Snow Country

雪国 [Yukiguni]
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Vintage
1948
eBook
175
Japanese
Edward G. Seidensticker
August 23, 2021 September 23, 2021
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Nobel Prize recipient Yasunari Kawabata's Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer's masterpiece, a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan.

At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome. In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages, a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.


About the book

Snow Country is a novel set in Japan in 1930. The plot is not complicated, it is almost absent but what stands out in this story is the setting. We are in fact in the north of the largest island of Japan where it snows a lot during the winter and the style of the book, is a bit aseptic, like the environment.

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Nagasaki

Nagasaki
,

Gallucci
July 30th 2015
eBook
127
Japanese
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August 18, 2021 August 21, 2021
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One of the greatest Japanese authors, never published before in Italy, relives the bombing of Nagasaki in August 1945. A memory that continues to burn in the bodies and minds of survivors and is renewed with fear of modern nuclear accidents. "The darkness vanished, making room for a light between blue and red, the color of hydrangea when it begins to bloom. It wasn't hot, it wasn't cold. It looked like a ghostly light as solid as a wall "

Translated here for the first time in Italian, Kyoko Hayashi is an absolute reference point for the memory of the atomic bomb and the elaboration of that event of absolute destruction. She the author has always considered herself a "witness of August 9" and as such she has taken on the narrative of the nuclear holocaust so that she does not sink into oblivion and maintain her value as a warning for future generations. In the short story "The Two Tomb Signs" the facts of Nagasaki are seen through the story of two teenage girls, Yòko and Wakako. "The place of the rite" retraces the days following the bombing to cover a span of thirty years. "Il jarattolo" tells of the survivors living with the terror of the consequences of the atomic bomb, while "II crop" expresses fears for the contamination generated by the civil use of nuclear power.


About the book

The book is a collection of four short stories, plus a note from the author (please read the note) and a note from the curator of the book. The stories are: Two Grave Markers, The Empty Can, Ritual of Death and “The Harvest” not translated into English. The first is a heartbreaking tale of two friends struck by the atomic bomb, the second is the story of a group of friends who years later find themselves at their old school and remember one of their friends who always kept a tin can with her after the atomic bomb, the third is a first-person story of a survivor and the fourth differs a lot from the common thread of the atomic bomb because it speaks of the Tokaimura disaster of ’99 (or rather it is inspired, because I don’t remember reading this name in the story but most likely if there were the name, I didn’t connect it since I didn’t know what happened).

Now, where do I start? I have so much to say that my mind is full of confusion.

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The Betrothed

I Promessi Sposi
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Penguin Classics
1840
eBook
720
Italian
Bruce Penman
July 31, 2021 August 9, 2021
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Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don Rodrigo, who desires Lucia for himself. Forced to flee, they are then cruelly separated, and must face many dangers including plague, famine and imprisonment, and confront a variety of strange characters—the mysterious Nun of Monza, the fiery Father Cristoforo and the sinister “Unnamed”—in their struggle to be reunited. A vigorous portrayal of enduring passion, The Betrothed‘s exploration of love, power, and faith presents a whirling panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels.

“The 19th-century Italian literary classic renowned for its vivid descriptions of the 1630 pestilence that gutted Milan.” —The New York Times

“Compulsory reading for Italian high school students, The Betrothed gives a historically accurate account of the bubonic plague that wiped out a quarter of Milan’s population in 1629-1631.” —Politico

“This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.” —Giuseppe Verdi


About the book

The Betrothed is the first novel written by an Italian author and is a milestone in our literature. Everyone, or almost everyone, studied this book in high school, especially those who attended a “liceo” (I’m not going to explain the difference among all the high schools we have) or an advanced technical institute (usually in the second grade which is 10th grade for non-Italians).

With Manzoni, Italian fiction adapts to the modern reality already present in France and England for more than a century, thus guaranteeing the return of our literature in Europe after a crisis that lasted more than two centuries.

Two cultural strands converge in The Betrothed: the Lombard Enlightenment which aims to bring the intellectual closer to society and the Romanticism with its attention to national history. Without Manzoni there would have been no history of the novel in Italy.

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Le masque de Nô

Le masque de Nô
, , , ,

, Book # 1
Gallimard Jeunesse
August 27th 2020
Paperback
416
French
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June 23, 2021 July 11, 2021

The chronicles of maple and cherry tree form a tetralogy set in seventeenth-century Japan. We follow two heroes, Ichirō, a young samurai with a fabulous destiny, and the mysterious Hiinahime, a stranger who hides behind a Nō mask. In the first two volumes the narrator is Ichirō, in the other two it will be the heroine Hiinahime's turn to tell the story. The first volume, entitled The Nō Mask, traces Ichirō's life from childhood to adolescence. Abandoned, Ichirō is raised as a son by an unknown samurai who teaches him the way of the sword. The boy will live a solitary existence in the mountains, in the heart of a wild nature and at the rhythm of the seasons, between moments of bliss and lightheartedness and an apprenticeship that requires perseverance and courage. But one tragic night, Ichirō's life is turned upside down by the attack of shady samurai. Destiny will then take him to Edo (ancient Tokyo), where he will begin performing in kabuki theaters; there he will make his first friendships and meet Hiinahime, the unknown woman with the Nō mask.


About the book

First book in the series set in Edo period Japan (17th century) entitled Les chroniques de l’érable et du cerisier which, from the Italan translation (sorry don’t know any French) should be The Chronicles of Maple and Cherry tree, a very intriguing title. We are in the period in which the Tokugawa family holds the maximum political and military power in Japan, a period of isolation and persecution of Christians.

The book begins with a Master, a former samurai, who finds a child in a biwa shell in the forest near his isolated mountain home. He takes him home and together with the housekeeper he raises him as if he were his son. The latter, Ichirō, is raised with samurai teachings, of which the Master is an expert, until the Master’s past comes knocking on the door of the isolated house and Ichirō is catapulted into ancient Edo (current Tokyo) where, to survive, he has to beg and live on the streets, until he meets a poet who will help him find work. He also discovers the Kabuki theater and thanks to this, he makes his first friends. In Edo he also meets Hiinahime, a girl who hides behind a mask of the Nō theater.

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The Waiting Years

女坂
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Kodansha
1957
Paperback
203
Japanese
John Bester
April 14, 2021 April 19, 2021

The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo's real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another ... and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son.... And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.

In a series of colorful, unforgettable scenes, Enchi brilliantly handles the human interplay within the ill-fated Shirakawa family. Japan's leading woman novelist and a member of the prestigious Art Academy, she combines a graceful, evocative style that consciously echoes the Tale of Genji with keen insight and an impressive ability to develop her characters over a long period of time. Her work is rooted deep in the female psychology, and it is her women above all-so clearly differentiated yet all so utterly feminine-who live in the memory. With The Waiting Years, a new and important literary figure makes her debut in the Western world.


About the book

End of Edo Period, a state official asks his wife to find a new concubine among the young ladies who are offered by the most respectable families in Tokyo. Tomo knows that she must obey to her husband but her heart breaks nonetheless.

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