A NOTE TO
THE READER |
[Foreword in the
of "Beautiful Losers]
Thank you for coming to this book. It is an honor, and a surprise, to have
the frenzied thoughts of my youth expressed in Chinese characters. I
sincerely appreciate the efforts of the translator and the publishers in
bringing this curious work to your attention. I hope you will find it useful
When I was young, my friends and I read and admired the old Chinese poets.
Our ideas of love and friendship, of wine and distance, of poetry itself,
were much affected by those ancient songs. Much later, during the years when
I practiced as a Zen monk under the guidance of my teacher Kyozan Joshu
Roshi, the thrilling sermons of Lin Chi (Rinzai) were studied every day. So
you can understand, Dear Reader, how privileged I feel to be able to graze,
even for a moment, and with such meager credentials, on the outskirts of your
This is a difficult book, even in English, if it is taken too seriously. May
I suggest that you skip over the parts you don't like? Dip into it here and
there. Perhaps there will be a passage, or even a page, that resonates with
your curiosity. After a while, if you are sufficiently bored or unemployed,
you may want to read it from cover to cover. In any case, I thank you for
your interest in this odd collection of jazz riffs, pop-art jokes, religious
kitsch and muffled prayer æ an interest which indicates, to my thinking, a
rather reckless, though very touching, generosity on your part.
Beautiful Losers was written outside, on a table set among the rocks, weeds
and daisies, behind my house on Hydra, an island in the Aegean Sea. I lived
there many years ago. It was a blazing hot summer. I never covered my head.
What you have in your hands is more of a sunstroke than a book.
Dear Reader, please forgive me if I have wasted your time.
Los Angeles, February 27, 2000
* * *
Copyright © 2000, 2006 by Leonard Cohen.
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.