On The Royal Road: with Hiroshige on the Tōkaidō by James Bell (Shearman Books)

Tears in the Fence

James Bell (1950–2021) passed away just a few months after submitting the manuscript of this collection to Shearsman Books. Some of his poems from the collection had already appeared inShearsmanmagazine, and the editor, Tony Frazer, eventually decided to publish Bell’s work together with the pictures of the woodblock prints from Hiroshige’s second Tōkaidō series. The poems are ekphrases that correspond to the pictures of the 53 stations that the artist drew after he had completed the journey from Edo (modern Tokyo) to Kyoto in 1832. He made sketches along the way which were later developed into successful prints that established his reputation. The first series ofThe Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidōwas so popular that Hiroshige published 30 more different interpretations of the Tōkaidō during his lifetime in both vertical and horizontal shapes. It was a long-lasting exploration of the highway with its commonplaces and its sense…

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