In an effort to create characters for my next novel, I’m reading a book on Bushido, the Japanese code of chivalry. The book is: Bushido: The Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitode. It’s a fascinating read, going into great detail about such topics of courage, benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control. It was the code of conduct adopted by the samurai in feudal Japan, and still influences Japanese society today.
I’m not planning to make my characters Japanese, yet I want my protagonist to live by a rigid moral code of honor. This book has helped me greatly to determine exactly which attributes to give my lead characters, and why they are so important.
I found it interesting that the author notes, “What Japan was she owed to the samurai. They were not only the flower of the nation, but its root as well. All the gracious gifts of Heaven flowed through them. Though they kept themselves socially aloof from the populace, they set a moral standard for them and guided them by their example.”
This is exactly the sort of thing I’m looking to do—have my protagonist lead by example, and in so doing, make the people around him want to be more moral themselves. I did this in my novel, The Lonely War, which was a study in what happens when one sets such a high standard that they can’t live it. I’m looking to work more with that same theme.
Anyway, just rambling about something interesting I’ve read. I highly recommend this book on Bushido to other writers. It has helped me immensely.