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Жена лекаря Сэйсю Ханаоки

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  619 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Роман известной японской писательницы Савако Ариёси (1931 - 1984) основан на реальных событиях: в 1805 году Сэйсю Ханаока (1760- 1835) впервые в мире провел операцию под общим наркозом. Открытию обезболивающего снадобья предшествовали десятилетия научных изысканий, в экспериментах участвовали мать и жена лекаря.

У Каэ и Онуги много общего: обе родились в знатных самурайских
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published 2005 by Центрполиграф (first published 1966)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Start your review of Жена лекаря Сэйсю Ханаоки
Ariyoshi is not for me. She writes short novels and -- still -- I am unable to push past the halfway mark. There's no momentum, and the language is serviceable at best. Hence, reading this novel makes me feel as though I am rafting down a river where the water is low and there's no current. I'm deciding to get out now, walk to shore, drag my raft to the car and head elsewhere. Figuratively speaking. ...more
If this book ever became more popular on this site, I'd imagine the rating would tank and the reviews would be choked with mewling and puking about polemics and misandrists and god knows what other instances of fragile masculinity. This is not your Kawabata or your Tanizaki or even your Enchi, but a fictional take on a real historical instance that sacrifices subtlety in order to put forward its critique on its nonfictional origins. Domestic politics, the rights of the patient versus the power o ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, fiction
3.75 stars

I first read Sawako Ariyoshi’s The River Ki (Kodansha 2004) in June last year, this is her second novel I read and found it inspiring due to her powerful narration and lively dialogs that focus on “the life of the first doctor in the world to perform surgery for breast cancer under a general anesthetic” (back cover). From her two novels, I noticed, they primarily don’t suggest romance, ideal or sentimentality; rather they present something social, practical, rural in which her characte
Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Ariyoshi book starts with Kae as a young woman and follows her through the rest of her life, primarily focusing on her marriage to the noted surgeon Hanaoka Seishu. He was a real surgeon in the 18th-century who made his name for, amongst other things, being the first to perform surgery using a general anesthetic, and specifically for using the anesthetic for breast cancer surgery. This fictionalized account of their life together is fascinating not only from a medical standpoint but also fr ...more
Dioni (Bookie Mee)
Mee's rating: 4.5/5

First published at:

My first book of the year is another book club read with the Japanese Lit GR group. Ariyoshi seems to be one of the favourites among the members and the group has read another of her book - The River Ki, which I missed, so this is my first Ariyoshi.

First published in 1966, The Doctor's Wife has quite an amazing premise. The story is based on the life of Hanaoka Seishu (1760-1835), a provincial doctor who invented anae
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find this novel difficult to rate because although the writing leaves something to be desired, especially in the awkwardly preachy final chapter, the material is fascinating. This is the fictionalized story of a remarkable doctor from Wakayama prefecture, the same province where the author hails from. Because of Japan's isolationist policies, Hanaoka Seishu's achievements were virtually unknown outside his country in his lifetime, and by the Meiji era similar advances in anesthesia and surgery ...more
Smitha Murthy
Japanese literature is probably dominated by its male writers. It was with some anticipation that I picked up this offbeat book. Sawako Ariyoshi’s spare and arresting tale, ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ was gripping and revealing. Based on the life of the first doctor in the world to perform surgery for breast cancer, it immediately plunged me into a world of 17th century Japan. And as I so love Japan, how can I not love this book? No one at your bookclub will talk about this book. And you won’t be able t ...more
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The prose was clear and straightforward, similar to a journalistic account. Ariyoshi employs a third-person omniscient approach and to focus on the motivations of the Mother of the house and her Daughter-and-law, who vie with one another for the attentions of the eldest son (and, in the Daughter's case, her husband). Much of the tension in the book draws from the sustained misunderstanding between Mother and Daughter, both of whom take for granted the idea that one is trying to outdo the other.

