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"The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories Paperback – 29 Aug 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; New edition edition (29 Aug. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887178945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887178945
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 7 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the third Kawabata that I have read, and I am still struggling to decide how I feel about him. His writing is undoubtedly beautiful in places, and his stories are wistful and poetic, painting ghostly pictures of his early years and the sense of loss that accompanies their passing. However, I have to confess that I have struggled with all three to understand the message behind his stories. Perhaps I just don't understand him, or maybe my ignorance of Japanese society means that I am missing something important.
'TDGOI' includes 5 short stories and a number of very short ('palm-of-the-hand') stories. They deal, on the whole, with loss and memory, especially as concerns death in his family when Kawabata was younger. As you may expect, they are fairly morose stories, largely dealing with Kawabata's awakening to the reality of loss in life. The sadness of growing up is admirably captured, and the prose style is well suited to these subjects. 'The Master of Funerals', about a man who is invited to funerals because he mourns so well, is an exemplary Kawabata short story, and a real moment of brilliance. The book as a whole is vaguely autobiographical and helped me to understand the later books that I had read, as well as understanding Kawabata as a man. However, I was frequently bewildered by what I had just read, and because of this the book failed to touch me as much as it might. It deserves four stars for the language and imagery alone, and I would recommend it, but much of it did go over my head.
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Format: Paperback
"The Dancing Girl of Izu and other stories" is a collection of beautiful and poignant short stories. The title story is about a university student's travels who falls in love with a dancing girl. Some of the other stories depict Kawabata's relationship with his blind grandfather. The writing is enchanting and poetical. A beautiful read!

Joyce Akesson, author of Arabic Love Poetry from the Desert: Majnun Leyla, Arabic Text, Commentary and Translations and The Invitation
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
this collection of short stories and poetic little fables is some of kawabata's earlier writing. these stories are always beautiful and filled with a profound sense of tenderness, loss and longing. as with "the old capital", martin holman has done a wonderful job of translating.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Innocence and love, age and death, riddles with no meaning 7 April 2004
By Zack Davisson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories" is an odd collection of sorts, mixing an elegant, straight-forward short story together with some autobiography and a fluttering of palm-of-the-hand tales. Each element contributes a unique flavor, and a different facet of Kawabata's style.
J. Martin Holman proves himself again a master translator of Kawabata, retaining the flow and most importantly the feeling of the originals, far more than other translators I have read. The only flaw I found was that he splits the book into two sections, which I personally found a bit jarring. I think it more naturally flows into three distinct chapters.
"The Dancing Girl of Izu" is as fine a short story as you are likely to read anywhere. Every necessary element is contained, with no superfluous decoration. It is heartbreaking in its subtlety, and masterful in its craft. Everything important is unsaid. Kawabata can manipulate emotions so deeply using so little, leaving the reader with an aching emptiness as great as that of the narrator. Beautiful, and fully worth the cost of the collection alone.
"Diary of my Sixteenth Year," "Oil," "The Master of Funerals" and "Gathering Ashes" are four short autobiographical sketches of Kawabata's relationship with his only relative, a blind grandfather who would figure into several tales. Not factual per se, but true impressions. They present an intimate portrait of youth trying to understand the aged, of responsibility and resentment of responsibility, and of the numbness of death. The stories are presented as recovered diary accounts Kawabata wrote when he was 16, and they may be so. I believe the feelings, and that is enough.
The third section contains the 18 remaining unpublished palm-of-the-hand stories, Kawabata's personal trademark and contribution to literature. A page or three at the most, each story functions like a Zen koan, a story or riddle with no obvious meaning used as a contemplation tool by meditating monks to clear their minds and make them go hmmm...as they try to decipher. Koans have been called "extremely brief vignettes enabling the individual to hold entire universes of thought in mind all at once," and I think this sums it up nicely. Do not attempt to decipher these palm-of-the-hand stories, but instead read them and feel them and go hmm...
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Kawabata at his best 23 Dec. 2001
By Nathan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although Kawabata is most often associated with his better than good Palm-of-the-hand stories, I don't view them as my favorate Kawabata work. The Dancing Girl of Izu (mandatory reading for Japanese Junior High School Students) is a sort of coming of age story that made me step back and reflect. The semi-autobiographical work is tender, heart warming, and a keen glimpse into Japanese life. If you have read and enjoyed earlier works of this author I would strongly suggest this collection to you. If you have yet to discover Kawabata, I say there's no better place to start!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Biographical, mythical and realistic short tales 9 July 2000
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The first section of this book is autobiographical - the author's fictionalization of his own tragic childhoon. The diary of the period just before his grandfather's death is moving but I am uncertain that his appended notes add anything.
Of the autobiographical section, Oil is the best piece. In his learning that his hatred for oil had its origins in his father's funeral - a father of whom he had no memories - is a telling piece about the human mind in general. This piece alone is worth the cost of the book.
The second section has a variety of his early short-short stories bounded together, seemingly, only by when they were written and when they were published. The most interesting of these are the retelling of folktales - either directly or by writting a story that plays off one. The two tales I find most satisfying in this section are The Princess of Dragon Palace which is straight myth and The Money Road which is a setting of a folktale in contemporary times.
A number of other stories are very well done and could easily be the one that speaks best to you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A lonely view of love 9 May 2005
By therosen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an interesting mix of Yasunari Kawabata's early work, well before he was Japan's literary superstar, and well before the works that would ultimately win him the Nobel prize. The title story (I can't say titular, can I?) is of a college student's crush on the youngest member of a dancing troup. Most likely autobiographical, it leaves the reader sharing Kawabata's youthful loneliness. The second larger short story (there's no better way to describe it) is Diary of My Sixteenth Year, which covers the disappating love of a youth and his dying grandfather.

The remaining stories are much shorter, ranging from 3 to 10 pages each. Birthplace is an interesting story of abandonment and leaving one's home behind. Burning the Pine Boughs is as much about reading between the lines as reading what's on the page. Oil is a deep work of overcoming childhood loss.

Three common themes permeate these stories. First is the idea of an imperfect, sour or unatainable love. Second is the idea that at least somehow many of them are autobiographical. Third is that much is left unsaid in the stories. In a sense they are a prose form of Zen art, where what is unsaid can be more important than what is put to paper. Despite being distinct, one can read inferences between the stories (the hands for prayer in both Master of Funerals and Hands, for example) and perhaps that is enough to tie them all together.

Although Snow Country is commonly referred to as Kawabata's greatest accomplishment, these stories were more accessible and emotionally powerful.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Exquisite 19 July 2009
By Mostly Mozart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When Yasunari Kawabata won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the three works cited were his novels Thousand Cranes, The Old Capital, and Snow Country. His story "The Dancing Girl of Izu" is, in my opinion, the equal of any of his novels. Kawabata published the story in 1926, when he was twenty-six or twenty-seven years old, and there are autobiographical elements in it.

The story itself is superb, a coming of age story every bit as great as Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, although it couldn't be more different in tone. The rest of the book consists of other stories written between 1923 and 1929, and "Diary of My Sixteenth Year", an account of the time when Kawabata was caring for his dying grandfather, who had taken him in when Kawabata's parents died when he was three. "Diary of My Sixteenth Year" is of primarily historical interest. The remaining twenty-one stories, all of them quite short, are quite good, as well.

I know no Japanese, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of J. Martin Holman's translation, but I can definitely say that he and Kawabata have together produced a work of great literature here.
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