Buy Study Guide Summary As the season of heaviest snows in the region of western Japan known as the "snow country" begins in December, the wealthy Tokyo dilettante Shimamura journeys to a hot spring town to see a woman who will later be called Komako he met there half a year ago. While on the train, he becomes fixated on Yoko , a girl of unusual beauty who is nursing a sick man, and he finds himself especially entranced by the reflection of her face on his window. Later when the train stops by a station and Yoko cries out to a stationmaster, Shimamura is also fascinated by the clarity of her voice. Arriving through the cold night at an inn in the town, Shimamura is startled to find the woman he knew, who has now become a geisha, waiting for him. The two go to his room and begin to talk, whereupon the story returns to their first encounter. At the time, Shimamura had just come down from a week of hiking in the mountains at the border of the village during the first time of spring.
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The greatest merit of this book is the descriptive power with which the author evokes the Japanese alpine scene. Seidenstricker, has done his work well. This is a finely written book, excellently translated. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole.
We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. Komaku is deeply in love with Shimamura, yet their relationship remains a somewhat strained one. Shimamura has the freedom to indulge himself, yet remains incapable of real connection.
Typically, he is fascinated by and writes about ballet -- without ever having seen an actual performance: Nothing could be more comfortable than writing about ballet from books. A ballet he had never seen was an art in another world. It was an unrivaled armchair reverie, a lyric from some paradise. He called his work research, but it was actually free, uncontrolled fantasy. He preferred not to savor the ballet in the flesh; rather he savored the phantasms of his own dancing imagination, called up by Western books and pictures.
It was like being in love with someone he had never met. He meant to bring them out in a small luxury edition at his own expense. The book would in all likelihood contribute nothing to the Japanese dancing world.
Shimamura finds pleasure in: "his sad little dream world". Komaku, with her feet much more on the ground, is drawn to him and finds in him and alcohol a form of escape -- except, of course, that he is not receptive enough to her needs and wishes; the escape remains always incomplete. Yoko -- a helper, rather than geisha -- repeatedly appears; Shimamura is clearly interested in her, but in part it is surely here very elusiveness that appeals to him. Komaku, meanwhile, goes out of her way to be part of his life -- but, as is also clear from how he readily ignores his actual family, Shimamura is a man who prefers "free, uncontrolled fantasy" to the tangible and real.
Snow Country is almost all atmosphere over incident. Little happens -- until the end, which is then all the more devastating and effective, the full tragedy of these three characters and their relationships to each other emerging in an icy finale.
He is, and yet she is still drawn to him, hoping perhaps to somehow reach inside, beyond that hardened outer layer. But Snow Country is no romantic tale -- or, at best, a hopelessly romantic one, with an emphasis on the hopeless aspects.
A strong, small work, brought to a devastating conclusion. Orthofer, 7 March
Kawabata writes with spareness and suggestion instead of writing overtly. The story offers a subtle character study on Shimamura. Rather, he mistakes pleasure and attention with love. As for Komako, she loves him but realizes how he uses her to ease his own boredom and discontent. The first meeting we see between Komako and Shimamura after a long separation highlights this tension: Abruptly, at the foot of the stairs, he shoved his left fist before her eyes, with only the forefinger extended. She let go his hand as they came to the kotatsu in his room, and suddenly she was red from the forehead to her throat.
Snow Country Summary and Analysis of Part 1 (pp. 3-33)
He had an older sister who was taken in by an aunt, and whom he met only once thereafter, at the age of ten July she died when he was However, in January , he moved into a boarding house near the junior high school comparable to a modern high school to which he had formerly commuted by train. He often gives the impression that his characters have built up a wall around them that moves them into isolation. Indeed, this does not have to be taken literally, but it does show the type of emotional insecurity that Kawabata felt, especially experiencing two painful love affairs at a young age. An unsent love letter to her was found at his former residence in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in He succeeded in the exam the same year and entered the Humanities Faculty as an English major July A young Kawabata, by this time, was enamoured by the works of another Asian Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.
The greatest merit of this book is the descriptive power with which the author evokes the Japanese alpine scene. Seidenstricker, has done his work well. This is a finely written book, excellently translated. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. Komaku is deeply in love with Shimamura, yet their relationship remains a somewhat strained one. Shimamura has the freedom to indulge himself, yet remains incapable of real connection.