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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha (original 1997; edition 2005)

by Arthur Golden

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
27,29142936 (4.01)420
Title:Memoirs of a Geisha
Authors:Arthur Golden
Info:Vintage (2005), Edition: Film Tie-in Ed, Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Tags:geisha, Japan, war, life, belonging

Work details

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (1997)

Recently added byINorris, private library, Cadiva, Rob.Larson, JudyCalhoun, MistahKurtz, DawnAndrews
  1. 150
    Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki (Leishai, sbuehrle)
    Leishai: Arthur Golden schrieb einen Roman über Geishas. Mineko Iwasaki war die Geiko, die er dafür interviewte. Sie stellt in ihrem Buch alles richtig, was er sich zu dramatischen Zwecken zurechtgeschnitten hat.
    sbuehrle: I would recommend reading these books back-to-back. Memoirs of a Geisha is the fictional account of Iwasaki's life, whereas Geisha: A Life is the autobiographical response.
  2. 164
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (goodiegoodie)
  3. 51
    Empress Orchid by Anchee Min (krizia_lazaro)
  4. 52
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (caflores)
  5. 20
    Geisha in Rivalry by Kafu Nagai (normandie_m)
    normandie_m: Set slightly earlier and in Tokyo, but also worth reading for exploring the relationship dynamics between geisha and their patrons, who come from a variety of different backgrounds. Also offers insight into the relationships/friendships between the different geisha.… (more)
  6. 31
    Geisha by Liza Dalby (SqueakyChu, MartinRohrbach, Leishai)
    Leishai: Ein gutes Buch für Europäer oder Amerikaner zum Verständnis der japanischen Geisha-Kultur.
  7. 20
    Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Beautifully written story of a geisha who fares better than Sayo Masuda.
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» See also 420 mentions

English (406)  Spanish (9)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (427)
Showing 1-5 of 406 (next | show all)
between 2 and 2.5. i'm surprised at how difficult this book was for me. the writing is good, but it's not a style that i enjoy, even though i liked the fictional "translator's note" at the beginning and thought that was a nice touch. but this was so hard for me to get into. it was over 100 pages before it started moving at all and over halfway through before i cared even a little about the characters or what was going to happen. once i cared, it became more interesting, which is why this gets this many stars at all. but i never really liked it all that much and was pretty uncomfortable the entire time with the way the author basically romanticized the practice of what boils down to being an escort and sometimes prostituted woman/girl. it was obvious that these girls and women had no other option (this is clearly stated more than once by the women themselves) and i don't find anything quaint about selling your children into that kind of life or about middle aged men bidding against each other to see who "wins" getting to take the virginity of a 15 year old girl, who has been groomed for this since she was a little kid. i also had a real problem with the way sayuri betrayed nobu, and the entire idea that the chairman even cared, much less made her his mistress was over the top for me. i did like learning a little about life in that area in that time, something i really didn't come to the book with much knowledge of.

"...and really, she seemed to regard her hair the way a train regards its smokestack: it was just the thing that happened to be on top." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Mar 18, 2015 |
It's been a while since I read this book, but it was awesom. I may have to pull it out again and re-read it. ( )
  TW_Spencer | Feb 17, 2015 |
What did I just read??
( )
  AshuritaLove | Feb 11, 2015 |
I loved this book!
5 Bullet Point Review:

-I listened to the unabridged audio version. This may be significant because..
-When I mentioned that I was reading it, a few educated, well-read female friends of mine (who don't know each other BTW) said exactly the same thing - that they just couldn't get through it and gave up early on.
-For teacher friends - there are about 4-5 PG-13 sex scenes. Nothing graphic - but enough to make me decide not to use it with students. Would be fine with mature juniors and seniors.
-Don't read about the background of the book and the related controversies while you are reading it. It will detract from your enjoyment. But definitely check them out when you are finished. Interesting stuff.
-I found the book very Dickensian in structure - orphan-like protagonist who struggles against impossible odds, encounters a series of villains and benefactors, and enjoys bittersweet success at the end.
-Some of the things I learned about Japanese culture intrigued me and others repulsed me. Since this is only one book and my first exposure to the culture, I was inspired by this book to read and learn more about Japanese history and culture.
-Author over-used similes. It wasn't too bad at first, but groan-inducing by the end. It was like being pummeled with a wiffle-ball bat. ;P

