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House of the Sleeping Beauties by Yasunari…

House of the Sleeping Beauties (1961)

by Yasunari Kawabata

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3731329,015 (3.76)2



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http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11902434 ( )
  natassAki | Aug 16, 2013 |
A beautiful, if eerie, exploration of a sixty-seven year old man's struggle to come to terms with the inevitability and imminence of death. It may be that the entire novella plays with the double entendre of "to die" as an expression of sex, as Eguchi attempts to assure himself that he is not yet as senile nor as impotent as the 'other old men' who frequent the "house of the sleeping beauties." The middle-aged woman of the house, notably neither young nor old, instructs him on his first visit to "listen to the wind and the waves," and with each subsequent visit, as his inner turmoil begins to calm, the roaring wind and crashing waves give way to "the first drops of rain on the quiet sea" and, later, "light wind and fallen leaves" before finally becoming white drops of sleet on fallen snow. The sleeping girls call to mind not only the women in Eguchi's past, but also the 'petal-dropping camellia' and orchids, even as he strives to reassure himself of the cleanliness and purity of current and past encounters.
The work is very sensual with the sleeping girls and the environment described through color, smell, texture, taste, and of course the sound of the wind and the waves. However repulsive the context of an old man paying to spend the night with naked girls in a sleep like death, the stunning beauty of the writing lulls you into the crimson room and keeps you, like Eguchi, returning.
LIke the wind and the waves, and like the sleep that resembles death, everything seems to function on more than a surface level and by the end, one may question whether Eguchi is as virile and free of senility as he claims, and the middle-aged procuress begins to resemble a conscience rather than a reality.

In my opinion, a hauntingly beautiful work. ( )
  TigerMc | Mar 9, 2011 |
I really liked Kawabata's 'Snow Country' and so I was really excited about reading this novella. But wow, was I disappointed!

I really have no problem with 'morality' issues (or lack of) in arts, as long as the artwork is interesting, thought-provoking. But this book was simply disgusting. Not disturbing, simply disgusting.
I take no pleasure in reading about an ageing man that fears he will soon be unable to have erections, and even less reading about one who thinks of himself as 'superior' because he is 'actually' still able to have one by sleeping next to a naked young girl.
And the part where he described the 14 year old prostitute (this one not asleep) he once paid for just made me mad.

'Shocking or not' question aside, this book simply fails to explore it's themes in interesting ways. As hard as I tried to understand even a tad bit the hero, this book ended up just making me read faster to get over with it as soon as possible.

If you really want to understand Kawabata's genius, I recommend 'Snow Country', and I recommend you ignore 'House of the Sleeping Beauties'.
Hey, 125 pages *is* short, but how many awesome Yukio Mishima short stories can you fit in that many pages? ( )
  roulette.russe | Jan 18, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yasunari Kawabataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mishima, YukioContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teti, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Scherzi di cattivo genere, non fatene; e neppure sta bene infilare le dita nella bocca delle ragazze che dormono"
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