One of the greatest joys for me as an editor at Shambhala Publications is when I work on books by people I have long admired. This was most definitely the case when Shambhala had the good fortune to become William Scott Wilson’s publisher several years ago. I first encountered his work when I was a young martial arts student; his translation of Takuan Soho’s The Unfettered Mind was a revelation. When, many years later, I began to correspond with him and then actually met him, I was star struck.
Bill Wilson is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture—most famously the best-selling Hagakure—as well as other classical texts from Zen and Taoism, and the author of three books. His gift as a translator is not only his erudition and his skillful expression; it’s that his love of the subject matter pervades his writing and fills the reader up with that joy and inspiration. The samurai ethos at its very highest level was marked by the quest for self-realization and spiritual attainment, and Bill’s translations make that concept palpable. He also is a great storyteller—in person and in his writings—and that gift shines though in the introductions and notes to his translations, and in his original books.
A few of Bill’s translations were also used to create a series of graphic novels that we publish—and I’ve noted this in the descriptions below. They are a great way to enhance your understanding of the classic texts—or to introduce them to a young reader.
Bill is a warm and delightful person, and a complete joy to work with, and I am so pleased to be able to show off his works in this blog. Enjoy!
—Beth Frankl, editor