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Beauty and Sadness

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  7,009 ratings  ·  596 reviews
Beauty and Sadness (Japanese: 美しさと哀しみと Utsukushisa to kanashimi to) is a 1964 novel by Japanese Nobel Prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata.

Opening on the train to Kyoto, the narrative, in characteristic Kawabata fashion, subtly brings up issues of tradition and modernity as it explores writer Oki Toshio's reunion with a young lover from his past, Otoko Ueno, who is now a
Paperback, 206 pages
Published January 30th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1964)
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3.85  · 
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Does a novel have to be pretty? Can’t a novel give account of sadness?

Could a novelist be like a painter or sculptor?

I suppose even a woman's hatred is a kind of love

What does it take to be a great author? Does one have to condense complex ideas to form out prose which is high on acumen and demanding? Could an author write so effortlessly as if he is making no attempt at all, as water falls down a hill; and yet, he could strike you so profoundly that your heart weeps out. You may find it amusing
Ahmad Sharabiani
Utsukushisa to kanashimi to = Beauty and Sadness, Yasunari Kawabata
Beauty and Sadness (Japanese: Utsukushisa to kanashimi to) is a 1964 novel by Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata. My own copy of this book: Published January 30th 1996 by Vintage, Paperback, 206 pages.
Opening on the train to Kyoto, the narrative, in characteristic Kawabata fashion, subtly brings up issues of tradition and modernity as it explores writer Oki Toshio's reunion with a young lover from his past, Otoko Ueno, who is now
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those in search of more than a compelling title
Recommended to Dolors by: Cristina
Shelves: asian, read-in-2013
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” Frank Kafka.

Beauty and Sadness is much more than a mere contrivance to attract potential readers, this magic narration, shrouded in magnificent contradiction, has the power to shock right from the beginning with the indwelling lyricism emanating from its title.
Beauty and Sadness. Opposing concepts fused and confused in a blur of balmy ocher and passionate red, in the inevitable passage of time and the timelessness of the frozen moment, in t
Glenn Sumi
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This quiet, haunting novel puts an intriguing twist on the love triangle narrative.

Oki Toshio is a well-known middle-aged writer. When he was in his early 30s, he had an affair with an innocent teenager, Otoko, got her pregnant (he was married at the time) and essentially ruined her life. He then dealt with the experience in a novel, which remains his most popular work.

Now he’s curious about seeing Otoko again. She’s a famous yet reclusive artist, still beautiful, and living in Kyoto with her y
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beauty and Sadness is an understated, delicate story. It begins with the sad memories of Oki Toshio, an eminent writer - and then, gradually but fiercely, reveals how those long ago events have done damage to the lives of many. All is revealed in an uncomplicated style, and without overt judgement from the author. He lets the story speak for itself.

Oki longs for a meeting with Ueno Otoko (now famous too, an artist) the woman whose youth he ruined, and to whom the past echoes with obligations
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: にほん, yk
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
If we rid ourselves of every cultural artifact that blended love and hate together in equal measure, we would be be left with very little that is worth remembering. Love without hate is optimistic and hate without love is depressing but to have both! That is an accurate portrayal of ourselves, and after countless millennia we still crave the tales that delve unflinchingly into that bright and terrible line between the two.

But is it really a line? What causes one to cross it, and for how long? A
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: beauty is for teenagers
Recommended to Mariel by: sadness is for teenagers
This is gonna get hypothetical because there are film versions of Beauty and Sadness: Tristesse et beauté and Utsukushisa to kanashimi. Somehow I haven't seen either one of these, not even when mass viewing Charlotte Rampling films in the early '00s; nor when bingeing on Japanese cinema, also in the early '00s. I'll rectify this in the future! My movie watching has dropped off significantly in the last three years. Maybe it's how I take on foriegn feelings as if they could be related to me. I've ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japon-çin
A Classical Kawabata's Tale
Writing a comment for such a masterpiece is one of the hardest moments that I've ever had. From beginning to the end, Mr. Kawabata reveals an incredible environment among individuals and pushes reader to contemplate to what extend obscurity and complexity can endure among people.

The layers of novel psychologically sets very intense themes such as love, revenge, acceptance by society and manipulation with Mr.Kawabata's artistic intelligence.

