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An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo…

An Artist of the Floating World (1986)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,608722,296 (3.83)303
Recently added bymassasoit, marcorel, BLyda97112, johntgriffin, jhhymas, private library, augustgarage, rshart3, urania1, anicat
Legacy LibrariesGillian Rose
  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. 10
    The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (bibliobibuli)
    bibliobibuli: The Gift of Rain was greatly influenced by this book.
  5. 00
    American Pastoral by Philip Roth (ateolf)
  6. 00
    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (sturlington)
  7. 01
    The Sportswriter by Richard Ford (ateolf)

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» See also 303 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Floating world refers to the world where pleasure is sought i.e. wine, women. Ishiguro leads you on through the protagonist's daughters to find out what happened in the protagonist's past that might affect his daughter's marriage. Ishiguro was never explicit, and the reader has to infer. Curiously, his daughters denied towards the end of the story ever to have alluded to this darkness in their father's life. What is for sure, the story is only seen through the protagonist's eyes and you need to take everything he says with a pinch of salt. ( )
  siok | Aug 5, 2017 |
The gradual revelation of a retired artist's life in postwar Japan. The reader comes to understand his strained relationships with family and former friends and colleagues. So self-unaware. ( )
  quiBee | May 25, 2017 |
Ishiguro is one of the true champions of the English language. Few modern writers can produce more beautiful fiction and see the beauty in smaller things than he does. In An Artist of the Floating World he introduces us for the first time to his country of birth, Japan, It is hard to believe Ishiguro has lived most of his life away from Japan, because in this book one can smell and see and hear and feel Japan in every page. All characters feel like real people. Masuji Ono tells the story, as he wants it to be told, the story of dealing with loss, going from being the victor to being the loser. The novel is set right after World War II, during the Allied occupation after the capitulation. It is touching, funny and gentle, although a bit slow and lingering at times. ( )
  petterw | Jan 30, 2017 |
Very disappointing. Annoying style of storytelling giving the reader small bits of information in a very artificial way. The unreliable narrators thoughts meander through his memories which as he continues to stress may be confused. Rather predictable as well. Monotonous as the type of narrative repeats itself over and over again. The intermezzos with the grandson are all too sweet and pleasing. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
This is a beautifully written novel filled with pathos and written with immaculate prose that describes accurately not only Japan and not only the Japanese character but also the post-WW2 Japanese character. Having lived there for 6 years until 2004 and just come back from a two week trip down memory lane there this summer, it was a perfect time to read it.

While living in Japan, I read voraciously anything I could get hold of regarding not just the Japanese involvement in WW2 but how society dealt with the aftermath. In many cases, it was typically Japanese for most people to deal with it by, well, not dealing with it in any way at all.

Artist places you firmly in the mindset of Masuji Ono an artist who, by the 1950s of the novel, is in his dotage having lost his wife and son in the closing stages of the war. He lives in a house still damaged by the bombing with his memories for company. What he doesn’t live with is any regret for the part he played. If he regrets anything, it’s that post-war society has either indifference at best or downright hostility at worst towards him for the role he regards as heroically patriotic.

Gradually, you piece together his history, but it takes the entire novel to do so. Thus, Ishiguro has taken exquisite care to reveal only the more disturbing sides of Ono once you have already bonded with him. As it should, this gives the novel an unsettling feel and causes you to question your own relationship to him.

Ishiguro here has masterfully taken us into an era where Japan was waking up each morning and, no matter how beautiful a day it was, the nation found itself weighed down with a horrendous legacy it could not shake. Against that backdrop, he reveals the innermost thoughts of a man who is not only unrepentant but even still proud of his involvement. Ishiguro has forced us to decide how to face individuals like him.

We can be thankful that the Masuji Onos of Japan have pretty much all perished. But there are still plenty of others elsewhere who walk the earth with ideologies that have gone out of favour, raising contemporary disgust. Novels like Artist play an important part in revealing the full range of the human condition and how easily it could be for us to be Masuji ourselves. ( )
1 vote arukiyomi | Oct 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (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 editionscalculated
Broek, C.A.G. van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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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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?
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:12 -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.

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