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The Master of Go (1954)

by Yasunari Kawabata

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1913514,148 (4)90
Go is a game of strategy in which two players attempt to surround each other's black or white stones. Simple in its fundamentals, infinitely complex in its execution, Go is an essential expression of the Japanese spirit. And in his fictional chronicle of a match played between a revered and heretofore invincible Master and a younger, more modern challenger, Yasunari Kawabata captured the moment in which the immutable traditions of imperial Japan met the onslaught of the twentieth century. The competition between the Master of Go and his opponent, Otaké, is waged over several months and layered in ceremony. But beneath the game's decorum lie tensions that consume not only the players themselves but their families and retainers--tensions that turn this particular contest into a duel that can only end in death. Luminous in its detail, both suspenseful and serene, The Master of Go is an elegy for an entire society, written with the poetic economy and psychological acumen that brought Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature. Translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker… (more)
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» See also 90 mentions

English (32)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Really, I want to give this 3.5. It is one of Kawabata's best works, but it probably isn't the one we readers like the best. This is even more spare and subtle than Kawabata's other work and it takes reading it at the "right time, in the headspace" to really appreciate it. And I think, as time goes on, it will be more and more difficult for readers to connect with and/or comprehend this novel (and the historical 1938 game). ( )
  AQsReviews | Nov 13, 2022 |
First published in Japan in 1951 and translated into English in 1972, Kawabata's story slightly fictionalizes a real game of Go, played in 1938 by a Master of the game and a younger challenger.

The story begins with the Master's death about a year after the match, and then plays with time a little as we go back and forth, slowly revealing the events of the match. Kawabata himself had reported the real-life match for the newspapers, much like his narrator-reporter named Uragami in the text. The tension ratchets up throughout the match, and Go itself becomes not just a game but a stand-in for the old and the new guard in Japanese society, all the more elegiac for knowing that the Master died, and that Japan had lost in World War 2. I'm sure some of the nuances of both the game (which I knew nothing about before opening this book) and society were lost on me, but it was an absorbing read all the same. ( )
  bell7 | Sep 24, 2022 |
really soothing
makes me want to play go ( )
  schumacherrr | Feb 21, 2022 |
Книга течет как-то размеренно, я б даже сказал медленно. Но в последних главах темп резко возрастает и после того, как закрываешь последнюю страницу - как будто пережил извержение вулкана: только что был ад и огонь, а теперь тишина!

Я любитель игры Го. По мере чтения этой книги я разбирал описываемую партию пытаясь тем самым лучше вникнуть в события. Возможно, по этой причине книга меня увлекла за собой. Хотя примерно до середины было как-то неуютно ее читать :) . Но оно того стоило.

( )
  akoiushev | Nov 10, 2021 |
Go é um jogo de estratégia em que dois jogadores tentam cercar as pedras pretas ou brancas um do outro. Simples em seus fundamentos, infinitamente complexo em sua execução, Go é uma expressão essencial do espírito japonês. Baseado em escritos para um jornal, crônica de uma partida disputada entre um mestre reverenciado e até então invencível e um desafiante mais jovem e moderno, Kawabata capturou o momento em que as tradições imutáveis ​​do Japão imperial enfrentaram o ataque não somente da modernidade do século XX, mas também, metaforicamente a derrota japonesa na segunda guerra. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Sep 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yasunari Kawabataprimary authorall editionscalculated
Felstead, CathyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frankenhuysen, Annemarie vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidensticker, Edward G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolterbeek, VincentCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mr Kawabata has described The Master of Go as 'a faithful chronicle-novel'.

Introduction.
Shūsai, Master of Go, twenty-first in the Honimbō succession, died in Atami, at the Urokaya Inn, on the morning of January 18, 1940.
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Go is a game of strategy in which two players attempt to surround each other's black or white stones. Simple in its fundamentals, infinitely complex in its execution, Go is an essential expression of the Japanese spirit. And in his fictional chronicle of a match played between a revered and heretofore invincible Master and a younger, more modern challenger, Yasunari Kawabata captured the moment in which the immutable traditions of imperial Japan met the onslaught of the twentieth century. The competition between the Master of Go and his opponent, Otaké, is waged over several months and layered in ceremony. But beneath the game's decorum lie tensions that consume not only the players themselves but their families and retainers--tensions that turn this particular contest into a duel that can only end in death. Luminous in its detail, both suspenseful and serene, The Master of Go is an elegy for an entire society, written with the poetic economy and psychological acumen that brought Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature. Translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker

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