moonplanet: Playing the okoto (okotomakikogoto)
[personal profile] moonplanet posting in [community profile] book_reviews
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.

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