GEISHA by Stephen & Ethel Longstreet


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O-Kita, trained from youth in the intricate ways of the pleasure-giving Geisha, is jolted from the formalized life of the tea house, when, at the end of the eighteenth century, a young American doctor arrives in Tokyo. Dr. Heacock, who manages, despite his epilepsy, to be a pretty facile wielder of the scalpel, falls in love with the twenty-year-old O-Kita and she with him. But O-Kita is under orders to spy on the Shogun (War Lord), the very man on whom Heacock is to operate, and for her compliance in the plot, she is punished by mutilation. And so the fairy-tale lovers, reminiscent of Pinkerton and Butterfly, are separated, O-Kita to serve the disciplined life of the tea house madam, Heacock to take refuge in service and the opium pipe. For lovers of exotic romance and pleasurably unhappy endings, this story is recommended. But for any reader with more than the most fleeting interest in and knowledge of Japan, the portrayal of the Tokugawa print masters as left bank bohemians endlessly pondering survival versus integrity, of the Geisha as a rather reluctant call girl, of the Ronin as a group of hoods, will result in considerable irritation. Despite the presence of every conceivable print artist in this novel, despite the numerous references to No and Kabuki, to hara-kiri and Kwanon, this story of love versus from by the authors of Man of Montmartre, wears its kimono with uneasy grace, displaying at every turn the tailoring of the west.

Publisher: Funk & Wagnalls