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September 23, 2005



Ishiguro is certainly a delight: Currently giving "Never Let Me Go" a working over.

[...and the sensibility which pervades the whole book which seems to me at least to be quintessentially Japanese, and best conveyed through the phrase "mono no aware" (物の哀れ)...]

I alluded to something along these lines in a previous comment: This sensibility *does* seem to be quintessentially Japanese: Transience, Impermanence, Grayness - they all convey the idea of infixity. I am not sure what the sources of this sensibilityu are: Geography, perhaps? WW2 in a modern sense? Buddhism? The ravages of the Bakumatsu? (unlikely). In any case, I find this notion to be ubiquitous in Japanese works - speaking from a strictly consumerist point of view, I think it has been over-harvested, but it still sells. There is another notion, "Utsusemi" that provides the same kind of feeling: I am not really comfortable with either concept as a thematic device or as an outlook on life.

P.S: Havent you found that there is yet another theme that permeates Japanese works? That of *longing*. The characters are always longing for something, usually, an over-idealized objective. When I first read Genji Monogatari, I slapped myself on the head and exclaimed - "By Gosh, Murasaki Shikibu *is* in love with her character, Genji". The work was permeated with so much longing and pathos and reflections upon beauty and the ideal that no explanation could have sufficed which failed to realize that the Genji's lady friends were mere proxies for Murasaki Shikibu and *their* longings, as recorded, as well as his, were *her* desires for something unattainable.
Again, I have found this thematic device to be Ubiquitous in Japanese works: Most notoriously in Manga - which probably explains the existence of the bishojo and bishonen subgenres, marketed, incidentally, to the most unlikely (in my mind) of audiences.

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