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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less is more
Snow Country and Thousand Cranes exemplify Kawabata's mastery of the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances of human psychology. Yet what amazes is his almost Haiku-like precision and pithy brevity. For me, each sentence exploded off the page. When I returned to the first paragraphs of Thousand Cranes I was amazed to see that these few spare sentences somehow contained, or...
Published on 8 May 1997

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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Similar in mood to Kawabata's Snow Country, but not as good
Similar in mood and approach to Kawabata's exquisite Snow Country, this one just isn't as engaging. As with Snow Country, it's more about mood and asociation of ideas and images than plot and cause-and-effect, but here it's hard to feel much of anything for the characters or events. Whereas Snow Country trembles with unexpressed emotion, this book just seems empty...
Published on 11 Jan. 2007 by Greshon


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less is more, 8 May 1997
By A Customer
Snow Country and Thousand Cranes exemplify Kawabata's mastery of the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances of human psychology. Yet what amazes is his almost Haiku-like precision and pithy brevity. For me, each sentence exploded off the page. When I returned to the first paragraphs of Thousand Cranes I was amazed to see that these few spare sentences somehow contained, or rather encoded like DNA, the whole essence of the novel.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing look at family ties, 21 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
Kawabata's novel gives amazing insight into the Japanese traditions of family ancestors, as well as insight for anyone who has felt tied to their parents. Kikuji's struggle to find himself and his independence from the memory of his father signify the struggles of youth at the death of a parent in modern times. Brilliantly executed, it is quite possibly one of the best novels to ever come from Japan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book on shadows, 2 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Thousand Cranes (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a wonderfully subtle novel which achieves its effect by defining the characters against the absence of others. We are in effect bought in to the afterglow of a world that is fading from view after the death of the protagonist's father. The tea ceremony, which the whole novel revolves around, is a system in break down after loosing those who gave it its significance. Yet it is precisely against this world in decline that the characters gain their identity.

The book starts with Kikuji on his way to a tea ceremony that has been arranged by Chikako, a former lover of his father. Yet Kikuji himself, far from continuing his fathers passion for the ceremony, purposefully avoids them. Chikako herself only seems to be holding the events in order to cling onto the spirit of Kikuji's father - the water jar, the tea measure and the tea cup that is given to Kikuji are all his fathers. And in fact it is only in the absence of his father that Kikuji manages to exert the social force he does over the other characters. Mrs. Oto, her daughter (Fumiko) and Chikako are all only interested in him insofar as he is his fathers son - insofar as he represents the last refuge of those embers of significance for the world of the tea ceremony - just as later Kikuji is only interested in (until the very end) Fumiko insofar as she resembles her mother. It is as if all are shadows in the light of the previous generations. It is just this light that we watch fade throughout the novel, as Kikuji slowly moves further from the realm of the tea ceremony, and as Chikuko's attitude towards him becomes more vexed. It seems he does not nourish those embers of his father's world that she values so dearly.

It is in the closing moments of the novel, however, that Kikuji finally manages to establish himself, become more than that determined by absence. He finally makes "his way outside [that] dark ugly curtain". It is through his relationship with Fumiko that he is finally able to break free of that world, by finding a position that is neither fleeing (selling the house, moving away) nor embracing the dying world of his fathers (continuing the relationship with Mrs. Oto, considering marrying Chikako's match) either of which would leave him as before - i.e. defined by those whom he is not. When Mrs. Oto's Shino cup is broken by her daughter it is as if the reign of the tea ceremony (and his fathers memory) is finally over. This lets Kikuji finally see Fumiko for who she was: "Always as before, she had been Mrs Ota's Daughter. Now he had forgotten". Simultaneously then he is freed from his obsession with Mrs. Oto: "It was as if an addict had been freed of his addiction by taking the ultimate dose of a drug". She becomes the absolute which lets him establish his own place in the world, his own sphere of intimacy.

Yet Fumiko becomes trapped in her mothers image. She both flees from its defining essence and embraces it. Flees it by selling her family home, embraces it in her relationship with Kikuji. She thus can't escape her mother's guilt. Kikuji shows his naivety to all of this when, with regard to Fumiko's implicit suicide in the closing pages, he says "she has no reason to die". Yet for Fumiko, her own significance in the world comes from her mother's image and so it must seem appropriate to her that she should share her mother's fate.

Finally then, the novel starts and finishes with the same question: how do we find our way in the world when we loose those who give it significance?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, 10 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Thousand Cranes (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
At 100 pages, this book may seem short, but I've spent two weeks poring over it, re-reading, and re-reading again! Elegantly written, simple but never straightforward- I was mesmerised by the poetic quality in Thousand Cranes and pleased by its rather demure plot.
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4.0 out of 5 stars thousand cranes, 26 April 2013
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This review is from: Thousand Cranes (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Beautifully written. Lyrical and mesmerising. Kawabata is a writer of fine distinction, who evokes the subtleties of life and culture in Japan.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Similar in mood to Kawabata's Snow Country, but not as good, 11 Jan. 2007
Similar in mood and approach to Kawabata's exquisite Snow Country, this one just isn't as engaging. As with Snow Country, it's more about mood and asociation of ideas and images than plot and cause-and-effect, but here it's hard to feel much of anything for the characters or events. Whereas Snow Country trembles with unexpressed emotion, this book just seems empty. Kawabata's short story The Izu Dancer is similar again, and whilst not as good as Snow Comutry, is also better than A Thousand Cranes.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A certain charm, 9 April 2012
This review is from: Thousand Cranes (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
An easy read and an evocative story about love, desire and attraction in the context of ancient customs, in this case the Japanese tea ceremony. But as a novel I found this rather lacking in character development and plot. Not much actually happens, and when it does I didn't really feel very involved because we hadn't been made to care enough about the characters.

I read this because the author won a nobel prize for literature, and it's true there is a certain charm and sadness to the relationships between the main character, a wealthy man in his twenties, and an older woman, his dead father's ex-lover, who he finds himself attracted to, and also his attraction for a younger woman, who he wishes to marry.

But I expected more. There is a sparseness to the writing that perhaps goes too far, in that it leaves so much unsaid, and I felt that possibly the translation from the original Japanese could have been better, as often the English lacked finesse. So overall, worth reading, but don't expect a great novel.
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9 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A well-crafted but uninteresting attempt at austerity, 24 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
The book seems intriguing enough; it is said to be written with brush strokes, like a Japanese painting. In fact, I found it pompous, vapid, and self-enamored. True, it has charm in that it is not long-winded, and some of Kawabata's symbolism is well-crafted. What the book has in skill and craft it lacks in insight and interest.
Admittedly, Thousand Cranes is a book that every reader will react to somehow, which is makes it a better accomplishment than some other novels. Some readers will no doubt react with awe; I personally reacted with revulsion.
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Thousand Cranes (Penguin Modern Classics)
Thousand Cranes (Penguin Modern Classics) by Yasunari Kawabata (Paperback - 6 Jan. 2011)
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