Memoirs Of A Geisha By Arthur Golden

Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha is set in Japan from The Great Depression through just after World War II. A young girl named Chiyo moves from her small town in Yoroido to the big city to become a geisha. However, Chiyo misses her family, and an older geisha is determined to destroy her. One day, a man notices Chiyo crying in the streets, inspiring Chiyo to become Sayuri, a remarkable geisha. Will Sayuri have a happy ending?

Memoirs of a Geisha is this month’s May Readalong, and I have mixed feelings about this book. First, the pace is really slow. Usually, this is a detriment, but it is perfect for reading this over a month and having in-depth discussions.

The most enjoyable part of the book is the gamesmanship between the warring geisha, Mameha and Sayuri against Hatsumomo. Mameha knows how to perfectly extract herself from situations gracefully, and she is a true chess player, always thinking a few steps ahead.

I also enjoyed learning more about geisha. The women are entertainers, skilled in conversation, singing, dancing, and playing a musical instrument called the samisen. There are also certain hairstyles and clothing indicating different stages in the life of a geisha.

Now for the bad……

Memoirs of a Geisha has one of the most disappointing endings. It doesn’t even make sense, and for dragging on for ages, the ending is extremely rushed.

At the end of the book, I have more questions than when I started. Each of the geisha could have had their own book, and I felt that some of the characters were left a bit unfinished such as Sayuri’s sister.

And for the really bad….

I wanted to know if Memoirs of a Geisha was based on a true story. In the acknowledgements, Arthur Golden thanks Mineko Iwasaki, who is a real geisha. However, Iwasaki spoke to Golden on the condition of anonymity. She alleges that the book is her life’s story except that Golden falsely sexualized the book. Two years later, an out-of-court settlement was reached.

Overall, this book is great for discussion, but it made me feel sick. Thank to everyone who participated in the Readalong! See you in June for Little Women!

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Blog Twitter BookTube Facebook Insta 9780007229574 Damn if you aren't one of the most problematic things I've ever read, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Like much of non-Asian America, I was swept up in the delight of reading this book in 2000. I was fifteen and precocious, and the narrative was arresting. I couldn't put the book down. I wrote this in 2000:

Golden has hit pay dirt with this masterpiece. An insightful, curious, and caring look into the mysterious world of geisha, Arthur Golden peels away the ignorance and labeling that westerners have covered the secretive Japanese profession. Although it sinks at times into a near melodramatic prose, the book's protagonist is interesting, insightful, and enjoyable. Her witty anecdotes and thoughtful mannerisms in speaking make Memoirs of a Geisha a delightful and unstoppable read.

Then I got older, went to college and graduate school, and developed a critical, thinking eye.

And I'm mad at myself.

insightful? Really? God, I was naive. This novel, while entertaining is so problematic I rarely have time to descend into my criticism. It continues the Orientalism that Edward Said loathed so very much; rather than skillfully entering the world of a Japanese woman, it apes her identity, and ultimately deprives her of a voice, creating a sort of Orientalist imagination for us to enjoy without ever really seeing her. The book is still engaging as a narrative, but the sappy ending, the frankly sexist portrayals at some points, and Sayuri's outright inability to identify outside of her Chairman is rather frightening. It serves to objectify fetishism at its worst. Yet I can only give you three stars, because I'm still partly under your spell, Golden. Damn. 9780007229574 A timeless genre picture of a strong woman making the best out of terrible circumstances.

Not just the personal story of the main protagonist is very well written, it´s how Japans´culture and history are shown in a new perspective one wouldn´t have ever thought of because of the stigmas and prejudices the same men haunting the poor women are imposing on them with their conservative, misogynic policy.

The Asian way
Sexist male dominance manifested in many different forms and how the Japanese culture arranged prostitution has hardly ever been described in such memorable words, metaphors, and pictures. The strange thing is that all that glitter and glamour around it, letting it seem cultivated and less primitive, creates the disturbing impression that it´s not as bad as it is, something so cognitive biasy that it´s hard to stomach, understand, and put in context to the cultural impact, especially when comparing the very different approaches towards it around the world.

