THE LAKE by Yasunari Kawabata


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Gimpei, a youngish man, once a schoolteacher, comes from the snow country -- Nobel prizewinner Kawabata's novel of that name which was written at about the same time as this (the mid-'50's). There are other points of cross reference to be elusively pursued, as one might expect. He had lost his job after having fallen in love with a young student -- in time as she appears and disappears throughout the pages she will represent the one, unattainable apogee of romantic love. Now having fallen on more bedraggled times, Gimpei pursues women in a circular progression, sometimes lies, even steals -- a woman's bag -- and is last seen in a degrading encounter with a prostitute. Always there are contrasts of beauty (cherry blossoms) and ugliness (his malformed feet which obsess him) and the fathomless unknown which returns him to the lake where his father died, mysteriously. Kawabata has always been casually formless about structure (until his recent book The Master of Go -- 1972) so that what little takes place leaves a faint imprint of months and years, of slurred associations, memories and dreams. Stylized and incomplete -- to be read between the lines and the open spaces. A frail, disconsolate, recessive work which crumples like those cherry blossoms but not without the ingrown, almost narcotic fascination of some of his stronger novels.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1974
ISBN: 4770030010
Publisher: Kodansha International -- dist. by Harper & Row