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Snow Country (1935)

by Yasunari Kawabata

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,151834,000 (3.71)197
Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. HTML:Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata??s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer??s masterpiece: a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan.
 
At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome. In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages ?? a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its… (more)
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» See also 197 mentions

English (74)  French (5)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
It's been some time since I read this, and I don't recall any details. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 13, 2023 |
Kawabata has been put, I think rightly, in a literary line that can be traced back to seventeenth-century haiku masters. Haiku are tiny seventeen-syllable poems that seek to convey a sudden awareness of beauty by a mating of opposite or incongruous terms. Thus the classical haiku characteristically fuses motion and stillness.Similarly Kawabata relies very heavily on a mingling of the senses.(Kindle Locations 35-37)

In Snow Country Kawabata has chosen a theme that makes ameeting between haiku and the novel possible.(Kindle Locations 42-43)

The girl's face seemed to be out in the flow of the evening mountains. It was then that a light shone in the face. The reflection in the mirror was not strong enough to blot out the light outside, nor was the light strong enough to dim the reflection. The light moved across the face, though not to light it up.It was a distant, cold light. As it sent its small ray through the pupil of the girl's eye, as the eye and the light were superimposed one on the other, the eye became a weirdly beautiful bit of phosphorescence on the sea of evening mountains. (Kindle Locations 127-131)

A ballet he had never seen was an art in another world. It was an unrivaled armchair reverie, a lyric from some paradise.He called his work research, but it was actually free, uncontrolled fantasy. He preferred not to savor the ballet in the flesh; rather he savored the phantasms of his own dancing imagination, called up by Western books and pictures. It was like being in love with someone he had never seen. (Kindle Locations 262-265)

There was something lonely, something sad in it, something that rather suggested a beggar who has lost all desire. It occurred to Shimamura that his own distant fantasy on the occidental ballet, built up from words and photographs in foreign books, was not in its way dissimilar. (Kindle Locations 425-427)

For a moment he was taken with the fancy that the light must pass through Komako, living in the silkworms' room, as it passed through the translucent silkworms. (Kindle Locations 538-539)

He was chilled to the pit of his stomach--but someone had left the windows wide open. The color of evening had already fallen on the mountain valley, early buried in shadows. Out of the dusk the distant mountains, still reflecting the light of the evening sun, seemed to have come much nearer. Presently, as the mountain chasms were far and near, high and low, the shadows in them began to deepen, and the sky was red over the snowy mountains, bathed now in but a wan light. Cedar groves stood out darkly by the river bank, at the ski ground, around the shrine. (Kindle Locations 610-614)

A chill swept over Shimamura. The goose flesh seemed to rise even to his cheeks.The first notes opened a transparent emptiness deep in his entrails, and in the emptiness the sound of the samisen reverberated. He was startled--or, better,he fell back as under a well-aimed blow. Taken with a feeling almost of reverence,washed by waves of remorse, defenseless, quite deprived of strength--there was nothing for him to do but give himself up to the current, to the pleasure of being swept off wherever Komako would take him. (Kindle Locations 696-700)

Before a white wall, shaded by eaves, a little girl in "mountain trousers" and orange-red flannel kimono, clearly brand-new, was bouncing a rubber ball. For Shimamura, there was autumn in the little scene. (Kindle Locations 1036-1038)

It was through a thin, smooth skin that man loved. Looking out at the evening mountains, Shimamura felt a sentimental longing for the human skin. (Kindle Locations 1058-1059)

When he was far away, he thought incessantly of Komako; but now that he was near her, this sighing for the human skin took on a dreamy quality like the spell of the mountains. Perhaps he felt a certain security, perhaps he was at the moment too intimate, too familiar with her body. (Kindle Locations 1064-1066)

He had stayed so long that one might wonder whether he had forgotten his wife and children. He stayed not because he could not leave Komako nor because he did not want to. He had simply fallen into the habit of waiting for those frequent visits. And the more continuous the assault became, the more he began to wonder what was lacking in him, what kept him from living as completely. He stood gazing at his own coldness, so to speak. He could not understand how she had so lost herself. All of Komako came to him, but it seemed that nothing went out from him to her. He heard in his chest, line snow piling up, the sound of Komako, an echo beating against empty walls. And he knew that he could not go on pampering himself forever. (Kindle Locations 1465-1470)

( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
I read this in college and really loved it. Just went back and read it again for a book group.

I'm not sure what to rate it. It wasn't exactly as I remembered it. I feel like I need to read some essays/theory before I can fully appreciate it again. It was probably through that lens of academia that I first appreciated it, and I've been out of that world for so long I kind of found myself wondering what was so good about it. (Not that it was bad, just that I don't remember why I LOVED it.)
  veewren | Jul 12, 2023 |
2.5

First published in 1948 and considered Kawabata's masterpiece, I felt like I should have liked Snow Country more than I did. A lot more. Because honestly, I didn't really like it. There's a "but" there, though.

Shimamura, a rich, spoiled, idle, married man, travels to a hot spring in Japan's remote Snow Country, so called because the winters are long and the snow isolates it for months on end. There he meets Komako, a young geisha, who falls head over heels for him despite the fact that she knows she should not. Shimamura visits the hot springs and Komako three times over the course of two years and we bear witness to their interactions.

He is cold and distant, much like the titular snow country. She is passionate and manic, given to bouts of heavy drinking, professing her feelings, pushing him away, leaving, and coming back. Over and over and over and over. And over.

And that's kind of it. It felt excruciatingly long which is pretty terrible given that it's only 175 pages.

Here comes the '"but"... The writing is, at times, heartbreakingly exquisite. The descriptions of the natural world, the mountains, sky, insects, weather are sublime. For example:

"It was a stern night landscape. The sound of the freezing of snow over the land seemed to roar deep into the earth. There was no moon. The stars, almost too many of them to be true, came forward so brightly that it was as if they were falling with the swiftness of the void."

I mean... GAH! So I kept reading to unearth these gems. There were enough that I finished it but honestly I'm glad it's over. ( )
  Jess.Stetson | Apr 4, 2023 |
Rather opaque novel in which the plot and purpose really escapes me. Perhaps there is symbolism here that I just did not recognize. Beautiful writing in passages, and several powerfully beautiful vignettes and descriptive passages. There is a strong them of wasted lives, and also to some extent the absence of or inability to love. Perhaps the main character of this novel is the landscape itself, and the human characters are just indifferent distractions. I'm not sure. I think I will have to read it again. ( )
1 vote dooney | Feb 22, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
Snow Country is a work of beauty and strangeness, one of the most distinguished and moving Japanese novels to have appeared in this country.
added by GYKM | editNew York Herald Tribune
 

» Add other authors (73 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yasunari Kawabataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Durán, CésarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gergely ÁgnesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivimies, YrjöTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamberti, LucaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nagae, Neide HissaeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinter, FerencCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidensticker, Edward G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tagliaferri, AldoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. HTML:Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata??s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer??s masterpiece: a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan.
 
At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome. In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages ?? a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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