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The Face of Another

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  2,041 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
Like an elegantly chilling postscript to The Metamorphosis, this classic of postwar Japanese literature describes a bizarre physical transformation that exposes the duplicities of an entire world. The narrator is a scientist hideously deformed in a laboratory accident–a man who has lost his face and, with it, his connection to other people. Even his wife is now repulsed by ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1964)
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Best Japanese Books
106th out of 493 books — 2,331 voters
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59th out of 256 books — 199 voters

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Mar 13, 2015 Nicole~ rated it it was amazing
The world of The Face of Another is the world of Japan in the 1960s , observed through Abe's highly tuned microscope; a world layered in paranoia, in which fast growing technology when not regulated, might create a terrifying nightmarish forecast of the future. Abe explores the foreign - the unknown within man, moving his protagonist in deceptive scenarios, observing his relationship with others, peeling away his external perceptions, to expose the layers within.

A scientist's facial vulgarizati
Kobo Abe es un escritor que me agrada notablemente. Admiro mucho su forma de escribir. Este es el tercer libro luego de haber leído la recopilación de cuentos “Los cuentos siniestros” y otra de sus novelas más conocidas, “Encuentros secretos”.
Pero en este caso, debo reconocer que me costó muchísimo terminar el libro. Tal vez haya ocurrido esto por la densísima prosa reflexiva y los cuestionamientos existencialistas del personaje principal.
La novela se compone de tres largos capítulos divididos e
Feb 05, 2012 Ken rated it really liked it
It is not surprising that readers, even if they are devout fans of Kōbō Abe, don’t take to The Face of Another in the same manner as The Woman in the Dunes or some of his other novels. It may be because of the uncomfortable feeling a reader gets being stuck in the narrator’s head for an entire novel (much like Camus’ The Stranger). The story is built on the premise of a wife finding her husband’s notebooks which are filled with solipsistic meanderings, repeated excursuses, counter-arguments dire ...more
May 31, 2013 Mkultra rated it did not like it
Huge disappointment.

I came across Kobo Abe by way of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s screen adaptation of ‘The Woman in the Dunes,’ as well as ‘Pitfall,’ both of which I regard as masterpieces of Japanese cinema, on par with the films of Kurosawa and the other Japanese greats. This was my first Kobo Abe novel.

The premise is very compelling. Not so the execution. I found the prose so impenetrably dull and repetitive that my trying to stay focused to follow the narrator’s train of thought was quite excrucia
Face of Another is a kind of post-Kafka take on the experiment gone wrong stories of Wells and Stevenson. Abe sometimes sinks his narrative drive by fully realizing the artifice through which he is revealing his story, here it is the notebooks of the scientist who creates the titular object, written to his wife. This mirrors the structures of Secret Rendezvous and Box Man and in the final post-script of the wife echoes the finale of Tanizaki’s The Key. The notebooks contain anecdotal philosophiz ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Ipsith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, kobo-abe
This is by far my favorite of Abe’s novels. Mainly due to the odd tension he is able to sustain through long, often philosophically concerned monologues of a man who, after burning his face, decides to fashion and wear a mask in an effort to locate the social effect of the self and how that self can be split. It kept reminding me of a more universally centered American Psycho, 30 years before Ellis’s, with even more layering of psychological effect and more eerie calm as the narrator continues r ...more
Dec 04, 2015 Χρήστος rated it it was amazing
Αρκετά διαφορετικό από τη Γυναίκα της Άμμου, με λιγότερο εντυπωσιακή γραφή. Τα θέματα όμως με τα οποία καταπιάνεται ο Άμπε ( η ταυτότητα με τους μύθους και τις διαστροφές της, η μοναξιά, η σχέση του ανθρώπου με τον Άλλο σε όλα τα επίπεδα, ο έρωτας, τα σεξουαλικά ταμπού, η ψυχοσύνθεση του σύγχρονου ανθρώπου στο αστικό περιβάλλον, και πολλά ακόμα) και κυρίως η ιδιαίτερη και εμβριθής, φιλοσοφικής πολλές φορές χροιάς, ματιά του, καταφέρνουν να δημιουργήσουν μια εφιαλτική και ανατριχιαστική μοντέρνα ...more
Yehia Nasser
Oct 16, 2015 Yehia Nasser rated it really liked it
But then, it just occurred to me…it’s probably a good thing to go to the movies occasionally. The whole audience puts on the actor’s face. No one needs his own. A movie’s a place where you pay your money to exchange faces for a while ...more
Gertrude & Victoria
May 28, 2009 Gertrude & Victoria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese-library
If Abe Kobo is one of the most important writers in post-war Japan, then The Face of Another is one of its most incisive commentaries on human nature and identity. Brilliantly conceived and meticulously crafted, a work of this magnitude can only be the product of an intellectual with rare creative ability. It is a veritable invention of genius, and nothing less than a philosophical tour de force.

