artists, both died penniless. (Hiroshige’s will contains passages explaining in detail how the mortgage on his newly bought house should be paid off. Hokusai, toward the end of his life, wrote to his publisher asking for money, saying that he had not even enough clothes to keep himself warm.)”

“Unlike most ukiyo-e artists who came mostly from very humble origins, Hiroshige’s family was one of moderate respectability…” [Both he and his dad were fire wardens]

“In [Toyokuni’s] studio at that time were already such noted artists as Kunisada and Kuniyoshi, and had Hiroshige worked with them it is unlikely that he would have had the freedom to develop that he enjoyed under Toyohiro.”

some interesting info I found in the Hiroshige volume of the Masterworks of Ukiyo-e series

Pie: A Global History


“At that time [the eighteenth century] meals were served in the style that came to be called a la francaise (as distinct from the style we use today, service a la russe, in which individual dishes are served sequentially to guests). Two or more courses would each consist of a variety of dishes set out simultaneously on the table with geometric precision and an eye for symmetry.”

“There is one other historic fruit pie that deserves special mention: a pie made from an exotic, imported and therefore expensive fruit candied with expensive sugar. Orengeado is candied orange peel, and it was enormously popular from Elizabethan times until well into the eighteenth century.”

some interesting info I found in Pie: A Global History

May by Karel Hynek Mácha


“Until Macha, Czech poets and writers had privileged patriotism over aestheticism. And May is by no means a political or patriotic poem.”

“The Germanization of the Czech lands after the Hapsburg invasion of 1620 nearly destroyed Czech language and literature.. . It also exposed Czech nationalists to European intellectual and literary currents, which eventually allowed for a modernization of Czech verse. ”

“Macha also experimented with various degrees of onomatopoeia, setting the mood of a stanza through the sounds of the words, as when the prisoner’s chains thunder. He uses silence, as indicated by the long dash, as well as sound, as when the prisoner marks the passing of time with the sound of a water drop.”

“Like Vilem, Macha considered himself an outsider. He was preoccupied with questions of death and eternity, and he was obsessed with a woman of questionable honor. He also died young, just before his twenty-sixth birthday, on November 5, 1836.”

some interesting information from the introduction to May by Karel Macha