Prostituion by region
As so often, the Scandinavians set the best, new policies
, with „Neo-abolitionism - illegal to buy sex and for 3rd party involvement, legal to sell sex“ (that´s once a word with Neo that is not evil)
thereby making it illegal for the clients to buy sex and not criminalize the prostitutes. That´s an important approach away from victim blaming and slut shaming, the punishment of the female victims, and offender protection that is law in many other bigoted, conservative, sexist states, towards a more enlightened society. Critics like to claim that this would increase sexual violence and rape, but maybe just every sexual offender should be facing life imprisonment without any chance of probation, maybe including permanent chemical castration so that he can´t all the time happily masturbate to his snuff rape fantasies in his cell.

Traditions and culture of exploitation
According to the stereotypical calm, silent, mindful, and introverted Asian mentality, even the sex business is full of ceremonies, traditions, and elements that couldn´t have developed in other cultures with less focus on elegance and aesthetics. Of course, it´s still sick and disgusting, but at least it goes with the option for women to reach a certain status and adds art, culture, and class to the perverted mix.

Talent and obsession
It´s one of the greatest fiction without fantasy novels I´ve read, one of the rare cases when talent meets the lifelong interest of an author in a topic or culture and is distilled to something so amazing that it isn´t exaggerated to say that there might hardly be ever a similar novel written that has the same intensity in dealing with this theme.

Sociocultural impact of prostitution
What´s more bigoted, letting it all seem shiny, noble, and cultivated, hiding it or making it illegal or the open, direct, strangely still somewhat illegal, Western way? There is so much behind this, parts of it already mentioned in „Prostitution by region“, and it would take far too long to mention all the complexity, and especially misogyny, behind it. And who is causing and promoting it for millennia, and I don´t mean the male sex drive alone, but to what institutions, that make sex and love punished, abolished, or dominated by crazy, stupid rules full of sexism, hate, and misogyny, its degeneracy has mutated. The faithful creating hell on Earth for multi k years since the neolithic, first agricultural revolution to install bloody dictatorships, what a slogan.

I don´t know if there are hidden implications and innuendos about Western trade traditions, especially how to get bestselling products into the Chinese market,
I don´t get, but it seems quite probable that there is something deep lurking in the big history meta background. However, even without that, and me overanalyzing and seeing things that aren´t there as if high as heck, it´s always a great trope to get someone insane in the membrane to get the plot started, show ones´ brain on whatever, and how people slowly fall to pieces.

Subjective insecurity
This is absolutely not my genre, so my impression and subjective review might be more than incompetent regarding established rating standards, but I definitively like this different, character focused style of storytelling that teaches much about foreign cultures. Hopefully, the writer did his research and it´s accurate, because some reviewers seem to be critical regarding this fact. But, as said, I am an absolute amateur in reading protagonist´ focused stuff and just loved the show.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique: 9780007229574 I became fascinated with Japanese culture when I was a teenage girl and since then I have read many Japanese-related books and articles and have watched many movies and animes that depict parts of Japanese culture but the fact remains that I am not Japanese, I have never been to Japan and I am a foreigner, captivated by this exotic and very different culture.

As a foreigner, I see many beautiful and unique aspects to Japanese culture but I also know about certain painful historical facts such as treatment of women in certain eras of Japan. My point is, I don’t want to discuss accuracy of this book regarding Geisha life. I am not Japanese and I am not a historian and therefore, I am not qualified to judge. So I keep my opinion and impression Geisha to myself.

It appears that this story is based on the life of a certain geisha, but the author clearly states that both the story and characters are fictional and I am going to stick with that.

I admit that I was disappointed when I realized that this turned out to be fiction, only and only because I had been told otherwise by author himself while reading the preface. I mean, what’s with the contradiction? I couldn’t understand the pretense. Why pretend this is a real story when it’s a beautiful fiction? What’s wrong with fiction? I admit, as I reached the end of the book, I came to realize why the author tried to portray this story as a real life story when writing the introduction but I will write about that later.

I liked the writing style. Some people may find it pretentious but I understood that this is an attempt to write as close as possible to Japanese style of writing and story-telling and to seem poetic. The writing also helped me to see the world through Chiyo’s eyes and better understand her mind. I should mention that Chiyo and Sayuri are the same person.

Some people may say, parts of the story drag on and on and yet nothing important happens. I quickly get bored but I couldn’t put this book down once I had started reading and I had already seen the movie years ago. This is not a perfect book but it is an amazing one. Little Chiyo simply captivated me with her story.

