First published in Japanese in instalments between 1935-47, final version published in 1948, first English translation in 1956
Vintage International, trade pb, 180 p.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1968
With the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature, Yasunari Kawabata tells a story of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan, the snowiest region on earth. It is there, at an isolated mountain hotspring, that the wealthy sophisticate Shimamura meets the geisha Komako, who gives herself to him without regrets, knowing that their passion cannot last. Shimamura is a dilettante of the feelings; Komako has staked her life on them. Their affair can have only one outcome. Yet, in chronicling its doomed course, one of Japan's greatest modern writers creates a novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.Reading this really made me regret that I can’t read Japanese (or speak it for that matter). Although Edward G. Seidensticker is well regarded as a translator, I got the feeling that it would be more beautiful, more lyrical in the original. Kawabata’s style is often compared to haiku poetry and you get definite glimpses of that here but I couldn’t help wondering constantly what it read like in Japanese. So throughout the story I could never quite forget that I was reading a translation. That said, I enjoyed the book and many of the images from it still linger in my mind. It’s a story of beauty and sadness that should be savoured, not rushed.
But, drawn to her at that moment, he felt a quiet like the voice of the rain flow over him.When he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the Nobel committee apparently cited 3 of his novels including Snow Country. I look forward to reading the other two (Thousand Cranes and The Old Capital) at some point.
My Rating: 3.5/5
(#49 for 2007, Japanese Literature Challenge #1, Japan Challenge #5, Book Awards Challenge #2, Fall Into Reading Challenge #2)