Friday, August 15, 2008

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

Snow Country is the story of Shimamura, a business man who visits a hot-spring resort in the snow covered mountains of North Japan
There he meets and becomes infatuated with the heroine Komako, a young geisha who falls in love with him.
Doomed to failure, the story tells of their initial relationship, and his return a few years later when she is older and things have changed.
There is sensuality and beauty in the story, but the reality is that nothing can really happen between them as he is married.

I've mixed feelings about this novel. Perhaps because I find it so depressing. While it's definitely beautifully written, the story leaves you feeling lonely. As lonely and isolated as the snow mountains themselves perhaps.

I'd love to hear other readers views on this novel.


caitlin said...

I originally had this on my TBR list for the challenge, but there are others that have caught my eye instead. A great deal of Japanese Literature (& film) seems very depressing, doesn't it? Beautiful writing certainly, but sad, lonely, depressed? oh, man.

I suspect the remaining books I choose will also have that plaintive quality too. It seems to be the nature of the beast!

Bellezza said...

I'm always so intrigued by love stories which are tragic: Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, The Awakening. I read Ha Jin's Waiting, although I believe it was Chinese, about a married man, and the woman who waits for him, also with devastating results. I'm looking forward to this one, Caitlin.

p.s. I do recognize the sad quality you speak of in many Japanese books. As I/we read more of them, let's come back to that topic for discussion.

Trish said...

I have this one on my list as well and am really looking forward to reading it--especially after your thoughts (even if it did leave you feeling a little lonely).

Robin said...

Your thoughts on this book are very interesting. I haven't read this one, but read his Thousand Cranes for last year's JLC, and felt the same way. The writing was beautiful, but the story left me as you have described so well. When you read about his life, though, you start to understand why he wrote these stories. Nice review.

Bellezza said...

Robin, what was going on in his life?

Robin said...

Bellezza, I read somewhere that his childhood was very sad -- he lost both his parents when he was very young, was taken in by his grandparents, and then his grandmother died when he was 7 and his grandfather died when he was 15 years old. He committed suicide in 1972 (although his wife said it was accidental) after struggling with both Parkinson's Disease and depression, and after the death by suicide of his friend, Yukio Mishima. And, of course, there was the war in there, too! He didn't leave a suicide note, so no one really knows...

Bellezza said...

Robin, thanks for responding to my question. I think it's a valuable thing to know more about the author of a work, and yet I rarely find out any biographical information. Your answer would certainly explain a lot of grief coming through his books. I wonder of Banana Y. had similar pain in her life, as "Kitchen" was so sad.

cj said...

Lynda -

I read this one for the first challenge and I agree completely with you. It's very sad.

My review is here:


tanabata said...

A lot of Kawabata's history comes up in the stories that make up 'The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories', which is why I wish I'd read it first and then 'Snow Country' not the other way around. I really want to read 'Snow Country' again at some point as I'm sure I'll get more out of it with a second reading.
I read both of these for last year's JLit challenge. Here are the links to my reviews:
Snow Country
The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories