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Una cuestión personal
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Una cuestión personal

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  4,389 ratings  ·  347 reviews
Revelación literaria en los años cincuenta, Kenzaburo Oé quedó consagrado como el mejor novelista japonés de la generación posterior a Yukio Mishima desde los años sesenta y se ha afirmado que recuerda a Dante, William Blake y Malcom Lowry. "Una cuestión personal", una de sus mejores y más crueles novelas, animada de una extraña violencia interior, cuenta la terrible odise...more
Paperback, Compactos #188, 192 pages
Published April 2nd 2000 by Anagrama (first published 1964)
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Reading A Personal Matter is nothing less than an agonizing experience.
It almost feels like somebody poking at and opening up our most secret, suppurating, psychological wounds and making them bleed all over again, thereby compelling us to wake up to the realization of their existence.
These scars and bruises make their presence known time and again by causing us pain of the highest order. And so we proceed to wrap them up in the protective wadding of false pretensions, carefully hiding them aw...more
People love this damn book but I wanted to climb inside the pages and tip our hero into a cement mixer so he could become part of the foundations of the new Tokyo and therefore perform the only useful act in his miserable life. I mean, fucking hell, get a grip.
You and I exist in alternate different forms in countless other universes...
At each of those moments you survived in one universe and left your own corpse behind in another.

- Kenzaburo Oe: A Personal Matter

Bird, the protagonist, is confronted by a grave problem, a problem that threatens his future freedom in life - a deformed baby. He is devastated by a sense of shame since he has just fathered a monster baby and feels trapped with unforeseen, unwanted responsibilities. In the face of his grotes...more
Jul 31, 2008 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Shavit B.
Shelves: lovedlovedloved, 2008
I think one reason I love this book so much is because I really detested it when I started reading it. Like, I really really hated the main character. The book starts off with this 20-something college professor named Bird, who is wandering the streets after drinking in a bar. His wife is in the hospital having a child, and Bird is enjoying a mud bath of self-hatred. He thinks, I've wasted my life, I don't really want to be a father, I'm not as attractive to women as I used to be, blah blah blah...more
Scott Forbes
There is no doubt in my mind that A Personal Matter is a skilfully executed piece of literature. And I hated reading it. The main character, Bird, is a 27 year old who dreams of going to Africa. When his son is born with a brain hernia, he is faced with deciding between surgery for his son (which may or may not allow him to develop normally) and preventing the surgery and allowing the baby to die.

Maybe it’s because I’m a young father myself, but the very idea that Bird would even consider allowi...more
Feb 18, 2008 Keith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious readers
I had never read Oe, although I was aware that he had won the Nobel Prize. The blurbs on the cover report that this is his most popular book, published around the time I graduated from college in the late sixties. I didn't know what to expect, but was surprised to discover a Japanese existentialist, a student of twentieth century French extentialist literature. His writing style reflects the influence of Sartre, Camus, and Beckett. I had read considerable French existentialism during my college...more
Mike Ingram
Amazingly tight existentialist story about moral choices. Really my only complaint has to do with the last 3-4 pages, and it's hard to talk about those pages in any specific detail without giving away the book's ending. I was totally on board up to and including the moment in which Bird makes his choice, but I could have lived without the "flash forward" scene that came next, and revealed the repercussions of that choice. The choice itself seemed to be the thing that was important, a choice made...more
Niles Stanley
This was the first book by Oe that I've read, and it was fantastic. I was shocked at how disgustingly honest Bird was with the reader, who is an obvious parallel to a younger Oe, who has a brain damaged child of his own, although when this was written, it was unclear how the child would develop as he grew up, which is how I think Oe managed to put the ending of A Personal Matter as he did.

The story is essentially an extreme study of morals within the main character, who is a tragic character wh...more
WARNING: May contain triggers for those who have experienced rape.

I've written before about how novellas sometimes sneak up on me, taking a while to build up and becoming truly engaging just as they're about to end. I suppose that one sure-fire way to avoid this syndrome is to start your novella like Kenzaburo Oe's A Personal Matter: full-throttle intensity from the first page, when the atmosphere of subtly grotesque alienation is already fully developed, and the reader seems to be thrust down i...more
If you've never read this one and you're looking for a shortish novel that rocked hard enough to win the dude the Nobel Prize, something you can read before the weekend ends, something with serious existential, historical, and cultural HEFT, but also relatively easy reading, here ya go. I taught this in a lit class last fall and several students said it was the best book they'd ever read. Easily in the top ten for me. When people talk about "perfect" novels, an idea I totally glower at, I think...more
Jackson Burnett
Kenzaburo Oe's protagonist, Bird, suffers an existential crisis when his wife gives birth to child with severe birth defects. A Personal Matter is an unpleasant but very powerful novel.

Bird spends his time in a bar while his wife delivers his baby whom he refers to as a "monster." Bird has an affair and refuses to see the child in the hospital. He feels nothing but defeat and frustration with no legitimate concern for his offspring or spouse. Ultimately, Bird must choose between life or death fo...more
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I've often thought of Oe as having this sort of David Lynch quality. Comparisons to Eraserhead are inevitable here. We have the deformed child slowly getting sicker, the reluctant father, the absent mother, the icy and terrifying realms of medicine and technology, the web of sexuality and alienation... Reading A Personal Matter is a constant downward spiral into the darker areas of modernity. I love shit like this. Maybe you don't. Your tolerance for grotesquerie entirely determines your opinion...more
He sufrido leyendo este libro, un espejo al abismo de lo más oscuro del ser humano, un personaje despreciable, de principio a final que a mi mode de ver no logra redimirse pero ese lado existe y volver la cara es de necios. ¿Recomendarla? Sí, pero con muchas reservas.
Lindsay D
the end was grotesquely simple, i was a little offended that i read through 160 pages wanting to know what the characters would figure out and ended up with that...
What a disappointing read. We are immediately introduced to the protagonist, Bird, and his internal struggles: his wife is at this very moment giving birth to their first child. While this may seem to be a joyous occasion, Bird feels it is a symbol of his loss of youth and freedom. Bird wants nothing more than to travel to Africa one day, but starting a family will be expensive, plus Bird seems to have trouble holding onto his money for more than five minutes. He spends it frequently throughout...more
Reading this novel by Kenzaburo Oe was nearly a mission impossible to me. On August 11 last year, I started reading it, reached Chapter 4 and quitted there. I didn't find it readable enough to find any motive to read any farther, it was seemingly hopeless to read more till I could make it with his 13-chapter "The Silent Cry". Then I thought Oe's tried to convey his message by means of his novels written out of his bitter, tormented and enigmatic mind. Surprisingly this novel also has 13 chapters...more
This is a darker coming of age novel...I would like to compare it to Catcher in the Rye because of the general shape of the plot: a young man receiving bad news and then trying to avoid dealing with it. But, unlike Catcher in the Rye it lacks the humor.

Bird is drawn honestly, warts, and all and I think this offends many readers. I might say this is perhaps the most honest portrait of a young man facing a life and role as a husband and father he doesn't really want. He has all the classic symptom...more
Ο Κενζαμπούρο Όε σκιαγραφεί εξαιρετικά τον ήρωα του στο ζοφερό οδοιπορικό του.
Ο νεαρός Μπερντ, στα 27 του και πριν καλά καλά ωριμάσει συναισθηματικά, βρίσκεται παντρεμένος και εγκλωβισμένος σε μια δουλειά εξ ανάγκης, έχοντας εγκαταλείψει τις σπουδές του. Υποχρεωμένος στον πεθερό του που του βρήκε τη δουλειά, φέροντας το βάρος ενός παρατσουκλιού που έχει αντικαταστήσει το κανονικό του όνομα, Μπερντ δηλαδή Πουλί, γεμάτος άγχος και ερωτηματικά για το γάμο του και την επικείμενη έλευση του πρώτου τ...more
Leonor  Fernandes
I absolutely adored this book; Which is why I sort of devoured it in three/four days. There's just something really unique about japanese literature. Trust me, there is. And it has to do, mostly, with the fact that you can sense a very complex sensibility and deep understanding of live and human behavior. This book is mainly about choices, about what makes us move, about what makes us stop. I loved it. And I recomment it. I do. Can't wait to read some more books by this lovely author :)
Now... 3.5 stars because of the sudden plot twist in the last pages
This was a different book from those I have become accustomed with, regarding Japanese literature- mainly because of the totally unpredictable plot twist on the final pages.
What made me smirk at the first pages was that Oe uses metaphors constantly and that's totally different from Tanizaki's or Ogawa's or Murakami's way of writing. So it was an interesting and relaxing change I could say.
The familiar melancholy and depression...more
On the one hand, I found this book often off-putting. On the other hand I found it to be fascinating.

