Nick's Reviews > Snow Country

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
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Aug 03, 2011

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Read from August 02 to 03, 2011

This novel has a beautiful title, and some beautiful (literary) metaphors. Some images that I was able to spot: The washing of the Chijimi kimono in the snow, on the background the raising Sun (had it been the washing of clothes at the fountain, on the white stones of a Spanish market, I would have thought "Carmen", but the comparison doesn't do justice, for there is the symbol of the Japanese Sun) .... the trembling fingers longing to touch the passion .... The book generally describes a World foreign to me, with strange habits, and even stranger characters (for instance, how can I understand the "kimono in trousers" invitation to sensuality; or the mistake Shimamura made, when initially calling Komako a "good girl", then changing to "good woman"). There is certitude however in Kawabata's writing, for these characters all have inner life and strength; and that makes for a more intense and more captivating reading than the average book would do to me .... While reading, for instance, I thought that one could "Chijimi" (i.e. that's how griping the lecture was, I was transforming a thing into a verb - I let you read the book, then translate this new "Chijimi" verb of mine to yourselves).

Make no mistake: This is definitely a Japanese novel, and this writer is a Japanese (i.e. he might have received the Nobel, but it wasn't for his Universal message). I read some other Japanese writers who had "eloped" to other shores .... This was not the case with Kawabata (who lived his entire life in Japan, and died a Samurai death). All the Japanese writers have insight, powerful introspective reflections - just that Kawabata has the distinct Made in Japan feeling attached to it.

Only 3 *s in my book, just because I could not completely understand this novel. It is still a bit of a mystery, to me, even now, after finishing it; and am afraid I'd need a patient Japanese to explain it to me fully. If this is any indication whatsoever, I am usually neutral for the 3 *s ratings. In this case, however, I look forward to read another Kawabata novel (i.e. hope to find Thousand Cranes somewhere).
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