T.J.'s Reviews > Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
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Damn if you aren't one of the most problematic things I've ever read, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Like much of non-Asian America, I was swept up in the delight of reading this book in 2000. I was fifteen and precocious, and the narrative was arresting. I couldn't put the book down. I wrote this in 2000:

"Golden has hit pay dirt with this masterpiece. An insightful, curious, and caring look into the mysterious world of geisha, Arthur Golden peels away the ignorance and labeling that westerners have covered the secretive Japanese profession. Although it sinks at times into a near melodramatic prose, the book's protagonist is interesting, insightful, and enjoyable. Her witty anecdotes and thoughtful mannerisms in speaking make Memoirs of a Geisha a delightful and unstoppable read."

Then I got older, went to college and graduate school, and developed a critical, thinking eye.

And I'm mad at myself.

insightful? Really? God, I was naive. This novel, while entertaining is so problematic I rarely have time to descend into my criticism. It continues the Orientalism that Edward Said loathed so very much; rather than "skillfully entering" the world of a Japanese woman, it apes her identity, and ultimately deprives her of a voice, creating a sort of Orientalist imagination for us to enjoy without ever really seeing her. The book is still engaging as a narrative, but the sappy ending, the frankly sexist portrayals at some points, and Sayuri's outright inability to identify outside of her Chairman is rather frightening. It serves to objectify fetishism at its worst. Yet I can only give you three stars, because I'm still partly under your spell, Golden. Damn.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 15, 2000 – Finished Reading
May 13, 2008 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by Jackboy (last edited Jul 14, 2010 05:28AM) (new)

Jackboy Each legend will fade over time, each will have a strong bitterness behind the setbacks, the reason is because the know how to live free and easy choice, indifference is the reason why it all came to a realization. Please do not re-obsessed with me I am only a legend, although I was reluctant, but I still say that you still remember me even though I was wandering, I'm never lonely - because of the lonely Stay with me.

This is a fairy tale, this article from 传奇世界私服

Marcie Your review caught my attention. Though I am fond of this book, I think you articulated some points that have been nagging at the back of my brain for awhile now. I'm now curious about reading Said's book. Have you ever read any of the works by Lisa See? If so, do you see some of the same flaws in her writing as well?

T.J. Marcie wrote: "Your review caught my attention. Though I am fond of this book, I think you articulated some points that have been nagging at the back of my brain for awhile now. I'm now curious about reading Sa..."

I've not read Lisa See, but is there something of hers you'd recommend I read?

Maureen I really relate to this review. I was even the same age when I read the novel! I adored it then, but thinking back on it I feel ashamed of my enjoyment. I think if I reread it today I would be writing angry comments all over the margins. But still, I have such a positive emotional response when I think of the book....

Jill Lisa see is a fun read and addresses more political issues. She is a novelist however unlike Edward said. Who I would call a political scientist maybe. Or an intellectual . I liked See's Shanghai Girls but there some hard to believe plot lines and gaps as well.

A.H. Haar Wow this is exactly how I felt when I read the book when I was fifteen. I haven't revisited it, but I'm sure this is how I'll feel. Thanks for sharing.

Izzy Shows Ah, this review is exactly how I feel about it. I read it when I was between middle school and high school and just could not put it down, Sayuri's life was so enchanting. But having grown up, and knowing the opinion of the geisha Golden interviewed, I can't look at it in the same way. I frequently don't talk about having enjoyed the book, because of that.

Jade Bull I completely agree.

Ashling Plunkett This is exactly how I feel. ADORED the book as a teenager but just re-read it and yeah...so problematic. The writing is worse than I remember too

Jeffrey Gao True except that Arthur Golden is in no way a good writer.

message 11: by Esme (new) - added it

Esme What age group would this book be in?

Jeffrey Gao Esme wrote: "What age group would this book be in?"
17 and up or so.

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