Lake Of Heaven

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Lake of Heaven is the story of a traditional mountain village in Japan that is destroyed in the process of constructing a dam. It tells of the lives of the displaced villagers as they struggle to retain their traditional culture—including their stories, dances, music, mythology, and dreams—in the face of displacement, environmental destruction, and rapid modernization. Although fictional, the work is rooted in the events of actual villages in the mountains of Kyushu and Ishimure's imaginative reconstructions of their people's tales. Lake of Heaven considerably stretches the familiar Western conceptions of the novel form. Its interweaving of local stories, dreams, and myths lends it a deep sense of the Noh Drama. Gary Snyder writes that Lake of Heaven is "a remarkable text of mythopoetic quality—with a Noh flavor—that presents much of the ancient lore of Japan and the lore of the spirit world." The story becomes a parable for the larger world, "in which all of our old cultures and all of our old villages are becoming buried, sunken, and lost under the rising waters of the dams of industrialization and globalization."

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Editorial Reviews

Gary Snyder
A remarkable text of mythopoetic quality—with a noh flavor—that presents much of the ancient lore of Japan and the lore of the spirit world—and is in a way a kind of myth-drama, not a novel.
May 2009 CHOICE
Ishimure's storytelling is spellbinding. . . .A profoundly mythic story offering 'the real meaning of existence' to a broken world, this novel unfolds as a contemporary masterwork. Highly recommended.
Spring/Summer 2010 Transformations
With the advent of these translations of Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow and , one of the great literary figures of contemporary Japan, who is also one of the heroes of local resistance to corporate pollution becomes available to Anglophone readers….Students come away with another history of industrial development and environmental damage that parallels and diverges from that of other First World countries. At the same time, the great emotional power of Ishimure's writing gives them a sense of connection to individuals and cultures that might otherwise alienate them. Through her combination of research, protest, and empathy, Ishimure provides a fine model of the writer as activist and the artist as defender.
Gavan McCormack
Not for nothing is Ishimure Michiko seen in Japan as a prophet. In Lake of Heaven, she speaks to the contemporary maelstrom from the country's neglected and sacrificed up-country. The world she creates in the surrounds of a flooded Kyushu village is one where the community of ancestors, residents, and spirits is celebrated and harmony restored between human, natural, and supernatural orders. Readers are left to ponder what lessons today's alienated and anguished humanity may learn from the primeval Japanese experience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739124628
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Series: AsiaWorld Series
  • Pages: 358
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Allen is an associate professor in the Department of Foreign Languages, School of Medicine, Juntendo University, Japan.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Translator's Introduction Chapter 2 Acknowledgments Chapter 3 1. Birds Leaving Chapter 4 2. Oki No Miya Chapter 5 3. Moonshadow Bridge Chapter 6 4. Water Mirror Chapter 7 5. Secret Song Chapter 8 6. Delicate Flowers

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