Sunday, December 16, 2007

'The Dancing Girl of Izu and other stories'

by Yasunari Kawabata
Translated from the Japanese by J. Martin Holman

Fiction/Japanese/short stories, written between 1923 - 1929, The Dancing Girl of Izu first published in Japanese in 1925, this English translation published in 1998
Counterpoint Press, trade pb, 162 p.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1968
One of the most influential figures in modern Japanese fiction, Yasunari Kawabata is treasured for the intensity of his perceptions and the compressed elegance of his style. Written between 1923 and 1929, these works form a shadow biography of the author’s early years, revealing fresh glimpses into Kawabata’s haunting vision of loss, longing, and memory. In moving selections that sketch the outlines of the author’s life of survivorship, J. Martin Holman’s graceful translation captures the delicate nature of Kawabata’s enduring prose.
I found this at the library just after I’d finished Snow Country and I thought it would be interesting to read some of his early writings. Many of the stories are semi-autobiographical and I enjoyed these very much, especially the title story, The Dancing Girl of Izu. It was interesting to see him work through some of the same themes in various pieces and I imagine it shows how these themes would affect his future writings as well. I can’t really comment on that though since I’ve only read one of his novels so far. Even though I didn’t love all of the stories, I’m very glad I read this collection. It’s made me much more curious about the writer himself and equally curious to read more of his work.
What seemed strangest to me when I found this diary was that I have no recollection of the day-to-day life it describes. If I do not recall them, where have those days gone? Where had they vanished to? I pondered the things that human beings lose to the past. (Diary of my Sixteenth Year)
My Rating: 4/5

(#50 for 2007, Japanese Literature Challenge #2, Japan Challenge #6, 2nds Challenge #3)


  1. It can be quite interesting to see how an author progresses over time, I think. :-) I am glad you enjoyed this one! Another one to add to my wish list. Thanks for the review!

  2. Wendy- I kind of wish I'd read this first as I think I might've appreciated Snow Country more had I done so. Maybe a reread at some point.

  3. Holy smokes! You're going to be the first one done with the Japanese Literature Challenge and it's not even January yet. I'm so happy to read your reviews, and find out more information about Kawabata. He's on my list, too.

    I can really relate to your comment about wishing you could read the works in Japanese. It makes me wonder what I'm missing in the translation, too.

  4. Bellezza- LOL! They were both pretty short though. I know you're planning to read First Snow on Fuji. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on some of his later writings.


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