I wanted her to survive, to fight and to find happiness. There isn’t a single character in this story that I actually hate. They are all different human-beings with flaws of their own that struggle to survive and get by their hard lives. Some choose to do so by crushing others and some choose to do so by fighting their way through and lending a helping hand when they can.

I might have had a few explosions regarding treatment of women and the way chiyo’s mind operates if I didn’t know Japanese culture at the time of this story well enough. I have Japanese friends, so I know what I am talking about it.

Chiyo is quite young when she falls in love with a man much older than her, too young in my opinion to fall in love but I understood her feelings. The moment she meets the love of her life, Chairman, is a turning point in her story and happens to be my most favorite part.
Yes, she focuses her entire life on reaching this man. As a woman, I would have liked her to have bigger goals and dreams of her own and for example, seek freedom or independence but when I think about her situation, her education and upbringing, I get her.

Chiyo is a slave, being trained for the sole purpose of pleasuring men. Men that mean nothing to her and are like alien beings. Up to this point, not a single person has shown her any kindness without ill intentions and when she is about to lose her faith in humanity, a man appears out of nowhere and shows her true kindness. Finally, a man means something to her. One of these men that she is supposed to serve has a face and value to her. I am not surprised she made it her life-purpose to reach him. I would have liked her to interact more with him during the course of the story but it wasn’t really necessary. Chairman was the man SHE wanted and SHE desired for herself. Considering her life, that was a big goal. And I didn’t really need to know more about Chairman. He was the symbol of true kindness. Her dedication to reach him was moving and touched me very deeply.

As I said before, during parts of this story, nothing important really happens, but I was eager to learn more about Geisha life. The author is obviously well-informed and has done his research. The story was interesting enough. All characters seemed real and relatable. I even liked Hatsumomo! And even though I wanted Chiyo to reach the love of her life and therefore happiness more than anything, I liked Nobu a lot too. He was a great man but it’s not like we can change our emotions or how we feel about different people and their behaviors whenever we want to. I could feel Sayuri’s misery and fear as she had to make decisions that would ultimately hurt people dear to her, from Pumpkin to Nobu. Sayuri is simply human. She too acts selfish and neglects her friends. I don’t blame her but I wish she had acted differently at certain times, at least regarding poor Pumpkin.

I also clearly felt the touch of war and the darkness that spreads over hearts and souls at such a time. The fear, pain and misery as everything changes and there is no longer any certainty to the future.

I was touched by the relationship between Chairman and Nobu, even though it was only behind the scene and between the lines. Once you think about it, it was a very deep and touching bond. Although poor Sayuri had to suffer because of this very bond, I understood why Chairman had to act the way he did.

The only part of the book that made me laugh and shake my head at the author, the AMERICAN author, was the part regarding American soldiers throwing candy at children. It was mentioned abruptly and I found it very funny. Two nuclear bombs and this is what Sayuri comments about. Yes, I am sure American soldiers weren’t as scary as they were supposed to be but they were still invaders. It takes time for certain wounds to heal. It’s not about American soldiers. It’s about war, invasion and loss!

At the end, this is not a fairy-tale. I am a fan of fairy tales and I firmly believe in happy endings. Ironic, since in real life, I am very realistic and even cynical. But when I open a book, I want happy endings. Somewhere along the way, I had started to dream of a fairy-tale style happy ending for little Chiyo and reading the last pages of the book left me a little sad. That’s why as I mentioned above, it was after finishing the book that I understood why the author has tried to sell this story as a real one. All throughout the book, the story tries to remain realistic(Which is why sometimes nothing really happens) and it's important to remember this, when reading the bittersweet ending, Otherwise, the ending might feel a little unsatisfactory and even rushed. But the truth is, the bittersweet ending was still a happy ending, just a realistic one. Still, I wasn’t 100% happy with it. I agree that the author could have done better just by adding 50 pages or so.

In conclusion, this is the beautiful story of a little innocent girl as she fights her way through life and hardships in an unfair society and struggles to reach her loved one and have a reason to simply wake up every day and live. This is not a fairy tale but it does contain certain elements of those tales therefore this book is not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it and find it very memorable and special.
9780007229574 This book was wonderful. I absolutely love the movie, which I now need to watch!

In many ways, this was a sad story for me. I would really like to read a biography of a geisha and watch a documentary to really look into their world.

