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Shibumi is a novel, whose plot takes place at the end of the 1970s, details the deadly struggle between a secret organization, which intends to exploit and rule the planet Earth - and a man, a kind of modern samurai, who, just as he thought he was about to reach the state of shibumi (or shibui) is compelled to take arms again, and to stand for the values of friendship and honour. Elaborately written, using a very extended vocabulary, based on a sound knowledge in history and geopolitics, switching easily from pessimism to wry humor, Shibumi is more than a mere thriller, and may be compared to other works such as Brave New World & Nineteen Eighty-Four dealing with dystopia. Shibumi means many things, one of them being ‘one must move through knowledge and arrive at refined/elegant simplicity’.
Nicholai's imagination was galvanized by the concept of shibumi. No other ideal had ever touched him so. “How does one achieve this shibumi, sir?”
“One does not achieve it, one . . . discovers it. And only a few men of infinite refinement ever do that. Men like my friend Otake-san.”
“Meaning that one must learn a great deal to arrive at shibumi?”
“Meaning, rather, that one must pass through knowledge and arrive at simplicity.”
-- Zhenbumi 77 by Trevanian. Published by The Ballantine Books, New York. Copyright © 1979