London: The Folio Society Ltd, 1958. Item #04666
With Eight Fine Full-Page Woodcut Illustrations by Mark Severin
SAIKAKU, Ihara. SEVERIN, Mark, illustrator. Five Japanese Love Stories (Koshoku Gonin Onna). Translated into English by William Theodore de Bary. Wood Engravings by Mark Severin. London: The Folio Society, 1958.
Octavo (8 x 5 1/2 inches; 204 x 140 mm.). 159, [1, blank] pp. Title-page printed in black and red. With eight full-page woodcut illustrations by Mark Severin.
Publsher's green silk cloth over boards, spine lettered in gilt, pictorial end-papers printed in red. Spine a little darkened otherwise a fine copy in the publisher's maroon card slipcase.
The five stories included here are: The Story of Seijuro in Himeji; The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love; What the Seasons Brought the Almanac-Maker; The Greengrocer's Daughter with a Bundle of Love; and Gengobei, the Mountain of Love.
Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693) was a Japanese poet and creator of the "floating world" genre of Japanese prose. Born as Hirayama T go, the son of a wealthy merchant in Osaka, he first studied haikai poetry under Matsunaga Teitoku and later studied under Nishiyama S in of the Danrin school of poetry, which emphasized comic linked verse. Scholars have described numerous extraordinary feats of solo haikai composition at one sitting; most famously, over the course of a single day and night in 1677, Saikaku is reported to have composed at least 16,000 haikai stanzas, with some sources placing the number at over 23,500 stanzas.
Mark Severin (1906-1987) has been described as one of the most outstanding engravers of his generation, Severin specialised in fine miniature work, including postage stamps and book illustrations. He made close to five hundred bookplates, of which a great number are on erotic subjects. He was also active as an advertisement designer in Great Britain, including posters for Imperial Airways and the London Underground.