We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.

Happy Reading!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 9780007229574

This seductive and evocative epic tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. It reveals the cruelty and ugliness of life behind the rice-paper screens, and summons up more than 20 years of Japan's most dramatic history. Memoirs Of A Geisha

Like eating fancy dessert at a gourmet restaurant, Memoirs of a Geisha is beautiful, melts lightly off the tongue and will be forgotten shortly after it's done. The language is strikingly lovely, and Golden paints a remarkable picture of a time and place.

If you're looking to learn something deep about the psychology of Japanese culture, or meet nuanced characters, then I'd steer you elsewhere. The story only skims the top of the more complicated aspects of a Japan in decline, focusing mostly on a genteel lifestyle that probably seems more appealing from the outside. There's a way in which the book, written by a man and a westerner, is slightly fetishistic, but less so than you might imagine.

Another reader suggested that perhaps the superficiality of the story is intentional, and that the book, in a way, resembles a geisha. Beautiful and eager to please, yet too distant to really learn much from and ultimately little more than a beautiful, well-crafted object to be appreciated. If that's the case, Arthur Golden is remarkably clever, and I applaud him. If it's not the case, the book remains very pretty and an easy read. 9780007229574
So.. Memoirs of a Geisha. I'd been wanting to read that one for a very long time. I had heard so many good things about it. It's supposed to be awesome, and deep, and beautiful, right?
Wrong. It's not.

The writing was what bothered me the most. It's pretentious and superficial, and sloooooww and it goes on and on and on and on and on and still, very little happens. In some sort of weird combination, the writing is both superficial and cliché. It feels like Golden thought it would be a good idea to emphasize all the Japan-and-nature clichés to the point of ridiculousness : I still can't believe how many times he compares something to the nature. Ironically, it doesn't feel natural at all. It feels forced and weird and and it's very annoying, as it slows down the pacing (which is already very slow) and frequently interrupts the narrator's flow of thoughts.

Examples? Yes, yes. Because I was so sick and tired of reading for the 40th time how something is LIKE a bird or a snake or whatever, I made a list. Enjoy, people.

This is how Sayuri narrates the story. Please notice and enjoy how natural this way of thinking sounds :

I felt as a dam must feel when it's holding back an entire river.

I felt as sore as a rock must feel when the waterfall has pounded on it all day long.

My poor scalp felt the way clay must feel after the potter has scored it with a sharp stick.

And it goes on :

Like water bugs kicking along the surface.

Like the crisp skin of a grilled fish.

Like a scrap of paper in the wind.

Like ruts in the bark of a tree.

And on :
Like a pig trying to survive in a slaughterhouse.

Like a stray cat on the street without a master to feed it.

My mind on the eve of my debut was like a garden in which the flowers have only begun to poke their faces up through the soil.

It was like when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.

Out of my element as a pigeon in a nest of falcons.

Felt as a simple smelt must feel when a silver salmon glides by.

Still not enough? I was hoping you'd say that. Here you go!

So yeah. Just because of that, it can't get more than 2 stars for me. It just can't. It's awful to read.

And the characters. *SIGH* What can I say about them? Hatsumomo was just a big cliché, and so was Pumpkin, and so was The Chairman.

They didn't feel real. None of them did. Sayuri on top. So I'm supposed to feel something for her, right? Relate to her somehow. That was impossible. I don't know why, but somehow I was able to relate to Chiyo - but not to Sayuri. Even though they're the same person, I couldn't bring myself to care for Sayuri. As soon as she grows up (even though she keeps telling her story with the skills of a freakin' 4 year old) so around the time when she becomes a geisha, that is, she becomes insufferable.

And she has this sort of weird fascination for adult men, first M. Tanaka and after The Chairman, and it's just so annoying. Why does she like them? Why?

And, yeah, she was also such a victim. She never made anything to change her condition, she was just this kind of submissive woman who, well, blinks and, I dunno, bows. I know it's the way she's supposed to behave, but still, it's infuriatingly boring to read about such a character. The only thing she ever does for herself is but even that is done in the purpose of eventually being with The Chairman. And who was he, that Chairman? Who was that man we hear about, again and again and again? What's he like? Have they ever had a real conversation? I don't think so. She idealizes him, she never sees him as who he really is, she just keeps wetting holding that stupid handkerchief every night and that annoyed me. It felt childish and weird.

