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Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

Thousand Cranes (original 1956; edition 1981)

by Yasunari Kawabata, Edward G Seidensticker (Translator)

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1,172356,889 (3.81)55
Title:Thousand Cranes
Authors:Yasunari Kawabata
Other authors:Edward G Seidensticker (Translator)
Info:Perigee Trade (1981), Paperback, 147 pages
Collections:Your library, Read - owned
Tags:Japanese literature, Japan, Nobel laureate

Work details

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata (1956)



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English (30)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  All (35)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
There is a unique rhythm to the prose in a Japanese novel which I enjoy tremendously. This novella is a tale of the inextricable ties that bind the dead and the living. A young man's father dies and yet the tangled web of his life continues to entangle the son. The story revolves around the ancient rite of the tea ceremony with a focus on the vessels created by early masters. Kawabata seems to reveal the ties from ancient times carried forward, in both tea ware and relationships. ( )
  hemlokgang | May 13, 2017 |
Well, this feels like something of a classical masterpiece.

Thousand Cranes is almost the lovechild of Ernest Hemingway and post-war Japan. I feel like this book isn't for everyone -- it's a bit like green tea, some people find it too bitter, some people find it too strong.

But Kawabata is something of a master, like I said. There is no word in this novel that is not intentional, and so I found myself rereading a lot of the same passages over and over, examining each word, each slice of dialogue.

I really liked that he paired such delicate, fragile images with such intense and ugly human emotions. Sullenness and someone's delicate, thousand crane handkerchief, disappointment and dying fireflies, all those things add up to make a beautiful narrative.

The book itself is quite short, only 100 pages, and it does skip forward in each part and often only implies major events in the plot.

I was surprised by the subtlety in this book, despite how harsh it is, surprised at Kawabata's craft.

I thought I'd done away with more masculine novels, with a cast of totally unlikeable characters, but the author's delicacy has shown me otherwise.

I look forward to reading more of his works.

(cw: suicide and suicidal ideation) ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
A poet of the emotions, Kawabata makes us look at love and desire in a new way. Mere gestures can knock things into another world. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I liked this book....I'm not quite sure why, but it was an interesting read. The writing was beautiful. ( )
  AmieB7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
Yasunari Kawabata's quintessential Japanese masterpiece tells the love story of a young man, Mitani Kikuji who passively becomes involved in an affair with his now dead father's mistress, Mrs. Ota. After Mrs. Ota's death, he transfers his fasciantion to her daughter. In the mix is another of his father's former mistresses, a meddling woman whose disfiguring black birthmark suggest the very toxins that jealousy has bred in her. Her goal is to interfere with any relationship that Kikuji might have with the Ota women and to arrange a marriage with another young lady. No matter how repelled he is by this woman, no matter how unnerved be is by her machinations, Kikuji remains impassive, unable to rid himself of her. Both Kikuji and Fumiko Ota are crippled by their parents' loves and guilt. In fact, the themes of love and guilt throb in every single word.

Thousand Cranes is marked by Kawabata' penchant for the subtle. Perhaps as a Westerner, there are some symbols that I missed, especially in the description of the tea ceremony and the tea utensils. That aside, despite its seeming blankness there is a powerful fullness and depth which remind me of the visual aesthetics set forth in In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanazaki. It is tempting to compare the two writers as they were contemporaries, but as sublime as Tanazaki is, he is redolent in comparison to Kawabata.

( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yasunari Kawabataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Komatsu, FumiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidensticker, Edward G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Even when he reached Kamakura and the Engakuji Temple, Kikuji did not know whether or not he would go to the tea ceremony.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
fine depiction of life in a period randomly captured without pain.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679762655, Paperback)

With a restraint that barely conceals the ferocity of his characters' passions, one of Japan's great postwar novelists tells the luminous story of Kikuji and the tea party he attends with Mrs. Ota, the rival of his dead father's mistress. A tale of desire, regret, and sensual nostalgia, every gesture has a meaning, and even the most fleeting touch or casual utterance has the power to illuminate entire lives--sometimes in the same moment that it destroys them. Translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker.

"A novel of exquisite artistry...rich suggestibility...and a story that is human, vivid and moving."--New York Herald Tribune

Kawabata is a poet of the gentlest shades, of the evanescent, the imperceptible. This is a tragedy in soft focus, but its passions are fierce."--Commonweal

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A young man is involved briefly with the two mistresses of his dead father and with the daughter of one of them. In these limited relationships, the limitless human capacity for inertia and illusion is suggested and the infinite strange combinations of human joy and suffering.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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