I have the DVD of the film on my nightstand and will update this review after watching it.
( )
  Scarchin | Jan 24, 2015 |
Alguns meses após o empréstimo deste livro iniciei a sua leitura. Tenho que confessar que estava cheia de ideias pré-concebidas sobre ele, como acontece com todas as obras de grande sucesso, e por isso receava que fosse uma leitura "secante" ou "moralista" ou simplesmente má. Nada disso. Adorei esta história, que me agarrou logo nos primeiros parágrafos. Toda a narrativa está povoada de imagens lindíssimas de Kimonos, maquilhagem, danças, música, do bairro de Gion, das casas de chá, do mar. E por ser descrito na primeira pessoa, parece que vimos tudo através dos bonitos olhos azuis de Chiyo / Sayuiri. A sua história, desde menina até aos capítulos finais é um rol de tragédias e dificuldades ultrapassadas. Sofremos com ela todos os castigos, gozamos com ela todos os momentos felizes. Só houve uma altura em que a história me desagradou, em que Sayuri já sendo gueixa, era tão passiva e submissa. Sei que esta minha "comichão" deve-se às diferenças culturais entre mim e ela, no entanto não me deixou de irritar que, com o exemplo de tantas mulheres inteligentes e autónomas, Sayuri parecia tão submissa a todos os que a rodeavam. Tirando isso, é um livro encantador que oferece uma montanha-russa de sentimentos para experimentar, um buffet de imagens para digerir e um olhar para um mundo especial só de mulheres.

Expectativa e estado de espírito: Foi bom ver as minhas ideias pré-concebidas caírem por terra e descobrir um mundo fascinante e bem construído. O meu estado de espírito também melhorou bastante com este livro, dava por mim a pensar nele quando não o estava a ler e a desejar regressar à sua leitura o mais depressa possível.

Pontos positivos: As descrições, principalmente dos kimonos. Todo o vocabulário japonês integrado no texto. O desenrolar da história.

Pontos Negativos: A passividade de Sayuri.

Fez-me reflectir sobre: O papel submisso da mulher na sociedade japonesa. Compra e venda de seres humanos. Aparências e conceito de belo.

[Ler e Reflectir...] Memórias de uma Gueixa ( )
  tchetcha | Jan 15, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 406 (next | show all)
Golden fills the book with vivid images and subtle descriptions of the nuances of Japanese culture, and is absolutely brilliant in his description of the customs and rituals of the geisha. Through the meticulous detail the reader can fully understand the politics, rivalries, and traditions of the Japan geisha society.
added by mikeg2 | editCNN, Ann Hastings (May 25, 1998)
Mr. Golden gives us not only a richly sympathetic portrait of a woman, but also a finely observed picture of an anomalous and largely vanished world. He has made an impressive and unusual debut.
Haarhuis's foreword and Golden's epilogue, the one appropriating the guise of a novel and the other taking it off, suggest an author who is of two minds when it comes to his work. It is not surprising, then, if his readers share this uncertainty. The decision to write an autobiographically styled novel rather than a nonfiction portrait is most obviously justified in terms of empathy, of allowing greater freedom to explore the geisha's inner life. Unfortunately, Sayuri's personality seems so familiar it is almost generic; she is not so much an individual as a faultless arrangement of feminine virtues.

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur Goldenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cobb, JodiCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my wife, Trudy,
and my children, Hays and Tess
First words
One evening in the spring of 1936, when I was a boy of fourteen, my father took me to a dance performance in Kyoto.

Translator's note.
Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, 'That afternoon when I met so-and-so ... was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon.'

Chapter one.
Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be. -Nitta Sayuri
We none of us find as much kindness in this world as we should. -Chairman Iwamura
A balance of good and bad can open the door to destiny.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
A seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, that tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan's most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha - dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679781587, Paperback)

The first thing you notice about the audio version of Memoirs of a Geisha is that Arthur Golden's 428-page novel has been reduced to a scant two cassettes. But dismay quickly gives way to mounting pleasure as Elaina Erika Davis (Contact, As the World Turns) begins her delicate rendering of geisha culture in the years before World War II. Davis reads the abbreviated story of Sayuri with an authentic-sounding Japanese accent--one mixed with a magical combination of Asian reserve and theatrical energy. As Sayuri ages from a 9-year-old peasant girl to a popular geisha in her late 20s, Davis directs her voice gently away from curious youth to a tone that reflects Sayuri's uphill life.

From start to finish, the listener is absorbed in the elegant spirit of Davis's performance, eager to hear the next chapter of Sayuri's transformation into one of the most famous geishas of the century. How unfortunate, then, to learn that book readers not only get the basic story, but a fascinating look at the intricate rules and rituals of geisha culture. Here, for example, is one of the many revelations omitted from the cassette: "Japanese men, as a rule, feel about a woman's neck and throat the same way that men in the West might feel about a woman's legs.... In fact, a geisha leaves a tiny margin of skin bare all around the hairline, causing her makeup to look even more artificial.... When a man sits beside her, he becomes that much more aware of the bare skin beneath."

We're also denied several subplots--the aborted friendship between Sayuri and a geisha named Pumpkin, for example, or much of the story involving the man Sayuri is secretly in love with. But what remains is as precious as a traditional Japanese kimono--at once artistic, suggestive, and moving. --Ann Senechal

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:46 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Because her mother is dying and her father old, Chiyo, nine, is sold to a wealthy geisha house in Gion where she learns her trade and works it in the 1930s and 1940s.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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