The only character I liked was Mameha, and she's the angel of the story, meaning that you're just supposed to like her because she's, well, perfect, kind, loyal and beautiful, the way Agnes is in David Copperfield or Melanie in Gone With The Wind.

The informations about Geishas were nice, I suppose, but I don't know how much of it is true. The war was awfully, awfully boring, and very badly executed.

I think you can see it was written by an American just by the way the United States are depicted. They atomically bombarded Japan and two of greatest its cities and yet, Sayuri doesn't even blink and say The American troups were very kind to us and gave candy to the children. Er... Really?

The plot dragged on and on, and I had to struggle to finish the book. The ending felt rushed. I hate, hate it when authors do that. He wrote a whole book about someone's life, and the final chapter is soo rushed and it goes like So that was forty years ago, now I'm seventy and I'm old and I'm gonna tell you what happened in my life between then and now in like, two sentences. So I married the guy I talked so much about, and then we went to live in the USA because that's like ZOMG the best country EVAR! And then he died, and.. Ah yes.. Did we have a kid? Oh, but wouldn't you like to know!.. Well you won't, cause I'm not telling you, neener- neener. Whatever I'm old, and I'm probably gonna die now LIKE A BIRD THAT FLIES AWAY, because what would be the final sentence without a nature-related comparaison, huh? Right. I swear, the book probably deserves an award, for like Worst Ending Chapter Ever or something. It made no sense, it gave no real closure.

Everything in this book was just so... flat. It tried to be epic and it tried to be a classic but it failed so badly. The characters weren't well fleshed-out, it was obvious that the Good people (Sayuri, Mahema) would triumph over the Bad (Hatsumomo), it was obvious that Sayuri would get her happy ending after all..

See, all throughout the book, I was completely disconnected, I didn't feel anything. I didn't smile, or laugh, I certainly didn't cry. I can't even say I'm angry or that I hate the book - because hatred requires that I care, and I don't. I'm just... indifferent. Bored. Unimpressed. And isn't it the worst state of mind you can possibly be in after you finish a book? Ultimately, it didn't leave a mark.

So the book as a whole was a major disappointment and I'm glad it's over. I just hope the movie might be better - I kept thinking it would be better to watch it, seeing how graphic the descriptions were (of the kimonos, for example). [Edit: So I saw the movie. Meeeh.]

But as a book, it was unconvincing and very flawed. 9780007229574 Memoirs of a Geisha is an American novel, and as such the attempt at West does East, especially on the complex and delicate subject of the geisha, is compelling, interesting, but also heavy-handed and ultimately ineffective (even more so in the case of the film). It is a wonderful introduction to geisha, Japanese culture, and the East for the uninitiated Western reader, and I can see why the book is popular, but I found it disappointing. For the reader already familiar with the culture, western influences are all too clear and the book comes off as a bit clunky and imperfect. I also had some problems with the general perception of the characters by readers versus the way the characters were actually portrayed in the book--Memoirs is far from the good-willed fairy tale that people assume it is. By all means, read it, but leave it open for critique and remember that a more authentic representation of eastern culture, especially in the details, will come from the east itself.

A lot of my critique stems from the fact that this movie has attained such wide-spread fame and been made into a movie, to be sure. I feel like it is being perpetuated as something it is not. Even the introduction to the book (a faux translator's note) perpetuates the myth that Memoirs is an accurate, beautiful, in-depth reflection of the life of a geisha, when in truth it is no more that historical fiction and is written by an outsider. Golden has done his research and is well-educated on his subjects, and I have no problem with people reading from, taking interest in, and even learning from this book; I do, however, think it is important that readers don't conflate the American novel with Japanese reality. They aren't the same thing, no matter how much research Golden did, and if we take the book as an accurate representation we're actually underestimating and undervaluing geisha, Japan, and Japanese culture.

Because Golden attempts to write from within the geisha culture, as a Japanese woman, he must do more than report the facts of that life--he must also pretend to be a part of it. Pretend he does, acting out a role as if he has studied inflection, script, and motivation. He certainly knows what makes writing Japanese but his attempt to mimic it is not entirely successful. The emphasis on elements, the independent sentences, the visual details are too prevalent and too obvious, as if Golden is trying to call our attention to them and thus to the Japanese style of the text. He does manage to draw attention, but to me, at least, what I came away with was the sense that Golden was an American trying really hard to sound Japanese--that is, the effect betrayed the attempt and the obvious attempt ruined the sincerity of the novel, for me. I felt like I was being smacked over the head with beauty! wood! water! kimono! haiku! and I felt insulted and disappointed.

