Thursday, January 26, 2006

Book Club

Shellie has invited me to participate in our ward Book Club, which I have been glad to do. This month the book was "Memoirs of a Geisha" which Shellie enjoyed a lot.

I didn't really like it, of course I did skip the translators note in the beginning which Shellie said was crucial reading.

I didn't like the fact that a man wrote the book but wrote it in first person of a geisha, or that he gave the heroin such flowery phrases that no one else used- or how rude he made Nado- completely un-Japanese. and I just felt weird at the end of reading it. Plus the guy she is in love with is married and that's Ok!

I was the only one who didn't like it.

Oh, well.


Josh said...

what makes you think that rudeness is "un-japanese?" bowing isn't all about politeness. the japanese may have some very formal elements to their culture and etiquette, but that didn't stop them from invading china and korea, raping tens of thousands of women, and torturing all the others. also, they bombed pearl harbor with no notice. seems rude to me. and i'm not attacking japanese culture, because they've obviously changed dramatically in the past 60 years, but memoirs of a geisha is a 60 year-old story. korean culture is equally formal.. and it caught me off-guard when i realized that a lot of it was just a disengenuous show.

Terra said...

that's the point Josh- the culture is about show and this character didn't follow any of the social guidlines. Not to mention that social graces and military decisions are not quite the same thing. The Japanese had a "we are the best" mentality that showed particularly strong through their military. Have you read the book?

Mrs. K said...

I enjoyed the book because it swept me away into another culture that I am not that familiar with. Nobu was gruff, and well known for being gruff, and scoffed at and ostracized for it. And sure, it may not have been textbook Japanese culture complete and correct in every aspect, but it was a novel, and was more about the journey of Sayuri- not Japan.

In the translator’s note he says that using memoirs to learn about history is like asking a rabbit running through the field to teach you about the field itself. The rabbit is only privy to the information about the field from it’s perspective, only sees a small portion, and at it’s quickened pace, is only affected by the parts of the field that deeply impact it’s journey.

In much the same way, we learn about ‘Sayuri’s’ field, Japan, from a limited perspective. The character’s in the book are described through Sayuri’s eyes to give us the inside view—the impolite things that a properly formal geisha would never speak out loud. I loved hearing the story from her perspective. And, I though Arthur Golden did a great job with it, especially with it being his first novel.

Josh said...

i think we're missing each other somewhere. you said "i didn't like the fact... how rude he made Nado - completely un-Japanese." the implication seems to be that rudeness is a decidedly un-Japanese trait. My point is that the japanese CAN in fact be quite rude. we often mistake the flowery phrases and manners of the japanese for politeness. it would be like a foreign observer watching you wave at someone and immediately thinking that you were being overly formal and gracious. but you were just waving. that's just what people do. it doesn't speak to rudeness or politeness. no, i haven't read it. but i think that each negative point you mentioned stems from comparing japanese culture with your own. no, it would not be ok in our culture to fall in love with a married man. but, there is was accepted. i'm not defending the culture, only acknowledging the differences.