Readalong Two: ‘The Sound of the Mountain’ by Yasunari Kawabata

After trying a modern novel for our first group read, it’s time to move on to something  a little more classic for the second one, and Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata is most certainly one of the big names in modern Japanese literature, with his seat in our own pantheon secure 🙂  The Sound of the Mountain is my favourite Kawabata work – I hope you all liked it too…

I looked online to see what I could point you towards, but there isn’t much freely available (at least not from legal sources…).  I did find a few interesting bits and pieces, though…

‘The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket’ (tr. unknown)

‘The Pomegranate’ (tr. Edward Seidensticker)

‘Japan, the Beautiful and Myself’ (tr. Edward Seidensticker)
 – Kawabata’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech

I trust you all enjoyed the book – here are a few questions I thought might interest you:

1) Is Shingo’s lack of interference in his children’s lives justified or lazy?
2) Why do you think Fusako is so angry with her father?
3) Is there a special connection between Shingo and Kikuko, or is it all in his mind?
4) Do you think Shingo and Yasuko have a good marriage?  Why (not)?
5) Why has Kawabata placed such an emphasis on Shingo’s dreams?

Feel free to leave comments below, or on any of the reviews of the book – and speaking of reviews…  Please use the linky below to post links to your review of the novel!  As we know what the book is, just put your blog name in the first space and the link in the second.  Let’s see how you found this one 😉


About Tony

Championing the wonders of fiction in translation... ...but quietly (the kids are asleep...).
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8 Responses to Readalong Two: ‘The Sound of the Mountain’ by Yasunari Kawabata

  1. kamo says:

    Looks like it's just you and me then buddy, and I'm afraid I ignored almost all your questions…


  2. Ally says:

    I am about to finish The Lake and I have a lot of mixed feelings about it 🙂


  3. Just finished this book and still reflecting on it. It's a great novel, very atmospheric and beautiful. How much do you think Kawabata was reflecting pre-war / post war attitudes?


  4. Tony Malone says:

    kamo – The other reviews are starting to come in – slowly… 😉


  5. Tony Malone says:

    Ally – That's one I haven't got to yet 🙂 I do wonder if Kawabata is a writer who might not appeal to women as much as men – there's a lot of gender inequality in his books…


  6. Tony Malone says:

    Belinda – That's an interesting question. To be honest, though, Shingo didn't really strike me as an old-fashioned kind of man… It's probably more true in terms of how Shuichi and Aihara behave – perhaps the war has taught them to do whatever they want, whenever they want…


  7. I got the impression Shingo felt lost, not able to respond in his 'traditional' way to this new world he didn't understand. There were a couple of things that gave me the impression that Shingo was out of his depth and uncertain of his cultural identity, one of which being his reference to being uncertain how to pronounce something the 'Tokyo' way (not being from the city), and the other his conversation with Suichi about his 'bastards'. Also, I have seen this cultural dissonance played out quite heavily in other Japanese novels of the era like Kokoro, and also Kurosawa movies like The Dead Sleep Well, where the behaviour of a younger man is contrasted against an older man. Maybe I'm reaching, but this felt a bit like that.


  8. Tony Malone says:

    Belinda – I'm not sure how much of it the times changing and how much was simply Shingo's character. He's a very passive, fatalistic character, and I felt that he almost beleived that things should simply take their course. The few times he did intervene, it was very half-hearted, as if he really didn't want to get involved – of course, he really should have as he is the one who set up the marriages and condemned the younger generation to their unhappiness…


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