Other books byYasunari Kawabata
Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer’s masterpiece: a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan. At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome. In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages — a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.
Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes is a luminous story of desire, regret, and the almost sensual nostalgia that binds the living to the dead. While attending a traditional tea ceremony in the aftermath of his parents’ deaths, Kikuji encounters his father’s former mistress, Mrs. Ota. At first Kikuji is appalled by her indelicate nature, but it is not long before he succumbs to passion—a passion with tragic and unforeseen consequences, not just for the two lovers, but also for Mrs. Ota’s daughter, to whom Kikuji’s attachments soon extend. Death, jealousy, and attraction convene around the delicate art of the tea ceremony, where every gesture is imbued with profound meaning.
The Lakeis the history of an obsession. It traces a man's sad pursuit of an unattainable perfection, a beauty out of reach, admired from a distance, unconsummated. Homeless, a fugitive from an ambiguous crime, his is an incurable longing that drives him to shadow nameless women in the street and hide in ditches as they pass above him, beautiful and aloof. For their beauty is not of this world, but of a dream-the voice of a girl he meets in a Turkish bath is "an angel's," the figures of two students he follows seem to "glide over the green grass that hid their knees." Reality is the durable ugliness that is his constant companion and is symbolized in the grotesque deformity of the hero's feet. And it is the irreconcilable nature of these worlds that explains the strangely dehumanized, shadowy quality of the eroticism that pervades this novel. In a senseThe Lakeis a formless novel, a "happening," making it one of the most modern of all Kawabata's works. Just as the hero's interest might be caught by some passing stranger, so the course of the novel swerves abruptly from present to past, memory shades into hallucination, dreams break suddenly into daylight. It is an extraordinary performance of free association, made all the more astonishing for the skill with which these fragments are resolved within the completed tapestry.
The Sound of the Mountain
Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s The Sound of the Mountain is a beautiful rendering of the predicament of old age — the gradual, reluctant narrowing of a human life, along with the sudden upsurges of passion that illuminate its closing. By day Ogata Shingo, an elderly Tokyo businessman, is troubled by small failures of memory. At night he associates the distant rumble he hears from the nearby mountain with the sounds of death. In between are the complex relationships that were once the foundations of Shingo’s life: his trying wife; his philandering son; and his beautiful daughter-in-law, who inspires in him both pity and the stirrings of desire. Out of this translucent web of attachments, Kawabata has crafted a novel that is a powerful, serenely observed meditation on the relentless march of time.