The Japanese title Tanin no Kao is a more apt title for it connotes something stronger than just "of
Chris Shaffer
Jun 02, 2009 Chris Shaffer rated it liked it
Shelves: translations
Oh, the under-appreciated Kobo Abe. His work is always intriguing, especially Women in the Dunes and The Ruined Map, and usually quite compelling, but something about this one had me less than enthusiastic to pick it up. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but it just wasn't the same Abe I have enjoyed so much in his previous novels.

There is plenty of intrigue: a man loses his face in a laboratory accident, constructs a mask to hide the deformity, then, as he plays psychological mind games with him
արմին վիշապաքաղ
երրերդ տետրը լավն էր
մարդու ու հասարակության, ինքնության, ես֊ի ու ուրիշի փոխհարաբերությունների մասին մտորումները դուրս եկան
մնացածը՝ ինչ֊որ միջին
Rafael Montenegro-Fausto
1) que eu lembre, muito diferente do filme do Teshigahara de 66. /
2) bom pra ler com as trilhas sonoras do Toru Takemitsu. /
3) essa edição da cosacnaify é 'a ideal'.
Dessy Priyatna
Jul 23, 2014 Dessy Priyatna rated it really liked it
Suka banget sama novel lama ini, yang berkisah tentang derita seorang lelaki yang wajahnya cacat akibat kecelakaan di laboratorium.
Tokoh "aku", seorang ahli kimia molekuler, wajahnya terbakar hingga rusak parah, yang bersisa di wajahnya hanya jejaring-jejaring daging akibat luka keloid.
Wajah yang merupakan penanda identitas, bagi lelaki ini juga menjadi sangat begitu pentingnya. Setelah tak lagi mempunyai wajah ia begitu menderita, terasing, bahkan sang istri pun berkhianat hingga ia harus teru
Jan 08, 2016 A rated it really liked it
Of course the author ended with a movie summary in highly lyrical language just to show he could do it if he wanted to - write beautifully. The rest of the book is great in voice - the narrator is unbearably self-centered. I felt claustrophobic being stuck inside his head. Lots and lots of intriguing and smart diagnosis of identity....made me think about masks a great deal. Made me wonder if I could design my own face to suit what I think my soul is? It probably wouldn't even be a face. It would ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Eadweard rated it it was amazing
Great book, now it's time to rewatch the movie.

"I have proven that a mask by its very existence is basically destructive. Equivalent to premeditated murder, the mask can stand shoulder to shoulder, with no feeling of inferiority, with arson or banditry. It was not surprising that the mask, which itself was a form of destruction, was not inspired to such crimes as arson and murder, although it was in the act of walking now through the ruins of human relationships destroyed by its existence. Desp
Christopher Roberts
I think this book was brilliantly conceived, the ideas of the notebooks written to his wife, and the entire premise. The writing itself was atrocious though. Abe spends way too much time rambling, less time on the meat of the story and should have explored this story in different ways. This is my second book by Abe, and the first was compelling enough to make me pick up this one after not being completely won over by the first. This one is going to turn me off of reading him in the future though ...more
Aug 11, 2016 E M rated it really liked it

Într-un oraș japonez din anii ’60 un inginer rămâne mutilat în urma unui accident deleter la locul de muncă. Dacă inițial transformarea chipului pare a fi ușor asimilată de un sine aparent echilibrat, apolinic, întalnirea cu celalalt, în acest caz cu soția, antamează un șir de acțiuni surprinzătoare ce vor fi explicate de către bărbat în cele 3 caiete (caietul negru, caietul alb, caietul gri) pe care le scrie cu scopul de a-i descrie persoanei iubite jocul în care a intrat fără voia ei. Doar că
Ikra Amesta
Feb 14, 2016 Ikra Amesta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seorang ilmuwan mengalami kecelakaan percobaan di laboratorium kimia yang menyebabkan kulit wajahnya rusak dan melepuh. Setelah itu ia membebat seluruh kepalanya dengan perban; maka iapun terlihat berbeda, seperti orang aneh, monster, dijauhi orang-orang, bahkan istrinya menolak bercinta. Didorong rasa sakit hati dan amarah, ia bekerja keras membuat topeng paling sempurna yang akan memberinya wajah baru sebagai manusia.

Ditampilkan sebagai kumpulan catatan harian yang dinarasikan langsung oleh si
Oct 12, 2015 Monica rated it liked it
An interesting premise, occasional insightful glimpses, a lot of rambling musing in between. If it wasn't a relatively short novel, I would have not persevered. A scientist loses his face in an accident and constructs a masque. As his feelings of isolation and (self)victimisation grow he hopes the masque will offer him the protection and the disguise in which he can enact his revenge on others and in particular on those closest to him. It is at this point where he gets it so wrong. The most luci ...more
Sep 14, 2015 A.M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
In Kobo Abe's The Face of Another, a man's face is destroyed in a lab accident, and he inwardly embarks on an agonizing journey of self-analysis while outwardly constructing a mask to conceal his wounds.

