Thursday, January 8, 2009

Japanese tranquility

A curtain of rain, dense cedar forests, tiny villages—ah, Japanese stories make me tranquil.

If a writer lives in a quiet, solitary place high up in the mountains where he sees early morning mists covering the mountains when he wakes up in the morning, it's not surprising that the serenity hovering around him would reflect in his writing.

Yasunari Kawabata must've lived like that—in peace and quiet where he could hear his own thoughts as loud as the chirping of a bird nearby.



My speculations may be wrong, but “The Dancing Girl of Izu,” his short story and one of the most enduring works of Japanese literature, gave me just that: a moment of peace.

It's a story of a young man who follows a group of itinerant performers from village to village. After some time, he eventually gets to know them. He falls in love with a little girl, the one who dances to the beat of the drums. The man is filled with longing for her, that which borders on anxiety—“to be loved and to love what may be unattainable.”

The short story reflects the main themes that would occupy this Nobel laureate's later works. It also bears the writer's style which he is known for: brevity.

I appreciate how Kawabata weaves his story with the fewest words possible without compromising, even for a bit, the complexity and depth of his ideas.

A master with words, Kawabata writes stories that probably take less than an hour to read but, beware—they stick to your memory for weeks.

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Available online for free: The Master of Funerals, the second story in the collection. I am just blown away.

6 comments:

  1. Where did you get a photo of the Lantana park? I miss Lolo Polding. :D

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  2. I really love your photos :) And I can lend you my Pamuk books. Mike T. has "Snow" by Pamuk. That's an easier read compared to "The Black Book" hehe.

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  3. I've seen your photo blog, too! You're doing a neat job there!

    I'll borrow Snow from him if he's done with it already! Thanks Razeru!

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  4. Manong, that was taken during the Christmas 2006 (I think). Miss him, too.

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  5. I think I've read too much books in highschool so I considered stopping na heheh

    Stay HAPPY and SMILE! Drop by http://www.kumagcow.com and http://techcow.blogspot.com thanks! :)

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  6. Books are something I can never get enough of, kumagcow. I encourage you to read some more! I'm sure there are a lot of good books still out there! ;)

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