Oct. 23rd, 2011

moonplanet: Playing the okoto (okotomakikogoto)
[personal profile] moonplanet
Recently I've been reading a lot of Japanese literature in English and Dutch. For the English reviews on the Dutch translations, see my weblog. But here is one for an English translation!

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The old capital (on Librarything)
Author: Yasunari Kawabata
Format: paperback
Pages: 182
Year published: original 1962, my edition 2006
Language: English (original Japanese title "Koto")
ISBN number: 9781593760328
BookCrossing ID: 8613166
Reason for reading: Found it on Abunai-con Veldhoven.

Back cover text:
Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a kimono designer and his wife. Since her youth, Chieko was told that the childless couple kidnapped her in a moment of profound desire. When Chieko learns unsettling truths about her past, her life of love and affection is thrown into disarray.
This delicate novel traces the legacy of beauty and tradition from one generation of artists to the next as they navigate, with an ambivalent mixture of regret and fascination, the complex world of postwar Japan. This simple story of chance, art, and devotion resounds with deep spiritual and human understanding.
Yasunari Kawabata is widely recognized as one of the most significant figures in modern Japanese literature. The Old Capital was one of three novels specifically cited when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.

First alinea:
Chieko discovered the violets flowering on the trunk of the old maple tree. "Ah. They've bloomed again this year," she said as she encountered the gentleness of spring.
The maple was rather large for such a small garden in the city; the trunk was larger around than Chieko's waist. But this ancient tree with its course moss-covered bark was not the sort of thing one should compare with a girl's innocent body.
The trunk of the tree twisted slightly to the right at about the height of Chieko's waist, and just over her head it bent even farther. Above the bend the limbs extended outward, dominating the garden, the ends of the longer branches drooping with their own weight.

moonplanet: cover of Superfly's CD single "Aa" (superfly-aa)
[personal profile] moonplanet
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Out of Africa & Shadows on the Grass (on Librarything)
Author: Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)
Format: paperback
Pages: 351
Year published: "Out of Africa" original 1937, "Shadows on the grass" original 1960, my edition 1984
Language: English
ISBN number: 0140085335
Reason for reading: My grandmother loves Africa and the story "Out of Africa" a lot, both the book and the movie. As I have never seen the movie, I thought it would be a nice idea to read the book first and when I was at my grandmother's house a while ago, I asked if I could borrow the book.

Back cover text:
Karen Blixen's extraordinary love affair with Africa began when she and her husband went to Kenya to plant coffee in 1913. The marriage and the plantation failed, but Baroness Blixen's passion for Africa remained.

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass, presented for the first time in one volume, were written when she returned to her native Denmark and are full of her longing to return to the country and the people she came to love and admire. Her writing combines intelligence, compassion and an acute understanding of an alien culture.

First alinea of "Out of Africa":
I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.

First alinea of "Shadows on the Grass":
As here, after twenty-five years, I again take up episodes of my life in Africa, one figure, straight, candid, and very fine to look at, stands as doorkeeper to all of them: my Somali servant Farah Aden. Were any reader to object that I might choose a character of greater importance, I should answer him that that would not be possible.


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