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An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo…
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An Artist of the Floating World (1986)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,145553,044 (3.83)214
  1. 30
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (bibliobibuli, browner56)
    browner56: The consequences of misguided devotion treated from both the British and Japanese perspectives.
  2. 20
    A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (bibliobibuli)
  3. 10
    The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro (Booksloth)
  4. 00
    American Pastoral by Philip Roth (ateolf)
  5. 00
    The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (bibliobibuli)
    bibliobibuli: The Gift of Rain was greatly influenced by this book.
  6. 00
    The Sportswriter by Richard Ford (ateolf)
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» See also 214 mentions

English (52)  Greek (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this short early novel by Ishiguro. It is a quiet book, not that much action, but beautiful in its way. I'm not sure how I feel about unreliable narrators in general, but Ishiguro does them very well and this book is no exception. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
A blurb on the back calls this book "courtly and precise." I agree, but also found it a little lifeless and dull. It did open a world to me that I had never considered, though.

I think the best thing about it is the title. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
This is story about a change in cultural attitudes. After World War II many things are different for artist Masuji Ono. At the very simplest, his grandson idolizes the Lone Ranger and Godzilla instead of ancient emperors. At the most complicated, Masuji's art is not received as it once was. His war efforts are not as admirable and are now making it difficult for his youngest daughter, nearly a spinster at twenty-six, to get married. Ono does what he can to eliminate "bad interviews" when the detectives investigate the family. But, as one former acquaintance remarks, "I realize there are not those who would condemn the likes of you and me for the very things we were once proud to have achieved" (p 94). Ono's past is a heavy threat to the happiness of his daughter's future. Throughout the story there is the theme of bondage. The conversations are retrained. The delicate relationships are bound by decorum. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 29, 2014 |
Masuji Ono, retired and living in Japan shortly after the end of World War II, is reflecting on the course of his life. Once a celebrated painter who devoted his art to the imperialist regime before and during the war, he is now largely disgraced and blamed for his role in supporting a losing cause. Spending most of his days repairing his bomb-ravaged home on the outskirts of the “floating world” pleasure district, Ono’s thoughts lead him on a difficult emotional journey from outright denial to acceptance of the cost that his actions have imposed on his family, his colleagues, and his country.

An Artist of the Floating World is a beautifully written book with prose so subtle and delicate that it is easy for the reader to lose track of the powerful themes it explores. Who bears the responsibility for the consequences of misplaced loyalty? Do sons and daughters inevitably pay for the past sins of their parents? How do we reconcile the internal conflict between the desire to pursue both pleasure and higher meaning in our lives? Ishiguro does a brilliant job of addressing these issues while evoking the details of a long-forgotten era. While not as compelling as the author’s more celebrated The Remains of the Day, reading this novel was a highly rewarding experience nonetheless. ( )
2 vote browner56 | Oct 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
In the second novel, An Artist of the Floating World, the teacher of discredited values is the narrator and main character. Mr. Ono is a retired painter and art master, and as in A Pale View of Hills, the story bobs about between reminiscences of different periods of the hero's life. Not that Mr. Ono is a hero: in fact, he is the least admirable and sympathetic of Ishiguro's chief characters, an opportunist and timeserver, adapting his views and even his artistic style to the party in power. So it comes that in the Thirties he deserts his first, westernizing master of painting for the strict, old-fashioned style and patriotic content of the imperialist, propaganda art.
 
It is not unusual to find new novels by good writers, novels with precise wording, witty phrases, solid characterizations, scenes that engage. Good writers abound - good novelists are very rare. Kazuo Ishiguro is that rarity. His second novel, ''An Artist of the Floating World,'' is the kind that stretches the reader's awareness, teaching him to read more perceptively.
 
The year 1945, like 1830 and 1914, now seems a natural watershed – above all in countries which experienced national defeat, social upheaval and military occupation. An Artist of the Floating World, a beautiful and haunting novel by the author of A Pale View of the Hills, consists of the rambling reminiscences of a retired painter set down at various dates in the Japan of the late Forties. Americanisation is in full swing, national pride has been humbled, and the horror of the bombed cities and the loss of life is beginning to be counted. The young soldiers who came back from the war are turning into loyal corporation men, eager to forget the Imperial past and to dedicate the remainder of their lives to resurgent capitalism. Ishiguro’s narrator, Masuji Ono, has lost his wife and son but lives on with two daughters, one of whom is married. Were it not for his anxieties over his second daughter’s marriage negotiations, Ono could be left to subside into the indolence of old age. As it is, ‘certain precautionary steps’ must be taken against the investigations to be pursued, as a matter of course, by his prospective son-in-law. The past has its guilty secrets which Ono must slowly and reluctantly bring back to consciousness.
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kazuo Ishiguroprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Broek, C.A.G. van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my parents
First words
If on a sunny day you climb the steep path leading up from the little wooden bridge still referred to around here as ‘the Bridge of Hesitation’, you will not have to walk far before the roof of my house becomes visible between the tops of two gingko trees.
Quotations
If one has failed only where others have not had the courage or will to try, there is a consolation—indeed, a deep satisfaction—to be gained from this observation when looking back over one’s life. (Masuji Ono)
And yet we allow our people to grow more and more desperate, our little children die of malnutrition. Meanwhile, the businessmen get richer and the politicians forever make excuses and chatter. Can you imagine any of the Western powers allowing such a situation? (Matsuda)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Set in post-World War II Japan, the novel is narrated by Masuji Ono, an aging painter, who looks back on his life and how he has lived it. He notices how his once great reputation has faltered since the war and how attitudes towards him and his paintings have changed. The chief conflict deals with Ono's need to accept responsibility for his past actions. The novel attempts to ask and answer the question: what is man's role in a rapidly changing environment?
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679722661, Paperback)

In An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro offers readers of the English language an authentic look at postwar Japan, "a floating world" of changing cultural behaviors, shifting societal patterns and troubling questions. Ishiguro, who was born in Nagasaki in 1954 but moved to England in 1960, writes the story of Masuji Ono, a bohemian artist and purveyor of the night life who became a propagandist for Japanese imperialism during the war. But the war is over. Japan lost, Ono's wife and son have been killed, and many young people blame the imperialists for leading the country to disaster. What's left for Ono? Ishiguro's treatment of this story earned a 1986 Whitbread Prize.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

World War II is over and Japan sets about rebuilding her shattered cities. Masuji Ono, an ageing painter, looks back over his life and assesses a career that coincided with the rise of Japanese militarism.

» see all 3 descriptions

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