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The Lake [Paperback]

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Item description for The Lake by Yasunari Kawabata & Reiko Tsukimura...

The Lake is the history of an obsession. It traces a man's sad pursuit of an unattainable perfection, a beauty out of reach, admired from a distance, unconsummated. Homeless, a fugitive from an ambiguous crime, his is an incurable longing that drives him to shadow nameless women in the street and hide in ditches as they pass above him, beautiful and aloof. For their beauty is not of this world, but of a dream-the voice of a girl he meets in a Turkish bath is "an angel's," the figures of two students he follows seem to "glide over the green grass that hid their knees." Reality is the durable ugliness that is his constant companion and is symbolized in the grotesque deformity of the hero's feet. And it is the irreconcilable nature of these worlds that explains the strangely dehumanized, shadowy quality of the eroticism that pervades this novel.
In a sense The Lake is a formless novel, a "happening," making it one of the most modern of all Kawabata's works. Just as the hero's interest might be caught by some passing stranger, so the course of the novel swerves abruptly from present to past, memory shades into hallucination, dreams break suddenly into daylight. It is an extraordinary performance of free association, made all the more astonishing for the skill with which these fragments are resolved within the completed tapestry.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   159
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.25"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 8, 2004
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770030010  
ISBN13  9784770030016  

Availability  0 units.

More About Yasunari Kawabata & Reiko Tsukimura

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Yasunari Kawabata was born in Osaka in 1899. In 1968 he became the first Japanese writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. One of Japan's most distinguished novelists, he published his first stories while he was still in high school, graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1924. His short story "The Izu Dancer," first published in 1925, appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1955. Kawabata authored numerous novels, including Snow Country (1956), which cemented his reputation as one of the preeminent voices of his time, as well as Thousand Cranes (1959), The Sound of the Mountain (1970), The Master of Go (1972), and Beauty and Sadness (1975). He served as the chairman of the P.E.N. Club of Japan for several years and in 1959 he was awarded the Goethe-medal in Frankfurt. Kawabata died in 1972.

Yasunari Kawabata was born in 1899 and died in 1972.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Japanese

Reviews - What do customers think about The Lake?

Excellent Portrait of a Stalker  Aug 9, 2008
According to Donald Keene, The Lake (Mizuumi), and The House of Sleeping Beauties, represent Kawabata Yasunari at his most mature. It is not as well known as Snow Country but it is revelant today. Especially with the news showing countless stories of young girls being abducted by creepy looking pedohilies who become registered sex offenders. The Lake is a novel about the middle aged former school teacher named Gimpei, who spends his days stalking various women. Kawabata could judge his character but he shows a great deal of tact by painting a human portrait that allows the reader to make up their own mind. I like the fact that he's not preaching morals in this book.
The novel's strength is the way inwhich Kawabata uses time to move between periods of Gimpei's past. Kawabata does this so subtle and skillfully that, as a reader, you aren't really aware of it but you know that you have left the present for the moment. It is also interesting how Kawabata uses different colors through the text to create visuals that you can picture as you read along. I like the associations that exist in Gimpei's mind that show how far from reality he really is. For instance, a baby is crawling near him and he thinks its a dead baby that he abandoned years ago. This shows Kawabata's skill in writing psychological fiction. There are others examples of how Gimpei thinks he sees something that in reality turns out to be nothing to him but it causes Gimpei's mind to relate to objects and surroundings and regress into his past. In fact the whole novel is a regression into a happier time for Gimpei when he first fell in love at the lake.
Overall this is an entertaining and quick read that shows how one character decides to view his own reality which lead to his reaction to it. Gimpei is strange when you get inside his head to see what's clicking.
This is my first time reading Kawabata and next up for me is The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa.
Minor Work  Mar 31, 2006
First, I'm going to agree with several other reviewers and say that this is not the best place to start if you're unfamiliar with Kawabata. My guess is that this novel, much like "Thousand Cranes", is probably unfinished. Kawabata was notorious about continuously rewriting and adding to fiction that had long been published, and "The Lake" ends so precariously and with so much unfinished business that I can't see how it can be considered whole and complete. The final chapter reads more like an outline than prose, and several of the major characters introduced in the middle of the novel never reappear again, which left me a little aggravated--because their story-line was more interesting to me than Gimpei's.