The problems that I saw in the text were certainly secondary to the purpose of the text: to entertain, to introduce Western readers to Japanese culture, and to sell books (and eventually a film). They may not be obvious to all readers and they aren't so sever that the book isn't worth reading. I just think readers need to keep in mind that what Golden writes is fiction. Historical fiction, yes, but still fiction, therefore we should look for a true representation of Japanese culture within Japanese culture itself and take Memoirs with a grain of salt.

I also had problems with the rushed end of the book, the belief that Sayuri is a honest, good, modest, generous person when she really acts for herself and at harm to others throughout much of the book, the perpetuation of Hatsumomo as unjustified and cruel when she has all the reason in the world, and in general the public belief that Memoirs is some sort of fairy tale when in fact it is heavy-handed, biased, and takes a biased or unrelatistic view toward situations, characters, and love. However, all of those complains are secondary, in my view, to the major complain above, and should be come obvious to the reader.

Memoirs goes quickly, is compelling, and makes a good read, and I don't want to sound too unreasonably harsh on it. However, I believe the book has a lot of faults that aren't widely acknowledged and I think we as readers need to keep them in mind. This is an imperfect Western book, and while it may be a fun or good book it is not Japanese, authentic, or entirely well done. 9780007229574 (Book 93 From 1001 Books) - Memoirs of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha is a historical novel by American author Arthur Golden, published in 1997.

The novel, told in first person perspective, tells the story of a fictional geisha working in Kyoto, Japan, before and after World War II.

In 1929, nine year-old Chiyo Sakamoto and her 15 year-old sister, Satsu, are sold by their father to work within the entertainment districts of Kyoto.

They are taken from their home, the coastal fishing village of Yoroido along the Sea of Japan, and travel to Kyoto by train; upon arrival, Chiyo is taken to the Nitta okiya (geisha boarding house) in Gion, whereas Satsu - deemed less attractive and therefore a poor investment - is instead taken to a brothel within Kyoto's pleasure district.

Chiyo is taken inside, and is introduced to Auntie, Mother (Auntie's adoptive older sister and the matriarch of the house) and Granny, their elderly and poor-natured adoptive mother and the okiya's former mother.

Both Auntie and Mother are strict, though Auntie is kinder to Chiyo, whereas Mother is driven by money and business.

Chiyo is also introduced to Hatsumomo - the premier geisha of the okiya, its primary earner, and one of the most famous, beautiful and ill-mannered geisha of Gion.

Hatsumomo takes an instant disliking to Chiyo, and goes out of her way to torment her. Auntie warns Chiyo against both angering and trusting Hatsumomo, knowing the ill-mannered geisha's true nature very well. ...

خاطرات یک گیشا - آرتور گلدن (سخن) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در ماه مارس سال 2003میلادی

عنوان: خاطرات یک گیشا؛ نوشته: آرتور گلدن؛ مترجم: مریم بیات؛ تهران، سخن، 1380، در 640ص؛ شابک 9646961703؛ موضوع: داستان - ژاپن - تاریخ از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا- سده 20م

نمیدانم، یادم نمانده، کدامیک از سالهای بگذشته بود، که برای نخستین بار، یک پی.دی.اف از همین کتاب، با ترجمه ی بانو «مریم بیات»، برایم رسید، برنامه ای نوشتم، تا متن پی.دی.اف را به فارسی آفیس نسخه 2003میلادی برگردانم، بسیار سخت گذشت، بارها و بارها برنامه را مجبور شدم هوشمندتر کنم، تا اینکه کتاب را پس از تلاش بسیار، در 174733کلمه، و در 409صفحه ی 31سطری، و هر سطر میانگین 22واژه، و هر واژه میانگین بیش از چهار حرف، برای خویش آراستم، البته باز هم مجبور شدم، بیشتر صفحات را ویراستاری کنم

