Five Modern Japanese Novelists by Donald Keene

By Donald Keene

The recent Yorker has known as Donald Keene "America's preeminent pupil of jap literature." Now he provides a brand new e-book that serves as either a very good creation to fashionable jap fiction and a memoir of his personal lifelong love affair with jap literature and tradition. 5 sleek eastern Novelistsprofiles 5 well known writers whom Donald Keene knew individually: Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Kawabata Yasunari, Mishima Yukio, Abe Kobo, and Shiba Ryotaro. Keene masterfully blends vignettes describing his own encounters with those recognized males with autobiographical observations and his trademark discovered literary and cultural analysis.

Keene opens with a confession: earlier than arriving in Japan in 1953, regardless of having taught eastern for a number of years at Cambridge, he knew the identify of just one dwelling jap author: Tanizaki. Keene's education in classical eastern literature and fluency within the language proved fantastic education, although, for the adventure of literary discovery that begun with that first journey to Japan, as he got here into touch, occasionally really happily, with the genius of a iteration. it's a trip that may fascinate specialists and rookies alike

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In May 1970 I had dinner with friends in Copenhagen. Among the guests was a Danish novelist whom I had met at the time of the 1957 Tokyo PEN Congress. On the basis of the two or three weeks he spent in Japan on that occasion, he had acquired the reputation in Scandinavia of an authority on Japan. He was in a jovial mood that evening and confided to us proudly that it was because of him that Kawabata had won the Nobel Prize. He said that in his capacity as an expert in such matters, he had been asked by members of the Nobel Prize committee to give them the benefit of his opinions on contemporary Japanese literature; the committee seems to have decided that a Japanese would receive the award in 1968.

Ahh, ahh, it hurts. Ohh. ” It hurt him to urinate. His breathing was so labored it sounded as if it might stop any minute, but there rose from the depths of the urine glass the sound of the pure water of a valley stream. “Ohh. ” The pain seemed more than he could bear. As I listened to his voice I felt the tears come to my eyes. The water had boiled, so I gave him some tea. Coarse tea. I had to prop him up for each sip he drank. The bony face, the white hair ravaged by baldness. The quivering hands of bones and skin.

Readers may have trouble understanding precisely what happens at the end of Snow Country, but the effect is appropriate to a notably elusive work. The glory of this novel is the evocativeness of its style. Almost everything that a more realistic author would have included in his account of the relations between Shimamura and Komako is either omitted or stated with such economy that the text must be read carefully. Kawabata relied on the possibilities for ambiguous yet expressive communication innate in the Japanese language.

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