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Novel response - Essay Example

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The novel Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata is an atmospheric tale of a married man who travels out of Tokyo into the snowy mountains to meet with a geisha called Komako. The story is told from the point of view of this intelligent, but rather shallow visitor, Shimamura, who is…
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Download file to see previous pages A key theme of the book is the relationship between Shimamura and Komako, and the linked desire he has for the shy Yoko, both of whom seem to symbolize the ancient, traditional aspects of Japan which he longs for. Kawabata makes this clear by linking his descriptions of these women with aspects of the landscape, as for example when he likens the white powder that Komako uses as make-up to “the snow-country cold” (Kawabata, 1996, p. 39). This image suggests to me that the title of the book should be read in two ways, first as an exploration of the stunning natural beauty of Japan, and then secondly also as an exploration of the equally stunning and mystical beauty of Japanese women.
One of the most memorable features of this book is the way that the story unfolds through a series of hints and guesses, rather than by clear description of specific actions. Shimamura seems very sensitive, perhaps more sensitive than is usual for a man in a Western culture, and his appreciation of the moon, the snow and the everyday scenes around him reveals a philosophical approach to life. The reader is given the impression that every single item in the world resonates with deeper meanings. He has an affinity with nature, and this changed my view of Japan as a hyper-modern country full of high tech industries and crowded cities.
On the other hand, I was disappointed in the book’s resolution of the love affair between Shimamura and the two main female characters. At the end I was not sure what he was feeling, because Yoko appeared to be dead, and there was no clear plan regarding his position with Kamako. Shimamura appeared more interested in the way that the fire seemed to reach out into the Milky Way, (Kawabata, 1996, p. 171), than the dramatic effects of the fire on real people, this made him appear cold and detached from human society. In the end I did not like this character very much, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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