Malíř pomíjivého světa

3304 stars
Kazuo Ishiguro

Malíř pomíjivého světa by Kazuo Ishiguro PDF, TXT, ePub, PDB, RTF, FB2.

Title Malíř pomíjivého světa
Rating 3304 stars
Author Kazuo Ishiguro
Pages 170
Isbn 8072032348
Review If you've already read The Remains of the Day, chances are your enjoyment of An Artist of the Floating World will be greatly curtailed. And that is the sheer tragedy of this book.

Replace Stevens with Masuji Ono. Replace a tottering England with a war-ravaged, financially unstable Japan and insert Ishiguro's penchant for allegory. And TADA you have An Artist of the Floating World.

This book had potential to be a very emotionally charged commentary on a nation rebuilding itself from its charred (atomic-bombed) remains and reflecting on the flawed ideologies of its notorious past.
But instead it felt like a curious combination of The Remains of the Day and A Pale View Of Hills with little improvisation thrown in.

If in TRotD, Stevens laments living a life devoted to serving a Nazi-sympathizing, Jew-hating Lord with unquestioning loyalty, in AAotFW, Ono san experiences feelings of profound guilt for having created paintings supporting the war and Imperial jingoism. We see Ono repeatedly trying to convince himself that his ideals were not at fault and he only did what his feelings of patriotism (obviously misguided) inspired him to, at the time.
But at the fag end of the narrative, Ono comes to terms with his 'mistakes' and even ends up offering an unsolicited apology to his daughter's father-in-law at her miai ('marriage interview session' in Japanese).

Translation:- Ishiguro virtually makes Japan get down on its knees and apologize to the world for all its crimes against humanity. The evanescent night life of the pleasure district that Ono san uses as a theme for his paintings is actually a symbol of a 'floating', hesitant Japan about to turn over a new leaf.

I cannot exactly put my finger on the things I did not find particularly appealing about this book. Maybe it's the matter-of-fact tone of Ono's narrative voice which will tend to annoy the reader at some point. Maybe it's the lack of a shadow of grief or an air of melancholy that pervaded the atmosphere of TRotD and A Pale View of Hills. Maybe it's the glaring similarities with TRotD. Or maybe it's the Booker-nominated writer Tan Twan Eng saying in an interview how he reads this book at least once every year which caused me to have really high expectations.
I had assumed, a book ought to have created an exceptionally powerful impact for it to be Eng's all-time-favorite.

But I guess as a Malaysian national, he must have strong sentiments associated with any book that so much as touches upon the topic of Japan's shameful past as colonial master of most of east/south-east Asia.

So my advice for the uninitiated will be:- Read Ishiguro's works in order or at least read this one before reading The Remains of the Day.

Description

Second reading. The gist of this novel is the narrator's culpability for his patriotic actions during the war with the U.S. Set in a suburb of Tokyo during the American occupation, the narrator, Masuji Ono, is now surrounded by those who blame him and those like him for Japan's disastrous gamble on war. Ono's generation was that of the old men cheerleading for war. And there can be no question about his complicity. In his youth he trained as an artist of the demimonde or floating world, but turned to graphic propaganda during the war. His work was responsible for motivating untold numbers of young Japanese men to throw their lives away. Here's the rub though: Ono in the end was nothing more than a patriot. I agree that nationalism is abhorrent and that he was on the wrong side. But really it was Ono's misfortune, as it was Japan's, to be so catastrophically led. It strikes me as absurd that those around him berate and belittle him. There is even the suggestion by his eldest daughter that he do the honorable thing and commit seppuku, (literally, stomach cutting), as a means of cleansing the family name and clearing the way for the younger daughter's marriage negotiations. Reading the book I was reminded of how U.S. soldiers were treated when they returned from Vietnam. Ono was a combatant, no question. But it's really those around him him who've changed since the defeat, not Ono himself.


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