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Review – Beauty and Sadness April 11, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Foreign, Literature.
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Beauty and Sadness

by Yasunari Kawabata

 The successful writer Oki has reached middle age and is filled with regrets. He returns to Kyoto to find Otoko, a young woman with whom he had a terrible affair many years before, and discovers that she is now a painter, living with a younger woman as her lover. Otoko has continued to love Oki and has never forgotten him, but his return unsettles not only her but also her young lover.

This story permeates with sadness. Like a Greek tragedy, it’s sadness is beautiful in of itself.

The characters are poised with bittersweet longings and with bitterness that seems to poison their very souls. You feel like they want to move on, yet there’s a decided inertia which is a part of the tragedy.

The young Keiko is hell bent on revenge for the sake of her love Otoko. This is despite Otoko’s protestations. This becomes a tragedy as well.

The book was so extremely well written it was easy to get wrapped up in the tale, but it was also pretty intense. I had to put it down every chapter or so to absorb what I had read and let it soak in. This was definitely not a light beach going read.

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