House of the Sleeping Beauties and other stories by Yasunari Kawabata ; translated by Edward G. Seidensticker ; with an introduction by Yukio Mishima
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Palo Alto, CA. : Kodansha International, 1969. Second printing. Hardcover. 149 pages ; 21 cm. $4.50 dust jacket. Previous owner name on the front free endpaper. No other markings within this book. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!
First translation of the Nobel Prize-winning author's finest work House of the Sleeping Beauties
"He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the house warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything else of that sort." With his promise to abide by the rules, Eguchi begins his life as a member of a secret club for elderly gentlemen who have lost their sexual powers. At an inn several hours from Tokyo they indulge in their last pleasure: lying with beautiful young girls who are sleeping nude when the men arrive. As "House of the Sleeping Beauties" unfolds in Kawabata's subtle prose, the horrified reader comes to see that the sexual excitement is a result not of rejuvenescence, but of a flirtation with death.
The three stories presented in this volume all center upon a lonely protagonist and his peculiar eroticism. In each, the author explores the interplay of fantasy and reality at work on a mind in solitude— in "House of the Sleeping Beauties," the elderly Eguchi and his clandestine trips to his club; in "One Arm," the bizarre dialogue of a man with the arm of a young girl; in "Of Birds and Beasts," a middle-aged man's memories of an affair with a dancer mingled with glimpses of his abnormal attachment to his pets.
All of these stories appear in English for the first time outside of Japan. "Of Birds and Beasts," written in the early 1930's, is one of Kawabata's earlier works, while "One Arm" and "House of the Sleeping Beauties," the latter hailed by novelist Yukio Mishima as the best of Kawabata's works, are among his most recent.
THE AUTHOR : Yasunari Kawabata, first Japanese Nobel laureate in literature, was born in Osaka in 1899. His earliest ambition was to become a painter, but his rare talent for writing so soon displayed itself—his first story was published when he was in high school—that he changed his course. An acute painter's sensibility pervades all his works.
He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1924 and published The Izu Dancer in 1925. His prevailing theme was already established: his sub" sequent works have for the most part dealt with loneliness, transience, love, guilt and death.
Mr. Kawabata is known as a "traditionalist" among Japanese writers—he is famous as one of the creators of a sensual, impressionistic and peculiarly Japanese style. There is much in it, however, that suggests European literature between the wars. It has been described by Edward Seidensticker as "extremely terse as well as musical." Most appropriately, Mr. Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for "his narrative mastership, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind. "