نقل نمونه متن: (یادداشت «آرتور گلدن»: چهارده ساله بودم، که در غروبی در بهار سال 1936میلادی، پدرم مرا به تماشای یک برنامه ی رقص، در «کیوتو» برد؛ از آن برنامه، تنها دو چیز را به یاد دارم؛ نخست اینکه من و پدرم، تنها تماشاچی غربی در میان تماشاگران بودیم، تنها دو سه هفته بود که از کشورمان «هلند»، به آنجا سفر کرده بودیم، بنابراین هنوز نتوانسته بودم، خود را با انزوای فرهنگی تطبیق دهم، و تاثیر آن بر من هنوز فوق العاده زیاد بود؛ دوم اینکه خوشحال بودم، که پس از ماهها فراگیری زبان «ژاپنی»، آنهم به صورت فشرده، میتوانستم از حرفهایی که میشنیدم، جسته گریخته، چیزی سر دربیاورم؛ از زنهای جوان «ژاپنی»، که روی صحنه میرقصیدند، به جز اشکالی مبهم، از «کیمونو»های الوان درخشانی که، بر تن داشتند، چیزی به یاد ندارم؛ مسلم است که به هیچ راه، به ذهنم هم خطور نمیکرد، که در زمان و مکانی بسیار دور، یعنی تقریباً پنجاه سال بعد، و در مکانی به دوری «نیویورک»، یکی از همان زنان، نزدیکترین دوستم خواهد شد، و خاطرات استثنایی اش را برایم تقریر خواهد کرد؛ در جایگاه یک تاریخ نگار، همیشه خاطرات را به چشم منبعی از مواد نگاه میکنم؛ خاطرات، سوابقی را فراهم میآورد، که بیشتر به دنیای خاطره نویس، تا خود او مربوط است؛ خاطرات با «بیوگرافی» فرق دارد، چون در «بیوگرافی»، خاطره نویس نمیتواند، جنبه هایی را ببیند، که برای «بیوگراف» نویس، امری عادی و منطقی است؛ «اتوبیوگرافی»، البته اگر واقعاً چنین چیزی وجود داشته باشد، به این میماند، که از خرگوش بخواهیم برایمان بگوید: وقتی توی علفزار، بالا و پایین میپرد، به چه شکل درمیآید؟ از کجا بداند؟ از طرفی، اگر بخواهیم چیزی در مورد علفزار بدانیم، هیچ کس بهتر از او، نمیتواند برای ما آنرا توصیف کند، مگر آنکه در نظرمان باشد، که در جستجوی چیزهایی هستیم، که خرگوش، قادر به مشاهده ی آنها نیست؛ ....)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 28/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 09/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیان�� 9780007229574 ”Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper. “

Geisha Mineko Iwasaki basis for Chiyo/Sayori.

Chiyo, with her sister Satsu, and her mother and father live in a shack by the sea on the coast of Japan. The shack leans, and has to be propped up to keep from total collapse. Her mother is sick and on the verge of death. Her father is a fisherman, uneducated, and generally befuddled by anything that doesn’t have to do with his fishing nets. When a businessman from the village comes to them with an offer to take their girls to the city it doesn’t take much to convince the father that nearly any opportunity is better than staying there in the tilted shack by the sea.

He was wrong. Or was he? Without a crystal ball or access to a series of timelines showing the variations created by changing key decisions at critical junctures how can we know?

Satsu, who is fifteen, is promptly placed with a brothel. Not exactly what her father had in mind. I’m sure he was told she would be trained for “domestic service”. Chiyo, who is nine, is deemed young enough to be trained to be a geisha. She is a lovely child with startling rare gray/blue eyes.

Those Blue Eyes are what set her apart.

The Mother of her geisha house is equally startling in appearance.

”Instead of being white and clear, the whites of her eyes had a hideous yellow cast, and made me think at once of a toilet into which someone had just urinated. They were rimmed with the raw lip of her lids, in which a cloudy moisture was pooled, and all around them the skin was sagging.”

Obvious a bit of a failing liver issue going on here, but wait she is really much more mugly.

”I drew my eyes downward as far as her mouth, which still hung open. The colors of her face were all mixed up: the rims of her eyelids were red like meat, and her gums and tongue were gray. And to make things more horrible, each of her lower teeth seemed to be anchored in a little pool of blood at the gums.”

Okay so Chiyo lets out a gasp. She starts out her new life in trouble.

