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on 23 July 2012
Hauntingly beautiful and highly moving, Kawabata's 'Snow Country' is arguably his finest novel. 'Snow Country' is the story of Shimamura, a married man from Tokyo, whom travels sporadically into the Snow Country of the title, to visit Komako, a geisha he believes he loves. Kawabata's evocation of the largely unspoken, troubled love between Shimamura, who is forever a traveller, in this remote, traditional region of Japan, and the sensitive, but unpredictable alcoholic Komako, is breathtaking in its honest, complex and commendably unsentimental portrait of the apparent hopelessness for a truly happy love, between the two. Kawabata's depiction of the landscape is also one of the novel's highlights, a land he portrays with both a piercing realism, and also with an eye for its incredible, sometimes harsh, natural beauty. 'Snow Country' is a novel packed with images of the landscape which surrounds the couple, yet they compliment the quietly pained relationship of Shimamura and Komako, instead of ever getting in the way of it.

Although this is a text which focuses on tradition, Kawabata's writing techniques are often innovative and rather modern. The novel's often imperceptible shift between time frames, locations and conversations, heightens the sense of fragmentation both lovers feel, as well as Shimamura's shifts between location, and between memories - common for the traveller. There are no serious faults in 'Snow Country', which is an extremely rare thing for a novel - but if I were to have to highlight one misstep, it is fair to say that a few of the conversations between the couple are a bit too dull and repetitive; even if they do portray successfully, a kind of frustrated stagnation, in their relationship. However, to focus on this is akin to focusing on one errant brushstroke in a wonderful painting. Mesmerising, strange and yet utterly engaging, and gorgeously evoked, Kawabata's 'Snow Country' is one of the finest novels of the 20th century.
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on 2 March 2017
Intriguing but thin book with interesting insight into the lives of a country geisha and her lover and client from Tokyo Japanese characters. I liked the mindfulness of the narrator and the poetic descriptions of places and people in this small mountain spa town. Vivid pictures, sounds and smells were depicted.
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on 28 December 2017
Only four stars in average rate? This is a jewel-crafted novel that really stands out from thousands of books overcrowding the shelves of bookshops and libraries. Wbat a melancholic streaming of meditations on love and lust at old age along with ill-fated marriages! An everlasting masterpiece!
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on 3 January 2017
A thoughtful work (a theme of Japanese literature) which builds on the relationship between a geisha and a regular visitor to a small mountain retreat. The characters evolve in a pleasing way each meeting over several years.
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on 20 December 2012
I loved reading this novel about the ambiguous relationship between an idle Japanese man from Tokyo and a young Geisha who lives and works at a mountain resort where people go to ski in winter and get away from the city heat in summer. Nothing much happens in terms of action but the novel is very concerned with the characters psychology and mood. One of the most remarkable features of the book is the sudden vivid images of the countryside it conjures using very few words. The sight of a Persimon tree hung with scarlet fruit against the snow fields and background of mountains,for example. It is one of the most subtly sensuous books I have ever read: heat, cold, fire,ice, white faces, red skin, descriptions of cloth, of women's hair, of hot baths, of light, of the ubiquitous snow and mountains, are some of the images which make the book such a joy to read. It is a picture of a vanished world and like The Leopard it shows how charming but also how stultifying and rigid that world was.
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on 25 April 2018
classic of Kawabata. Read in Japanese years ago and I liked it better then.
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on 12 September 2014
This is a superb piece of writing, so far as I can judge from the translation. It is set in the period shortly after the Second World War. The central character, Shingo, is growing old, and beginning to suffer worrying lapses of memory. His two children are both experiencing marital troubles, so the serenity he might have hoped for is proving hard to find. Living with the consequences of decisions he made long ago, he is consoled by the affection of his daughter-in-law. Readers who require definite endings may be disappointed, but this is a beautiful read.
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on 21 September 2016
Unusual style. Interesting insight into Japanese culture and mentality. Attention to details and sensitivity to nature .Unexpected ending.
I enjoy Japanese literature for its uniqueness.
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on 9 April 2018
The nearest thing to a haiku novel I've read. At the end it felt like I'd woken from a beautiful dream.
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on 17 April 2013
As others have said the pleasure in this book comes from the different style of writing and finding out about a completely different world and culture , rather than the story and plot or even the characterisation. I'm glad I read it and would recommend it if you want to try something not run orun of the mill
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