Chairein Ferras
I like the competition for Hanaoka Seishu's attention and affection between Otsugi (the mother) and Kae (the wife). At first, they were like mother and daughter but as Seishu finishes medical school and comes back from Kyoto, the relationship between Otsugi and Kae starts to fall apart. Seishu discovered the tsusensan, an anesthetic. Before the anesthetic's widespread popularity and efficacy, Seishu had been experimenting on either Otsugi and Kae. It's so funny how Otsugi brags to Kae about bein ...more
Might write a longer review later, but for now: The Doctor's Wife is a great bit of Japanese historical fiction, focusing on the wife of real-life historical figure Hanaoka Seishū (credited as being the first doctor to conduct a surgery under general anesthesia) and her influence on his work. A good portion of the book is dedicated to the relationship between Kae and her mother in law. The book quietly shows what life was like for Japanese women in the late 18th century, without needless drama o ...more
Istvan Zoltan
The book is an account of how Kae, Hanaoka Seishu's wife, and her mother in law played a role in developing the world's first effective anesthetic. Hanaoka Seishu used this anesthetic to perform removal of breast tumors and other difficult surgical procedures which were impossible before.
The book's focus is on the emotional experiences of the women in the Hanaoka family. It portrays how they lived through the time while Seishu experimented for long years on animals, and then eventually on Kae an
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Doctor's Wife" written by Sawako Ariyoshi is a work of historical fiction. I found it to be somewhat interesting. I did not know that Hanaoka Seishu was the "father" of general anesthesia (or at least some consider him to be the father of anesthesia...first surgery performed with tsūsensan in 1804). Being from an anesthesiology department I was always thought it was a Dr. Crawford Long from Georgia (Long used ether for the first time on March 30, 1842, to remove a tumor from the neck of a ...more
A powerful book about two women's fight to gain the attention of one man: a mother-in-law and wife. The secondary story is about one doctor's search for an anaesthetic so he can perform operations, especially for breast cancer. Hanaoka Seishu successfully developed the anaesthetic before the West and used it for the first time to operate on breast cancer. This book does not read like a translation from the original Japanese. It is an easy read and it's simplicity draws you in from the beginning. ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this in both English and Japanese. Its unbelievable, and truly one of those books that will shake your core. If I remember correctly parts of this are based on fact, but its mostly fiction. Still, what the wife and her mother-in-law endure for the love of one man and his mission to improve medical science is unfathomable. Great for those who want to understand more about the plight of women in Japanese society before the turn of the 20th century as well as family life. ...more
Cherise Wolas
Interesting and rather horrifying to read what being a daughter-in-law in Japan in the late 1800s was like. The true part of the story has to do with a Japanese doctor in that time performing the first breast cancer surgery. The rest is a fictionalized view of the household.
Ian Josh
While not my favorite of Ariyoshi's works, still worth a read.

Full Review:

Melody Schwarting
A masterful portrait of the daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship in Confucian society. Kae, a young woman wed to a doctor, is held hostage in a relentless competition with her mother-in-law Otsugi. Based on the true story of a Japanese doctor who became the first in the world to successfully perform surgery for breast cancer, while pioneering general anaesthesia decades before Western medicine, The Doctor's Wife is a compelling psychological novel.

At the center of the story is the rivalry
Eustacia Tan
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is really a short, exquisite piece! The title pretty much tells you who it's about (Kae is the doctor's wife the title refers to), but there are two main characters. One is her mother-in-law, Otsugi, whom she initially admires and has a close relationship too, and the other one is her husband, Seishu.

So basically Kae has admired Otsugi since she was a little girl, and was thrilled when she was invited to be her daughter-in-law. The two had a close relationship until Seishu came back fr
Grada (BoekenTrol)
The book was already sitting on my shelves for a long time, before I got to read it. As it sometimes goes, it seemed a very interesting book to me, so I bought it. And then I did not read it, up to now.

And I was impressed. Impressed by the story itself that is about a doctor's family that denies herself everything to make it possible for the son, Unpei, to study medicine. About the indefatigable quest of that country doctor for further ways and means to heal the sick. At first by bringing just t
Sawako Ariyoshi's The Doctor's Wife was enjoyable in that it was simply written whether that's due to Ariyoshi's writing or the way it was translated, either way it was a quick and smooth read.

