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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
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Memoirs of a Geisha (original 1997; edition 2005)

by Arthur Golden

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29,19746731 (4.01)461
Member:donan
Title:Memoirs of a Geisha
Authors:Arthur Golden
Info:Vintage (2005), Edition: Film Tie-in Ed, Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:winter 2013

Work details

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (1997)

Recently added byprivate library, BethanyRuark, Jayfeather55, optpriimemus, ainjel, LitaVore
  1. 170
    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. 184
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See (goodiegoodie)
  3. 62
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (caflores)
  4. 40
    Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Beautifully written story of a geisha who fares better than Sayo Masuda.
  5. 51
    Empress Orchid by Anchee Min (krizia_lazaro)
  6. 20
    Geisha in Rivalry by Nagai Kafu (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)
  7. 20
    Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner (Catt172)
  8. 31
    Geisha by Liza Dalby (SqueakyChu, MartinRohrbach, Leishai)
    Leishai: Ein gutes Buch für Europäer oder Amerikaner zum Verständnis der japanischen Geisha-Kultur.
  9. 20
    The pillow book by Sei Shonagon (brightbel)
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» See also 461 mentions

English (442)  Spanish (10)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  Italian (1)  All (1)  Finnish (1)  All (464)
Showing 1-5 of 442 (next | show all)
A truly extraordinary book and one told with knowledge, a little sympathy, and a lot of insight into this world. And it is its own world, with schools, okiya where the geisha and their maids live, ceremonies and rituals, and beautifully embroidered kimonos. The character interactions show the universality of humans and to know that bullying goes on everywhere was a healing touch for me. Highly recommend, and one I immersed myself into. ( )
  threadnsong | Apr 25, 2017 |
Now known by her geisha name, Sayuri tells a story of her childhood in her tipsy house; of friends and a certain enemy within the okiya; her struggles; of being a geisha before and after the second world war; of love, and her life after her days of being a geisha were over.

At nine years old Chiyo is taken from her family and everything she has ever known and is sold to an okiya in the most prominent geisha district in Kyoto. After years of rebelling, being in trouble and being a maid she breaks down in the street and is comforted by a kind man simply known to her as the Chairman. She donates the money he has given her to a shrine in Gion, praying to become a geisha in the hopes of seeing him again one day.

After hard work, dedication, and thoughts of the Chairman, Chiyo not only goes on to become a geisha, but one of the most well-known geisha in Kyoto. ( )
  jenn88 | Apr 25, 2017 |
I liked this novel at the time I read it, but not passionately. I think now I'd have a lot to say about Orientalism and white male fantasies and it would probably make it uncomfortable. A lot of the images have stuck with me, but I think they are also misrepresentations. I think the images stuck because they are white invention and fantasy.
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Quite a feat of historical immersion, conjuring up the world of a Kyoto geisha in the 1930s. But the tone fell somewhat flat for me, a methodical plodding from event to description to event with little liveliness or poetry. There's also a Dickensian/romance novel theme throughout: will the heroine find true love with her beloved Chairman, for whom she pines for about 400 pages? Guess. A pleasant read, but not my taste in historical fiction. ( )
  adzebill | Feb 19, 2017 |
Un de smeilleurs livres que j'ai lu. J'ai reussi à être emporté dans un japon où la culture occidentale commencée à être incorporé et où, malgré tout, certaines traditions ancestrales ont été gardées. La vie des geishas est merveilleusement bien décrite, et on s'attache rapidement au personnage principal. ( )
1 vote AmelLou | Jan 18, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 442 (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.
 
Quite a feat of historical immersion, conjuring up the world of a Kyoto geisha in the 1930s. But the tone fell somewhat flat for me, a methodical plodding from event to description to event with little liveliness or poetry. There's also a Dickensian/romance novel theme throughout: will the heroine find true love with her beloved Chairman, for whom she pines for about 400 pages? Guess. A pleasant read, but not my taste in historical fiction.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Golden, Arthurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cobb, JodiCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Wilde, BarbaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stege, GiselaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weinstein, IrisDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
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People/Characters
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Epigraph
[None]
Dedication
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)
Quotations
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:27 -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 13 descriptions

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