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Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's in it for me? Sand., 10 May 2010
This review is from: The Woman in the Dunes (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Novels in translation always present at least twice their share of pitfalls for the reviewer, or even the reader. A translated novel has to be approached as a package, experienced as such and reviewed in kind. After reading The Woman In The Dunes by Kobo Abe I am presented with a wholly new dilemma, however.

An entomologist disappears while out bug hunting. He finds himself a virtual prisoner in a sand pit, a pit inhabited by a woman with whom he soon finds a predictable solace. He tries to escape, and does not. He dreams of escape, and does not achieve his goal. The characteristics of his new environment seem to contradict all of his assumptions. Nothing helps.

The Woman In The Dunes might be described as absurd. Equally, the term nihilistic might be appropriate. It might even be deliberately trivial. As such it presents an intellectual challenge to the reader who, of necessity, must constantly interpolate the banality of the book's inaction into a sub-text of potentially enormous significance. I say "potentially" enormous significance because I remain unsure, having finished the book, whether any significance at all might apply. But then again, perhaps that's the point.

The Woman In The Dunes has been likened to Kafka's Trial or the absurdity of Samuel Beckett's plays. As an experience, however, none of the suspense of the former nor the bald linguistic power of the latter. Perhaps the novel's rather one-paced prose was a true reflection of the original. If so, then I might suggest that the writer rather over-stated his point.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 May 2016, 04:09:52 BST
I feel in the end the story is more about what Junpei is not understanding and the woman is. You can see it's a guy desperate to get laid. Hate he can't. Hate on women that he can't. Then hate on men. Hate on himself. Feel the women is an insect. Feel he himself is an insect. Have a Gregor Samsa moment but in view of the woman. I think he is just a weirdo Junpei that is. I like the book as it has some depth. But it isn't as excellent as it could have been. *spoiler* the woman escapes at the end and he chooses to stay as if he hopes another woman comes along and he can live with her in this "coerced household" and maybe even have sex and maybe feel like a breeding insect? I think even if he stuck with another man he would have relationships with him too because he is a desperate guy looking for intimacy. I feel the woman was smart and acted all along to escape the prison as well but she did it with temporary compliance. *spoiler end* Not a bad book. It does some thought-provoking passages and some cool info. But Junpei is a boring jerk.
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Location: La Nucia, Spain

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