That said, I love Kawabata and there's enough in this novel to make it worth reading despite its glaring problems. Gimpei's behavior is erratic and difficult to fathom--one striking image illustrating this is a scene toward the end where he's hiding in a ditch waiting for a young girl he admires to pass by--as he sits waiting he notices a flower growing from a crack in the wall. He leans over and then eats the flower. Gimpei's life is full of these odd moments, and his mind wanders haphazzardly through the moments of his life making distant correlations between what was, what is, and what could never have been.

The book can be frustrating at times. Gimpei's free associations of memory with moment sometimes bog down the flow of the narrative, which left me feeling dioriented and unsatisfied. Some of the metaphor is a bit too opaque, even for Kawabata, while some of the metaphor is so striking that you wish you'd thought of it. There's also a lot here for such a small book--too much, and that causes the narrative to lose focus, I think. Kawabata seems to be throwing in all sorts of narrative threads to see what sticks--some interesting, some lame, and none of which ever reach any real resolution.

Overall, I'd say if you're a fan, read this. If you're new to Kawabata, start with "Sound of the Mountain" or "Snow Country".
Penned with whetted description and passion  Dec 12, 2004
Compellingly written by Yasunari Kawabata (the author of the classic "Snow Country" and Japan's first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), The Lake is the story of a stalker. He is homeless, fugitive from an unknown crime, and driven to trail the women he meets as he wanders. He longs for their beauty yet his desire remains unconsumated. The hallmark of free association that allows the reader to speculate upon human minds and motives is prevalent in "The Lake", a narrative that circulates back time and again to the body of water that forms its name and the people who live alongside it. Very highly recomended reading, The Lake is a rich literary experience penned with whetted description and passion.
A voyage into the mind of a stalker of young girls  Nov 15, 2004
Lakes are mysteries, dark bodies of water that swallow secrets and hide those parts of ourselves better left submerged. Bodies are dumped in lakes, along with stolen cars and used weapons of violence. In "The Lake," Kawabata has used this metaphor for his protagonist, the unsettled and possibly psychotic Gimpei Momoi, who's mind swirls past and present and make-believe into one massive body of water, under which the corpse of his father lies sleeping.

It is hard to spend 160-odd pages in the mind of Gimpei, stalker and luster of young girls. His story fluxuates constantly, changing in an instant from his childhood desire for his cousin Yayoi, to his disastrous affair with his High School student Hisako, to his pursuit of the pure 15-year old Machie, or the bath house girl with the voice of an angel. Interspersed roughly with this mix is the tale of Miyako, a sad beauty who sold her youth to an old man for money. Gimpei's thoughts are those of his nature, a dark and lonely pursuer navigating the unlit corners and ditches of other's worlds, a dangerous and haggard animal prowling the fence.

Kawabata's technique used in "The Lake" is quite experimental, and different from his more-famous works. Aside from the dark story, elements of which can be found in most Kawabata, the shifting narrative and abrupt transitions and endings can be off-putting to those expecting a more naturally flowing story. Personally, I found the jump-cuts and unresolved nature of the writing to be complementary to the tale of Gimpei, with the overall effect leaving me uncomfortable and uneasy with the world, which is the stories goal.
A Tangled Web  May 15, 2003
Another of Kawabata's masterpieces, The Lake is even less structured than his other work. Told through a series of shifting narrators, the story mainly concerns Gimpei, on the run from the law for an unknown crime. We become intimately acquainted with Gimpei, who turns out to be a real creep: he spends most of his time following beautiful women. Though flashbacks that are carefully woven in to the narrative, we learn Gimpei past: his unrequited love for his cousin Yayori, his destructive affair with his student Hisako, and his possessive madness - he would rather have the objects of his affection dead than with another. The books shifts it's focus slightly at times, turning to the people who come into contact with Gimpei, and revealing how closely connected they all are without even realizing it. It is this tangled web of relationships, both direct and indirect, that make this work so enjoyable. A wonderful book, although some readers may find the character of Gimpei so repugnant that they may abandon the book before it's finish.

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