I really feel that before wri
Revel Atkinson
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I sometimes wonder how I manage to avoid living under a blanket of sadness myself. Is the past not fuller than the future? Does it pose more of a threat to loneliness or is it the cause? It’s not permanent—I’m not willing to subject myself to that quite yet—but I live mostly alone in the desert, a temporary hermit at twenty-three. I read Beauty and Sadness recently, and found myself constantly jumping between Kawabata’s story and my own. Oki, who is roughly thirty years older than I, and Otoko, ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
Second Review: 3.75 stars

Some weeks ago I came across a review mentioning this novel by Kawabata so I decided to read it to recapture what, I think, I had missed from the first reading. While reading the following nine chapters: Temple Bells, Early Spring, The Festival of the Full Moon, A Rainy Sky, A Stone Garden, The Lotus in the Flames, Strands of Black Hair, Summer Losses, and The Lake, I thought it would deserve a 4-star rating but I changed my mind at the last chapter so the rating minus .
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
A bleak and beautiful and tragic novel, slowly unwinding and unraveling love, lust, beauty, and revenge. Kawabata earns his Nobel many times over.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018

Very beautiful and simplistic - exactly what i wanted out of a Japanese Lit story like this one, but more on the dull side in my personal opinion. Still appreciated it and thought it was pretty, but I'll be interested to see what this author's other works bring.
"I'm not afraid of suicide. The worst thing is being sick of life." (53)
I decided to expand my reading of Japanese writers beyond the small circle of favorites—particularly Dazai and Mishima—with Kawabata. I ordered three of his works, and settled on Beauty and Sadness as a first encounter—largely, admittedly, due to its intriguing and sublime title. The story centers on a love affair between a fifteen-year-old girl (Otoko) and a married-with-child (Taichiro) thirty-year-old man (Oki). Oki later
Sep 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: lit, translation
Kawabata's Nobel Prize winning novel of love, sex, and revenge, memory, growing old, and obsession.

"Her awareness of her body was inseparable from her memory of his embrace."

His work is deceptively simple, seemingly all touching on similar subject matter with a similar clean and clear, straight forward style that manage to capture a certain mood of longing in his protagonists and dislocation from their lives yet evocative of time and place and providing deep insight in to their souls.

This one wa
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: big-red-circle
A bit of a shocker. I remembered "Snow Country" as being about old people and snow. This is crammed with sizzling lesbians. There's beauty and sadness in spades, but he's also left lots of room for some very bad romance. Steamy.

I think I'm right to say that this has my first Japanese-fiction daytime outdoors sex scene.

This was obviously written by a man, and you probably don't want to read it if you are serious about your lesbianism.
Jul 24, 2010 rated it did not like it

When I bought this book, second hand but 'new,' I ignored the little alarms that warned me to keep my money in my pocket. I had spent too much time looking for my usual dreck in my local used bookstore, and had made myself late — books before life! As I'm in the process of leaving the store I see atop an 'in-box' near the cash register Beauty and Sadness. I decided that the author being Japanese out-weighed my caution against him being a Nobel prize winner. I allowed my visual aesthetic to tumbl
Kelly Wondracek
Jun 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese
Beauty and Sadness tells of how people damage one another--through greed, seduction, and even through art. All of the characters in this look are manipulative to a certain degree, even our favorites. One of the characters was so blatently irrational that I couldn't tell if Kawabata meant for her to be a farse.

It's the type of book that I appreciate more after I've read it and start thinking about it, rather than during. I know in the future certain scenes or quotes will pop into my mind.

A defi
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
”Shall we play dolphin?”

I’m really, really torn about this one. I wanted to give up but the revenge plot kept me in. Excuse the schizoid review but that’s how it goes.

Once again Kawabata creates an enchanting world with vivid descriptions and luscious prose. If nothing else, Kyoto has got to be on my must visit list.

But then there is the sordid plot.

(view spoiler)
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kawabata, fiction
Another, my fourth, novel from Kawabata. But this one is very different from the other three.

Beauty and Sadness is a novel of love and betrayal, vengeance and deceit. Unlike the other books, the story moves steadily towards an end that is not always apparent. Instead of one central character, Kawabata shifts the centre of attention over three characters.

