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The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe
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The Woman in the Dunes (original 1962; edition 1991)

by Kobo Abe

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,312464,349 (3.83)1 / 136
In this famous postwar Japanese novel, the first of Abe's to be translated into English, Niki Jumpei, an amateur entomologist in pursuit of a rare specimen of beetle, wanders into a strange seaside village, whose residents all live in sandpits. He is taken prisoner, and, along with a widow cast out by the community, he is forced to move into her sandpit and continually shovel away the sand that threatens to take over the village. In Niki's struggles to escape his prison and his developing relationship with the woman, he gradually comes to understand the existential nature of life.… (more)
Member:prezzey
Title:The Woman in the Dunes
Authors:Kobo Abe
Info:Vintage (1991), Edition: Reissue, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:japanese, contemporary, read, own, magyarul

Work details

The Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe (1962)

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English (42)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
An existentialist horror novel which gave me goosebumps all through. An entomologist on vacation is seeking a new species of insect and becomes trapped in a house in a village within sand dunes. He and the woman in the house are tasked with shoveling out sand, which always falls into the house. If left unchecked it will collapse the house. After a frightening unsuccessful escape, the man is returned to the house and is working on a project to trap water. When he is freed, what will he do? This read like a metaphor. I was reminded of the Sisyphus myth and of one of Kafka's works, most particularly "The Burrow." It had the same creepiness and conveyed the same sense of dread. ( )
  janerawoof | Feb 12, 2020 |
Filtering away ten years of static and debris, this book, as much as I recall of my immediate response, truly bothered me. The futility depicted was organic and I could relate personally.

Abe's novel reflected that all-too-common disposition to habitually complicate. Maintaining the metaphor, I never lost complete traction, but it threatened always. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This book was so bad it made me wish I was dead. ( )
  plumtingz | Dec 14, 2017 |
Such a strange book about the prisons we live our lives in, those self-constructed and imposed by others, what we'll trade our freedom for, and how hard (or not) we'll fight to regain it. At times an incredibly frustrating book, but always a great book. I sometimes felt so violent reading this, but then would think, "What sand am I digging? Day after day?" Thinking about this book too much can be truly dangerous. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
The best parts of this were disturbing but powerful in a way that reminded me of [b:The Vegetarian|25489025|The Vegetarian|Han Kang|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1439328100s/25489025.jpg|18449744], but ultimately I found it fairly repetitive, although ford with strange little asides. In my opinion, this would have benefited from editorial tightening, and could have made an utterly fantastic short story or novella. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Aug 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kōbō Abeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abe, MachiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cornips, ThérèseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gross, AlexCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saunders, E. DaleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Epigraph
WITHOUT THE THREAT
OF PUNISHMENT
THERE IS NO JOY
IN FLIGHT
罰がなければ、逃げるたのしみもない
Dedication
First words
One day in August a man disappeared.
八月のある日、男が一人、行方不明になった。
Quotations
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Es gibt wahrhaftig kein wunderlicheres, so von Neid zerfressenes Wesen wie einen Schullehrer! Da strömen die Schüler Jahr für Jahr gleich einem Fluß an ihm vorbei, nur er selber bleibt wie ein tief auf dem Grund des Flusses liegender Stein zurück. Er kann wohl anderen von Hoffnungen erzählen, aber ihm selber sind sie nicht erlaubt. Er kommt sich nutzlos vor und verfällt entweder in selbstquälerischen Trübsinn oder wird ein Moralprediger, der anderen vorschreiben will, wie sie zu leben haben. Eigenwilligkeit und Tatkraft anderer müssen ihm schon deswegen zuwider sein, weil er selber sich aus tiefster Seele danach sehnt.
"... Schriftsteller werden zu wollen, bedeutet, von Egoismus besessen zu sein; man will sich von einer Marionette dadurch unterscheiden, daß man selber als Puppenspieler in Erscheinung tritt. Insofern unterscheidet man sich nicht wesentlich von Frauen, die ein Make-up benutzen."

"Das ist zu hart formuliert! Aber wenn sie schon das Wort Schriftsteller in diesem Sinne gebrauchen, sollten Sie wenigstens bis zu einem gewissen Grad zwischen einem Schriftsteller und dem Schreiben unterscheiden!"

"Ja, genau das meine ich. Eben aus diesem Grund wollte ich Schriftsteller werden. Und wenn mir das nicht gelingt, sehe ich nicht ein, weshalb ich schreiben sollte!"
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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