'Snow Country' - Yasunari Kawabata

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1968

Reading this really made me regret that I can’t read Japanese (or speak it for that matter). Although Edward G. Seidensticker is well regarded as a translator, I got the feeling that it would be more beautiful, more lyrical in the original. Kawabata’s style is often compared to haiku poetry and you get definite glimpses of that here but I couldn’t help wondering constantly what it read like in Japanese. So throughout the story I could never quite forget that I was reading a translation. That said, I enjoyed the book and many of the images from it still linger in my mind. It’s a story of beauty and sadness that should be savoured, not rushed.
But, drawn to her at that moment, he felt a quiet like the voice of the rain flow over him.
When he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the Nobel committee apparently cited 3 of his novels including Snow Country. I look forward to reading the other two (Thousand Cranes and The Old Capital) at some point. (3.5/5)

Cross-posted on my blog.


    On December 24, 2007 at 12:30 AM Anonymous said...

    I read Snow Country a couple of years ago and had the same sense of missing much of the meaning because of the translation. There are many references, familiar to Japanese readers, taken from the haiku of Matsuo Basho which, in turn, rely on cultural symbols foreign to Westerners. Just the few that I was able to work out really extended my appreciation of Kawabata's work.