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Reviews Written by
Anita Treso "ast31" (North London, UK)

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Beauty and Sadness (Twentieth Century Classics)
Beauty and Sadness (Twentieth Century Classics)
by Yasunari Kawabata
Edition: Paperback

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry of brushstrokes., 16 April 2006
Beauty and Sadness is a love story between a fifteen year old girl and her married lover. We learn about the affair through the thoughts and conversations of the two lovers, Oki, now in his fifties, and Otoko now in her late thirties. These memories are painful for those involved and those outside the relationship and the novel explores the ripple effects of such an affair. Oki is a novelist and his most famous novel is that of his affair with Otoko. Otoko is now a well-known artist, and it is her protege and lover, Keiko, who seeks revenge for Otoko. She embarks on a subtle, but painful deceit of Oki's adult son, Taichiro and Oki himself. It is Oki's wife, Fumiko, who suffered during Oki's affair, during the publication of his novel, which she typed up for him as she typed all his work, and then she suffers because of Keiko's act of revenge. Although the story begins with a man remembering his past lover, the intensity between all the characters draws you into their subterfuge. Kawabata shows how the younger generation inflict their ideas and emotions onto the past, making this a very different love story. Kawabata weaves strands of pain and loss into the novel, past and present ebb and flow. Another important character within the novel, is Japan itself. Kawabata paints brushstrokes of images and settings which support the characters and become a part of the story. The novel is a peice of artwork in it's description of environment and events. A great master at work, both in the vivid images and emotions of the characters and in the twists and turns of the plot. The unexpected and sometimes shocking revelations are only believable because Kawabata has made the extraordinary, ordinary.

The Road to Wigan Pier (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Road to Wigan Pier (Penguin Modern Classics)
by George Orwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

87 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Notes on 'The Road to Wigan Pier'., 1 April 2006
'The Road to Wigan Pier' is split into two parts. Part one is George Orwell's recording of his experiences in the North of England, meeting miner's families and reporting at first hand what he saw and heard. Orwell records with sincerity the working class condition. There is no blame or embellishment of what Orwell saw. Orwell's descriptions of the people in the boarding houses he was staying in, are wonderful. You really get a sense of the filth and depravation, and yet the people make you feel at home, to the point of marking your bread and butter with "a black thumb-print on it". I appreciate Orwell's candid writing. The stark reality of poverty is brought to life by Orwell, from his description of the conditions of working in the mines, to the weekly shopping bill and food consumption.
Part two is Orwell's polemic on what he saw and experienced. I found this part of the book filled with passion, anger and justifications. Orwell always makes sure to explain the reasoning behind his arguements and even apologises for his background. Part two consists of political theories, language, class distinction and the personal journey Orwell experienced whilst researching part one.
In my opinion, 'The Road to Wigan Pier' is a wonderful snapshot of a time and a place. It still has a place in literature today as a reminder to us all that there are still destitute people in the world and that things haven't changed as much as we hoped.

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