To be very lazy and compare Oe to a different Japanese male novelist: I found Oe to be more interesting and more compelling than any of the Murakami I've read.
ستكون أجمل كثيراً بدون الفصل الأخير، حسّيتها دخلت في خطاب أخلاقي بوجوده
ترجمة وديع سعادة رائعة، الرواية جيدة جدا في المجمل
i found this book at a used book store in chicago. i liked the cover and the dude won a nobel prize so it couldnt be that bad.

i really liked the writing. it was very metaphorical. things always stood for other things and there were lots of similes. the emotional intensity was completely unrelenting - this book was actually a challenge to get through just bc of the sheer intensity of the dread, the anguish & the sense of being out of control. however i really liked it. i cant say much else wi...more
This novel is about a man who confronts or actually tries to run away from every step towards adulthood. As his wife is about to give birth to their first child, Bird is confronted with responsibility that he starts to actively run away from. Bird, a nickname to indicate his immaturity, is at a crossroad of either choosing to continue running away from adulthood responsibilities or to grow up and become a responsible grown up.

In fact, the story is primarily spent dealing with Bird preparing to...more
Πρόκειται για την εσωτερική πάλη ενός πατέρα, τού Μπερντ, που η γυναίκα του γεννάει ένα παιδί με μια σημαντική ανωμαλία στο κεφάλι. Ο Μπερντ βρίσκει καταφύγιο και υποστήριξη σε μια ερωμένη και το βιβλίο έχει και σκηνές σεξ.

Παρότι μέχρι πρότινος εάν έβλεπα πως μια ιστορία δεν μου αρέσει άφηνα το βιβλίο στην άκρη για να δοκιμάσω κάτι άλλο, τελευταία πήρα απόφαση να το παλεύω λίγο παραπάνω και μια τέτοια περίπτωση ήταν κι αυτό εδώ.

Υπάρχουν σημαντικά σημεία στην πλοκή που δεν εξηγούνται, τουλάχιστον...more
Apr 02, 2011 Elizabeth rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scaredy cats who like to get busy
Shelves: 2011
"Bird" is the main character here whose wife gives birth to an abnormal baby and the story is how he deals with the baby- specifically deals with the baby. He doesn't deal well but it's a fairly interesting ride into the depths of his neuroses. This book reads very similar to Haruki Murakami novels sans the surreal touch, to an extent at times it felt spooky. The descriptive inner dialogue, 24/7 whiskey drinking and sex with an intelligent broken girl all made me think of Murakami. Unlike Muraka...more
David Winn
I don't know who to recommend this book to. It's very good, but also deeply upsetting and kind of gross. If a man dealing with the shame of wanting his newborn son dead and coping with the implications of that and his narcissism while seeing everything as ugly sounds good to you, then consider this a high recommendation.

These are some Kafka levels of self-loathing and shame though, and it's all accentuated by Ōe's prose, which is very physically-oriented. Motion and thought all blends into a vag...more
Elisabeth Jansen
I didn't love this. The writing style was strong and I appreciate Oe's ability to express the depth of depravity and modern male impotence with a minimalism that I (whether fairly or not) associate with modern Japan and modern writing. My problem, and this is purely personal, was that I had no empathy for the protagonist. The journey that Oe took him through, though intense and often morbid, did not justify his character's behavior. To be fair, I don't know the pressures that come with being a J...more
Sergio Arroyo
Great book (I read the Spanish translation) It has most of the features I would expect from a 20th century novel set in a city. It has a lot of Western culture references which makes me wonder what's all the rage of H. Murakami being the most western of the eastern writers.

I would recommend this book without a doubt to anyone willing to expand his or her knowledge of beautiful asian literature.

This translation is kind of fragmented, meaning by that that the words just doesn't flow as I would exp...more
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Comments on this book . . . 6 76 Jun 26, 2013 09:48PM  
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Kenzaburō Ōe (大江 健三郎), is a major figure in contemporary Japanese literature. His works, strongly influenced by French and American literature and literary theory, engage with political, social and philosophical issues including nuclear weapons, social non-conformism and existentialism.

Ōe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994 for creating "an imagined world, where life and myth condens...more
More about Kenzaburō Ōe...
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“One day Bird had approached his father with this question; he was six years old: Father, where was I a hundred years before I was born? Where will I be a hundred years after I die? Father, what will happen to me when I die? Without a word, his young father had punched him in the mouth, broke two of his teeth and bloodied his face, and Bird forgot the fear of death.” 7 likes
“في هذا العصر الخاص بنا من الصعب الجزم بالقول بأن كونك تحيا أفضل من كونك لم تولد من الأصل.” 3 likes
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