When The Sound of One Hand Clapping came out in Japan in 1916 it caused a scandal. Zen was a secretive practice; that a handbook existed recording t only the riddling koans that are central to Zen teaching but also detailing the answers to them seemed to mark Zen as rote, t revelatory. Certainly the nameless Zen renegade who smuggled the book out to the world was bent on exposing the monasteries of his day as factories for making monks rather than centers of No-Mind. A century later, things look very different. The Sound of One Hand Clapping, which includes koans that go back to to the master who first brought the koan-teaching method from Japan to China in the eighteenth century, offers, in the words of the translator Yoel Hoffmann, the clearest, most detailed, and most correct picture of Zen that can be found. What we have here is an extraordinary introduction to Zen thought as lived thought, a treasury of problems, paradoxes, and performance that will appeal to artists, writers, and philosophers as well as Buddhists and students of religion. Hoffmann offers an extensive commentary that elucidates the philosophical and psychological context of the koans. His fellow velist Dror Burstein offers a new introduction that responds to the multiplying questions with which this strange and marvellous book abounds.
Yoel Hoffmann is an author, editor, scholar, and translator widely regarded as Israel's leading writer of avant-garde fiction. As a young man, Hoffmann spent two years living in a Zen monastery in Japan studying Chinese and Japanese texts. Hoffmann has been awarded The Koret Jewish Book Award, the Bialik Prize, and the Prime Minister's Prize. He is Professor Emeritus of Eastern Studies at the University of Haifa and lives in Galilee. Dror Burstein is a scholar, curator, and writer. He has been awarded the Jerusalem Prize for Literature, and his most recent novel, Sun's Sister, won the Prime Minister's Prize and the Goldberg Prize. He teaches at Tel Aviv University.