It doesn’t end there. She is quickly considered a threat to the lovely and vindictive Hatsumomo who is the only fully trained geisha working for the house. Chiyo is accused of stealing (not true). She is accused of ruining an expensive kimono with ink (true but under duress). She is caught trying to escape ( she broke her arm in the process so try and give the kid a break). Well, all of this ends up costing her two years working as a housemaid when she could have been training as a geisha.

She receives an unexpected benefactress, a mortal enemy of Hatsumomo named Mameha decides to take Chiyo under her wing and insure that she has another opportunity to become a geisha.

Chiyo, tired of scrubbing floors and being the do-this and do-that girl of the household realizes her best chance at some form of freedom is to elevate herself.

The Movie based on this book was released in 2005 and directed by Rob Marshall.

At age 15 her virginity or mizuage is put up for auction. It is hard not to think of this as a barbaric custom, but for a geisha, if a bidding war erupts, she can earn enough money to pay off all the debts that have accumulated for her training. Chiyo, now called Sayuri, is fortunate to have two prominent men wanting to harvest her flower. The winner is Dr. Crab who paid a record amount for the privilege.

”Of course his name wasn’t really Dr. Crab, but if you’d seen him I’m sure the same name would have occurred to you, because he had his shoulders hunched up and his elbows sticking out so much, he couldn’t have done a better imitation of a crab if he’d made a study of it. He even led with one shoulder when he walked, just like a crab moving along sideways.”

Not the vision that any girl would have for her first time, but ultimately it is a business transaction that frees Sayori from the bonds of debt. After the deed is done, the eel spit in the cave, Dr. Crab brought out a kit filled with bottles that would have made Dexter jealous. Each bottle has a blood sample, soaked in a cotton ball or a piece of towel of every geisha he has ever treated including the blood from his couplings for their virginity. He cuts a piece of blood soaked towel that was under Sayori and added it to the bottle with her name.

Ewwehhh! with a head snapping *shiver*.
The cultural obsession, every country seems to have one, with female virginity is simply pathological. Girls can’t help, but be fearful of the process. Not strapped to a table by a serial killer type fear, but still there has to be that underlying hum as the man prepares to enter her. I wonder if men, especially those who avidly pursue the deflowering of maidens, are getting off on that fear? I’ve made myself feel a little queasy now.

Sayori is on her way to a successful career. She is in love with a man called The Chairman and wishes that he will become her danna, a patron, who can afford to keep a geisha as a mistress. There are people in the way, keeping them from being together, and so even though there were many geishas who wished for her level of success she still couldn’t help feeling sad.

”And then I became aware of all the magnificent silk wrapped about my body, and had the feeling I might drown in beauty. At that moment, beauty itself struck me as a kind of painful melancholy. “

It was fascinating watching this young girl grow up in such a controlling environment; and yet, a system that can also be very deadly. One misstep, one bit of scandal, and many geishas found themselves ostracized by the community. They could very easily find themselves in a brothel. During WW2 the geisha community was disbanded, and the girls had to find work elsewhere. Sayori was fortunate. Despite all the hardships I know she was enduring, Arthur Golden chose not to dwell on them in great detail. I was surprised by this because authors usually want and need to press home those poignant moments, so that when the character emerges from the depths of despair the reader can have a heady emotional response to triumph over tragedy.

I really did feel like I was sitting down for tea with Sayori, many years later, and she, as a way of entertaining me, was telling me her life story. Golden interviewed a retired geisha by the name of Mineko Iwasaki who later sued him for using too much of her life story to produce this book. She even had light brown eyes not as striking as Sayori's blue/gray eyes, but certainly light enough to be unusual. I wonder if Iwasaki was still the perfect geisha, keeping her story uplifting, and glossing over the aspects that could make her company uncomfortable.

Mineko Iwasaki

The book is listed in the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It was also made into a film, which I’ve been avoiding, knowing that I wanted to read the book first. I notice some reviewers take issue with Sayori. They feel she did not assert herself, and take control of her life. She does in the end, but she is patient, and waits for a moment when she can predict the outcome. I feel that she did what she needed to do to survive. Most of the time she enjoyed being a geisha. It takes a long time to learn not only the ways to entertain, but also all the rigid traditions that must be understood to be a successful geisha. As she gets older, and can clearly define the pitfalls of her actions, we see her manipulating the system in her favor.

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