Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Snow CountrySnow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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)

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