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Snow Country (1935)

by Yasunari Kawabata

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,645663,934 (3.73)159
With the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature, Yasunari Kawabata tells a story of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan, the snowiest region on earth. It is there, at an isolated mountain hotspring, that the wealthy sophisticate Shimamura meets the geisha Komako, who gives herself to him without regrets, knowing that their passion cannot last. Shimamura is a dilettante of the feelings; Komako has staked her life on them. Their affair can have only one outcome. Yet, in chronicling its doomed course, one of Japan's greatest modern writers creates a novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.… (more)
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» See also 159 mentions

English (61)  French (4)  Dutch (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
I haven't a clue what to make of this book.
  nick4998 | Oct 31, 2020 |
This is the fifth read of my Japanese Odyssey and I am still coning to terms with reading Japanese books.

The other day I read an account by someone who had just read Kafka On The Shore and they were frustrated that they couldn't get to the "heart" of it. I knew what they meant even though I haven't read it yet.

We westerners are used to a book with a plot, a subplot or two and a beginning, middle and end. I am beginning to think that Japanese have one or more different takes on book structure. Sure I have read Japanese novels that are very western in their structure but I have equally read some where the act of looking for that structure leads you away from the book because it is not there.

I was half way into this book and trying to work out what I was reading when I came across a video of a Japanese TV program called something like Karaoke Masturbation. The contestants have to karaoke their way through a song whilst being masturbated by a beautiful young woman, I am not making this up. The contestants modesty is preserved by a small strategically placed curtain. I think the goal is to ejaculate at the end of the song. The young women do their job with gusto, stroking furiously with one hand whilst pinching nipples with the other. They also suck the nipples to hurry on that fateful moment. Every quaver in the contestants voice in response to the ministrations of the young woman begets gales of laughter by the audience. At the moment of ejaculation the camera is focussed downwards, in this case the money shot is hitting the floor. Points are awarded by how near the end of the song they came.

The thing is that I cannot imagine anywhere where you could see a program like this. Certainly not in good old sexually repressed New Zealand. Definitely not in violence obsessed/sexually phobic America. I did think that you may see it in England, but not this year or next. This is, for me, the paradox of the Japanese. A culture where social standing and "face" are of the utmost importance and shame quite often leads to suicide and at the same time you can see public wanking shows. WTF?

The blurb for Snow Country says very high things indeed and yet you could quite easily miss that in the reading of it. The main character in the book is the landscape and the season and the everything natural that is there, The people are almost superfluous but not really. On a prosaic level it is the story of an alcoholic prostitute and a rich loser. But on a poetic level it is the meeting of two souls, one of which is not straightforward and the other is dead inside.

Did I understand it? No, Did I enjoy it? I don't even know if that is an appropriate question anymore. I am glad I read it and I still think most of it went over my head. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
Mystical and dreamlike in a similar vein to Halldor Laxness, another island poet/novelist. This is beautiful, moving, and guided by the snowy mountains and starry skies that surround the story. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
I couldn’t have been more disappointed with this. Of course I did that soul-searching where one’s own inadequacies are put forward as the reason for a failure to like something that Should Be Liked. New shelf idea. Should Have Been Liked But Wasn’t.

This is a very very VERY Japanese book and anything I say about it is merely the opinion of one who is ignorant of the culture which imbues it. Needless to say, the whole idea of the male-female relations, the ways in which the women have to live is repugnant.

Rest here:

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/the-snow-country-by-yasuna... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
I couldn’t have been more disappointed with this. Of course I did that soul-searching where one’s own inadequacies are put forward as the reason for a failure to like something that Should Be Liked. New shelf idea. Should Have Been Liked But Wasn’t.

This is a very very VERY Japanese book and anything I say about it is merely the opinion of one who is ignorant of the culture which imbues it. Needless to say, the whole idea of the male-female relations, the ways in which the women have to live is repugnant.

Rest here:

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/the-snow-country-by-yasuna... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (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 (12 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.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidensticker, Edward G.Translatorsecondary 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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With the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature, Yasunari Kawabata tells a story of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan, the snowiest region on earth. It is there, at an isolated mountain hotspring, that the wealthy sophisticate Shimamura meets the geisha Komako, who gives herself to him without regrets, knowing that their passion cannot last. Shimamura is a dilettante of the feelings; Komako has staked her life on them. Their affair can have only one outcome. Yet, in chronicling its doomed course, one of Japan's greatest modern writers creates a novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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