The novel is described as "an intellectual horror story of the highest order," but it reads like a metaphysical mystery. Having recently completed Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, I cannot help but see a strong similarity between this novel and the Trilogy in subject matter, composition and even t
Norbert Preining
Aug 31, 2014 Norbert Preining rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished another book of Kobo Abe (安部公房), called "The Face of Another" (他人の顔). It is the story of a person whose face got severely damaged in an accident, and who builds a new face. Like Woman in the Dunes, the first book of Kobo Abe I read, a story very strange and very startling.

The Woman in the Dunes, which also made it into a movie, was recommended to me by a good friend. I read - no I devoured this book. An extravagant story of a man getting lost in the dunes not to return. The movie
Aug 09, 2014 Paddythemic rated it it was amazing


great first sentences -

"At last you have come, threading your way through the endless passages of the maze."

I think enjoyment of this book will hinge mostly on the reader's skill in empathizing with the narrator's unusual plight. once more, abe's trademark imagination shines in this novel.

i love when novels contain imbedded short stories (a murakami technique also); look for the "king contracted a strange disease" parable. (page 119 vintage edition
Marc Kozak
May 30, 2014 Marc Kozak rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The only book I've ever started and not finished was The Story of the Eye, which I didn't know anything about when I started it, and it turned out to be basically disturbing pornography. I usually read a lot about the books I'm about to read, so I at least I know what I'm getting in to for the most part.

When reading about The Face of Another, I heard a lot of Kafka comparisons, and the basic idea sounded intriguing enough. But 70 pages in, and I just can't go on. I'm starting to skim over parag
If you are into dynamic, leaning on plot books, this one is a late-bloomer. Being nowhere near an atmospheric piece either, the endless musing passages grimly inserted throughout, make it unbearably tedious halfway. After reaching the protagonist's wife's response, Kobo Abe's sense of humour seemed to be by far the sharpest and it almost won me over. Ultimately, the movie recalling part however sensibly thought out, only gave the impression of a wrenched attempt to reclaim the linearity of the b ...more
Usually a book this long I can have read in a day or so. However, this book took me quite a long time to read. 2 Weeks. I found this book to be extremely hard to read and follow. I felt that the narrator of the story rambled on and on, which made this book boring in my opinion.
Vím, že bych měla dát lepší hodnocení, protože je to fakt kvalitní četba. jen mi připadla v průběhu hodně roztahaná. Nemám nic proti monologu hlavní postavy (dokonce to mám i ráda), ale některé vnitřní rozhovory byly fakt dost mimo a já se začala nudit. Každopádně klade kniha spoustu opravdu zajímavých otázek.
Aug 09, 2011 Jessie rated it did not like it
Hysteric and full of platitudinous-counter-platitudes that seem juvenile. At certain points in the book, Mr. Abe reveals that he may be aware that of this, but then does not use that awareness to make the narrative more interesting. My favorite part of the novel was the short story told at the very end about a young woman who lost half her face. He stopped telling the story from first person and moved to 3rd, which inevitably curtailed his fever storms and provided a more engaging story.
I guess
Apr 10, 2016 Koen added it
1. In the case of the protagonist in this story, he is being excluded due to his differently looking face after an accident. He feels personally insecure about how he looks like because in society having a face as his isn't normal. In the case of him, people with injuries that change their face are being silenced because they are thought of as different and worse than others but “No matter how many faces I have, there is no changing the fact that I am me.” He is still the same person only now wi ...more
Mar 30, 2014 Annett rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gabrielle Pio
Novel ini akan membawa kita ke dalam alam pikiran rumit si tokoh utama kita yang tak bernama (dan semua karakter di dalam novel pun tidak bernama) lewat buku hariannya, yang sengaja ia tulis supaya kelak dibaca oleh istrinya. Oleh tokoh utama kita, buku hariannya dibagi menjadi 3 buku tanpa ada alasan yang spesifik, namun kita akan menemukan bahwa ketiga buku harian tersebut terdapat pula 3 fase berbeda dalam perkembangan psikologisnya.

Tokoh utama kita ini adalah seorang kepala sebuah institut t
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Kōbō Abe, pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, was a Japanese writer, playwright, photographer and inventor.

He was the son of a doctor and studied medicine at Tokyo University. He never practised however, giving it up to join a literary group that aimed to apply surrealist techniques to Marxist ideology.

Abe has been often compared to Franz Kafka and Alberto Moravia for his surreal, often nightmarish explor
More about Kōbō Abe...

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“You don't need me. What you really need is a mirror. Because any stranger is for you simply a mirror in which to reflect yourself. I don't ever again want to return to such a desert of mirrors.” 37 likes
“Still, the one who best understands the significance of light is not the electrician, not the painter, not the photographer, but the man who lost his sight in adulthood. There must be the wisdom of deficiency in deficiency, just as there is the wisdom of plenty in plenty.” 27 likes
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