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Haiku, the short Japanese poem now proliferating overseas, scarcely needs an introduction anymore. Its three great pillars, widely read even in translation, are the poets Matsuo Basho (1641-1694), its first creator, then Yosa Buson (1716-1784) and Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), who renewed it.

By the mid-19th century, it was a dying form, and it might have vanished if not for the efforts of one man, Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), the subject of this new biography by Donald Keene.

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