In the other three books, Snow Country, Thousand Cranes and The Sound of the Mountain, much of the 'action' was carried by description, by sub
Alternative title: Never Marry a Writer

You shouldn't really. I make my money by my craft, and you shouldn't marry me. It's impossible not to incorporate bits of your life into your writing. And if, like the protagonist of Beauty and Sadness, you are a bit of a heel to begin with, it will be far worse. This is more of Kawabata facing down modern Japan and I'm guessing facing down his own relationship to his metier, and it's one of the better books of his that I've read.
My fourth Kawabata book, this and two others being novels and another a collection of short stories...
I don't know if ruminations about the sea and stone gardens and cherry blossoms and fireflies or whatever make this story any less the lurid soap opera. Nonetheless, it's all a framework for what Kawabata does best, about which I elaborate below.
The story, in a nutshell, is told partly in retrospect and partly in the present. A novelist in his 50s, Oki, recalls how at age 30 (when he was newly m
Shivani Maurya
This book is a masterpiece for its depiction of human emotions..namely, jealousy and possessiveness..

The book revolves around three main characters : Oki, Otoko and Keiko. Oki (a novelist) is a married man with wife and kids. He (in his thirties) had an affair with Otoko that did not end well, granted Otoko was fifteen at the time. Otoko is in her thirties now. She has gained some renown as a painter and is living with her student/lover Keiko. Oki's nostalgia driven trip to Otoko sets in motion
William Clemens
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I always like reading Kawabata for the sense of other that it gives. In any translation I feel that his stories are so soaked in Japanese tradition that they are hard to completely understand, and yet they are so simple and delicate that they convey their story beautifully even though the characters emotions and motivations are not as easy to see.

An aging author reflects on his true life affair with a 16 yr old girl when he was 30. That 16 yr old girl, now a middle aged woman, reflects on hersel
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nippon
While I loved Kawabata's morality tale, it certainly helps not to think about it. Beauty and Sadness may then be emblematic of my holiday weekend. I finally felt good and productive after nasty sinus issues. I ran errands, rode my bike every day, my wife was home and my best friend was in from New York. The suddenly while laughing with two of my favorite people, I recognized how seldom I am able to simply hang out with Joel and my wife, drink beer and talk about Sarkozy and Terrence Stamp. Did i ...more
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story of lives marred by their own twisted wickedness is told with the same impassive voice that describes landscapes and natural scenes of quiet beauty. A beauty ever more elusive to the characters’ artistic eye. This creates the effect of an even deeper contrast between the delicate but imposing beauty of Nature, of ancient buildings, the charm of quotidian human activities with the ugly, the malignant and the grotesque that lurks in the depths of human psyche. Like insects seen through th ...more
Megha Chakraborty
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my very good friend suggested me this book, also I wanted to explore more Japanese authors and literatures and I wasn't dissappointed.
This book is about so many things, love, revenge, art, places.
The writing is very abstract, still all the characters have been defined wonderfully. There is madness in all the characters, something which I cant explain for that you need to read the book.
Minimalist writing is difficult and author has done it so beautifully, it was a complete page turner f
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.

The famed Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata wrote many novels which focused mostly on the beauty of Japanese traditional cultures, the scenery and the relationship between men and women, and his novels are often a 'hit or miss' for me.

After enjoying his elegantly written novels such as The Old Capitol, Snow Country and Sleeping Beauties; Beauty and Sadness really feels like a miss to me.

Once again, the backdrop is set in Koyto, though it's interesting to see how Mr. Kawabata describe
About the kind of loves that stick to your bones.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
This is a story about Otaka, a beautiful painter, and her passionate protegee Keiko. Otaka had an affair with a married man (Oki) in her youth; the affair resulted in a pregnancy, the death of that newbord, and Otaka's suicide attempt. It also resulted in that man leaving Otaka, yet later writing a 'fictional novel' that detailed their entire relationship. The entire community figured out whom the novel was based on.
Needless to say, Otaka was hurt. Fastforward 15 years and Keiko, Otaka's teenage
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Yasunari Kawabata (川端 康成) was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose works won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author to receive the award. His works have enjoyed broad international appeal and are still widely read today.

Nobel Lecture: 1968
“I suppose even a woman's hatred is a kind of love.” 99 likes
“Time passed. But time flows in many streams. Like a river, an inner stream of time will flow rapidly at some places and sluggishly at others, or perhaps even stand hopelessly stagnant. Cosmic time is the same for everyone, but human time differs with each person. Time flows in the same way for all human beings; every human being flows through time in a different way.” 91 likes
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