All of us at Tuttle Publishing were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Yoel Hoffmann. Hoffmann was an Israeli author, translator, and professor who wrote numerous books on Buddhism and comparative philosophy.
He was a scholar of Zen Buddhism, having spent time studying with monks in a Zen monastery, and his expertise in Japanese poetry led to his compilation of hundreds of poems for his book Japanese Death Poems (Tuttle, 1986). The 2018 edition of this book in particular has seen a recent surge of interest thanks to thought leaders like Tim Ferriss, who called it “a phenomenal window into an aspect of Japanese culture that I had no exposure to.” It is a wonderful work worthy of all the attention it has received.
Hoffmann’s translator Peter Cole had this to say: “Word wafted in from Bangkok, from New York, from Tel Aviv: the sprite-like diviner of Hebrew had passed on, into the space between the lines of his matchless prose. Reading Yoel for the first time--and each time after that was a first time again--lifted me into a cloud of unknowing… His work created in me precisely the sort of attention required to enter it, which is maybe why I found it so magical.”
Yoel Hoffmann was 89. Our thoughts go out to all who loved and admired him — may his memory be a blessing.