The Sound of the Mountain

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Overview

By day Ogata Shingo is troubled by small failures of memory. At night he hears a distant rumble from the nearby mountain, a sound he associates with death. In between are the relationships that were once the foundation of Shingo's life: with his disappointing wife, his philandering son, and his daughter-in-law Kikuko, who instills in him both pity and uneasy stirrings of sexual desire. Out of this translucent web of attachments - and the tiny shifts of loyalty and affection that threaten to sever it irreparably -...
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The Sound of the Mountain

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Overview

By day Ogata Shingo is troubled by small failures of memory. At night he hears a distant rumble from the nearby mountain, a sound he associates with death. In between are the relationships that were once the foundation of Shingo's life: with his disappointing wife, his philandering son, and his daughter-in-law Kikuko, who instills in him both pity and uneasy stirrings of sexual desire. Out of this translucent web of attachments - and the tiny shifts of loyalty and affection that threaten to sever it irreparably - Kawabata creates a novel that is at once serenely observed and enormously affecting.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Kawabata is a poet of the gentlest shades, of the evanescent, the imperceptible.”
Commonweal
 
“A rich, complicated novel. . . . Of all modern Japanese fiction, Kawabata’s is the closest to poetry.”
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399505270
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/1981
  • Series: The Perigee Japanese Library
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Yasunari Kawabata was born in Osaka in 1899. In 1968 he became the first Japanese writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. One of Japan’s most distinguished novelists, he published his first stories while he was still in high school, graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1924. His short story “The Izu Dancer,” first published in 1925, appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1955. Kawabata authored numerous novels, including Snow Country (1956), which cemented his reputation as one of the preeminent voices of his time, as well as Thousand Cranes (1959), The Sound of the Mountain (1970), The Master of Go (1972), and Beauty and Sadness (1975). He served as the chairman of the P.E.N. Club of Japan for several years and in 1959 he was awarded the Goethe-medal in Frankfurt. Kawabata died in 1972.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2007

    Sound of the Mountain

    In the story, The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata, Shingo tries to understand his family¿s problems and his increased awareness of his old age. This story is of a family who suffers just like any other family. They deal with affair, divorce, and death. The story revolves around Shingo. He helps the family get through the issues, which face them. I would recommend this book to others. The story is fiction but easily relatable to. I found the book to be engaging and appealing. The characters draw one in with their blunt reality. Shingo shows that even when age becomes a large number, one is still capable of so much. He displays this through his decisions he makes in the story. Although there were parts I was unclear about I found the book to be captivating. In close, this book is worth reading, if one desires to learn about a family living in Japan, who face everyday struggles.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    The Sound of the Mountain, by Yasunari Kawabata, touches on a surprising amount of modern-day issues. It is a rather lengthy novel, almost three hundred pages that can perhaps be described as a near-tragic drama. The author seems to be directing the book at a middle-age to older audience, especially parents that have experienced the trials and tribulations of watching their children grow. The story centers on a man by the name of Ogata Shingo, aged sixty-two, and his obsession with his failures as a husband and father, and the reality of his own mortality. The book is largely written in haikus or Japanese poems which helps bring the novel into a better place when the story seemingly becomes too dark along the way. Shingo is struggling from the onset of the book until the last page with memory lapses, and suffers from nightmares where he interacts with dead friends and associates from his past. He is unhappy with his wife, and is struggling to maintain a decent relationship with his daughter, who has recently moved back home with her two young daughters after leaving her husband. At the same time, he is haunted by the knowledge that his son, who after returning from war a changed man, is having extramarital affairs, and because of this, and his poor relationship with his own daughter and wife, turns his attention to his daughter-in-law, whom he both pities and somewhat sexually desires. But the novel isn¿t solely about the problems of Shingo¿s family. It creatively combines a mixture of family drama with heavy metaphorical comparison between Shingo¿s personal problems and nature. Shingo hears sounds and notices minute details from plants, trees, and of course the mountain the book is titled after, that he believes gives clues or signs about what lies in his future. Because no one else hears or sees these signs, Shingo is left to ponder their meanings on his own, which cause him great personal turmoil. Along with this turmoil, the novel centers on Shingo¿s guilty feelings that stem from his belief that he was not an involved enough husband and father, and has thus been a huge factor in the problems his own children are experiencing. The book moves along nicely for its length, but its heavy use of haikus and metaphors may cause the reader to backtrack more than once to search for hidden meanings. It is the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and its author was the first Japanese writer to have ever received the award. I found my opinion of the novel to be somewhat complex. After reading the jacket of the book it seemed to be a very straightforward, interesting novel, compared to other Japanese writings I have read. However, once the book really got going I found it hard to follow at times, and a bit on the depressing side. Perhaps the best way to describe it is imagine watching a film about a senior citizen having a later-than-usual mid-life crisis while possibly struggling with symptoms of Alzheimer¿s disease. Throw in the man¿s children, one who is a cheater and a poor excuse for a husband, a daughter-in-law who is too submissive and sweet to have to tolerate this husband, and a daughter whose own marriage has ended and is living at home arguing with her parents like a spoiled teenager, and you have a good idea about how dark this novel can become at times. What I did find impressive about the novel was the creative metaphorical uses between nature and life and death. It seemed there was just the right amount of these metaphors to bring the book back up to a tolerable positive level whenever I felt it had become too serious to enjoy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2007

    Sound of the Mountain

    In the story, The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata, Shingo tries to understand his family¿s problems and his increased awareness of his old age. This story is of a family who suffers just like any other family. They deal with affair, divorce, and death. The story revolves around Shingo. He helps the family get through the issues, which face them. I would recommend this book to others. The story is fiction but easily relatable to. I found the book to be engaging and appealing to me. The characters draw one in with their blunt reality. Shingo shows that even when age becomes a large number, one is still capable of so much. He displays this through his decisions he makes in the story. Although there were parts I was unclear about I found the book to be captivating. Although, I expected more of the ending. This book is worth reading, if one desires to learn about a family living in Japan, who face everyday struggles.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2007

    The Sound of The Mountain

    This book is wonderful. The book is fast moving and centers on the life of a family in Japan after the war. Shingo is the main character and he is also the main provider for his family. The book gives great detail into some very fine areas of life. It reminds me very much of life today. I loved this book and will reread it again. I was however, let down by the ending. I feel there should be a part two.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2002

    Gripping Subtlety

    This novel concerns an aging Japanese man (Shingo) and his relationships with his family members. His struggles to find solutions to family problems are highlighted by the differences in pre-war and post-war Japanese society. These differences include family moral obligations, legal definitions of family, shortage of men eligible for marriage, and the war's emotional effect on his son. The author is a master of his craft, who can take some observations about nature and the weather, mix them with thoughts and half-remembered dreams, and produce a gripping novel. I often found myself putting the book down for a few minutes or an hour just because I wanted to prolong the experience of reading it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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