The narrative of The Doctor's Wife consists of two intertwined parts. The first part, mostly factual, is over how Hanaoka Seishu was able to concoct an anesthetic and how he was the first to be successful in surgically removing a tumor caused by breast cancer. The second part, mostly fictional, revealed th
Pixie Dust
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is a fictionalised account of the household of Hanaoka Seishu, the first surgeon in the world to successfully administer general anaesthesia to perform an operation. It was an absorbing read, not just the parts on how Seishu gradually through experimentation developed the formula for anaesthesia, but also the parts depicting the rivalry between Seishu’s wife Kae and his mother Otsugi (which I found out upon googling was fictional), all told with the traditional Japanese restraint and ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brief at around 170 pages, but still felt detailed. I have to admit, I generally don’t read or enjoy books set so far back in the past, but I do enjoy books set in Japan, so seemed worth a try.
The story is beautifully told, but it is quite grim. I believe it’s loosely based on a real life doctor who experimented on his wife and mother to find a useable anesthetic.
I found the relationship between Kae and her mother in law both relatable and confusing. Why did she pursue Kae for her precious son
Chris Plante
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish Sawako Ariyoshi was better know in the States. Her style is accessible and smooth, like a good summer read, but her plots and themes are deceptively rich.

The Doctor's Wife is superficially speaking about the fractured relationship between a wife and her mother-in-law as they claw for the attention of the man who serves respectively as husband and son. But the meat on these bones is a slow-burn critique of the patriarchy, one that demythologizes both the invention of general anesthesia and
I'm still not sure how Ms. Ariyoshi managed to cram so much life into such a small book.

Based on the true story of the first person to come up with reliable surgery anesthesia - decades before someone in the West came up with the same - this novel seems to say more in one page than other books say in chapters.

It's based on the historical figure Seishu Hanaoka but it's really all about the relationship between his young wife and his mother and the mostly unknown contribution (and sacrifice) they
Dr. Hanaoka Seishu (1760-1835) was the first in the world to operate a patient under a general anesthetic (in 1804), with techniques which go back to both Dutch and Chinese medicine. Ariyoshi studied his personal papers for her novel, but the famous doctor is not the main character in the book: that is firstly his wife Kae, and after that his mother Otsugi. The rivalry between these two women for his attention is central to the novel and propels the story forward. While he is still developing th ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Don't you think men are incredible? It seems that an intelligent person like my brother would have noticed the friction between you and mother.. but throughout he shrewdly pretended he didn't see anything.. which resulted in both you and mother drinking the medicine. Well, isn't it so? I think this sort of of tension among females is to the advantages of every male.."

The Doctor's Wife (華岡青洲の妻) tells the story of Hanaoka Seishu, based on actual life of the great doctor with a dramatic, fiction e
Blair Reeve
Jun 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel set in the Tokugawa era of Japan. One of the author's main motivations for this book may have been to right an historical wrong - that is, to show the story behind the story of Hanaoka Seishu, one of the first doctors in the world to operate on breast cancer using an anesthetic. This story adds to the largely untold story of the women of the Tokugawa period. It's an easy but never boring read. The crux of the novel rests on a daughter and mother-in-law who argue in front of their husband ...more
Diego Munoz
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book.

It is the story of the wife of the first doctor to have ever performed open surgery sing anesthesia. What makes it interesting is the relationship between the wife and the mother in law, and about how they compete to help the doctor.

The last couple of chapters provide a lot of insight, and made me appreciate the book even more.

Strange to compare, but like Gatsby, I felt that this book was much better after I finished it, and I could appreciate it as a whole work and statement
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an impressive historical fiction, interesting under many angles : psychological insights, historical knowledge of late 18th/early 19th century of rural japan, history of medicine, japanese culture, all that in a literary beautiful form, engaging from the first till the last page. And on top in a very compact way, Ariyoshi does not need 500 pages to bring her message, incredibly concise though great depth.
This was a magnificent reading experience.
Paul Lemcke
A true story of the world's first use of general anesthetic by a surgeon operating on a breast cancer patient in early 1800's. Written as a novel, we learn about the surgeon's mother and wife competing for his attention (and just about everything), including the opportunity to be the first to go under general anesthesia. The conflicts within the family, and the women's desire to be the strongest and bravest, were interesting in that time of the samurai. ...more
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Japanese Literature: 1/18 The Doctor's Wife - Sawako Ariyoshi 25 66 Feb 22, 2018 09:13AM  

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Born in Wakayama City and a graduate of Tokyo Women's Christian College, Sawako Ariyoshi spent part of her childhood in Java. A prolific novelist, she dramatises significant issues in her fiction such as the suffering of the elderly, the effects of pollution on the environment, and the effects of social and political change on Japanese domestic life and values, especially on the lives of women. He ...more

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