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The Izu Dancer and Other Stories by Yasunari…

The Izu Dancer and Other Stories (1974)

by Yasunari Kawabata, Yasushi Inoue

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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an odd collection of translated short stories from Tuttle, with one written by Yasunari Kawabata followed by three from Yasushi Inoue. Kawabata is one of my favourite writers ever; his delicate and unstated social transactions between parties speaks very little of the emotions governing the principals, but dwells on every gesture, every hesitation, every observation until the reader becomes a third party to every transaction, and the meaning is contained in what is never said. add this to the Japanese tendency in such stories, describing an old Japan hardly aware of yet colliding with the new before and after 1945, never to let the authorial voice in any way summarize or interpret the relationships, and every story becomes a painting of spare figures in a naturalistic world, a momentary breeze rippling a pond. allusive, evocative, burrowing into the ma concept of time and space that in these stories cannot quite be caught in the moment of meeting.

and this way of working at the world can come as a shock to the western mind, which wants the author to supply more hints about both what happened and what it meant. very subtle, this stuff, and plainly producing art. but also it describes context and complexity in very different formal terms - as a series of japanese tea ceremonies, say, deconstructed - that hardly seem to register on the page, yet become indelible in the mind's eye long after the story has been set aside. here the written story displays as art, composed with a calligraphic brush on a ricepaper page. which in general terms conveys beauty, runs an metaphysical expense account, and radiates solitude. but the meaning has been left for the reader to decipher.

Inoue, whom i had not read before, approaches his similar subjects a little differently, owing apparently to his own cast of mind. somewhat younger than Kawabata, with the same poetic pen but with more of a detail-oriented temperament, he tells stories that seem at first glance to be more matter-of-fact, but are not necessarily about what they seem to be about. consider his lead subject in "The Counterfeiter", a man who seems mere background detail in a story about an artist, until the biographer narrator seizes on him while trying to straighten out the detail of the artist's life for a biographical intro to his work. as he proceeds, there are any number of facts to find, yet they can hardly all be crammed into one tidy chronological narrative. he is compelled to become a detective. the timeline originally seems straightforward, but in the field he finds it difficult to straighten out the kink. how will he resolve these difficulties in order to continue? and do we as readers come to the same private conclusions about what the story means? the artist may not be the artist. there are questions of authenticity. yet neither the poet-writer nor the narrator really live in a world which sets out to solve such mysteries, so instead it's the nature of the encounters between the two principals that matters and yet cannot be altogether authenticated. none of this is ever stated, but between the straightforward account of the search and the unknowable truth behind it, there is a gap, creating a texture to the work that is simple yet very dense. very like, perhaps, what an artist does with pigment.

and so every story is painted onto a ricepaper scroll, rolled up by the writer and then unrolled by the reader. but beware, there is no gloss available for all the beyond that is buried on the page. and with both authors, the stage, every meeting, is set in the natural world, which holds a lot of the emotion that is not otherwise expressed. welcome to the ground of the japanese school of painting, literature, philosophy. there is a setting (here: mountains), time passes (in both directions), there are two people, there is a moment. but do they ever really meet? profound changes can occur if they do, but the tableau itself does not record much movement. every encounter is all built from allusion, down to the tiniest detail. yet bells are ringing somewhere in that empty sky. ( )
1 vote macha | Oct 13, 2016 |
A book of short stories that offers a sampling of two great writers, Yasunari Kawabata and Yasushi Inoue.

The title story, The Izu Dancer is by Kawabata and is about a small troupe of traveling performers and a student infatuated with their young drummer girl. A beautiful little piece.

Inoue's contributions include The Counterfeiter, Obasute, and The Full Moon. All three stories deal with separation, loneliness, and alienation. Inoue takes the isolation, the loneliness of the character... a minor chord... and strokes it into the beautiful riff of nature. If he were a musician, he'd be singing the blues... with a smile as he looked out in his mind's eye over the mountains in the early autumn.

Kawabata is no stranger to me and I love his work. Inoue is fast becoming my newest friend in reading. ( )
2 vote Banoo | Sep 7, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yasunari Kawabataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Inoue, Yasushimain authorall editionsconfirmed
Picon, LeonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidensticker, EdwardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The is a completely different work from " The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories". The other stories included here are, in fact, all by Yasushi Inoue and are: The Counterfeiter; Obasute; The Full Moon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804811415, Paperback)

Originally published in The Atlantic Monthly, in 1958, The Izu Dancer, a story about a young man's travels through the Izu Peninsula, introduced Kawabata's prodigious talent to the West. Since its first printing, Kawabata, winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize, has been recognized as one of Japan's most distinguished writers. Also included in this collection are three stories by the prolific author Yasushi Inoue, the recipient of every major prize in Japanese literature: "The Counterfeiter," "Obasute," and "The Full Moon." Inoue's stories, each of which are at least partially autobiographical, all reveal his great compassion for his fellow human being.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:47 -0400)

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