The Woman in the Dunes


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Check back each week for a new title I cringe whenever a character falls asleep and the story moves into slumber time. The narrative now lacks motivation, drive and worst of all consequences.

The Woman in the Dunes

Life imitates art, huh? On the other hand, I am fascinated by a certain school of modern fiction in which the whole story possesses a dreamlike quality. Anything might happen, but there will be no soothing return to reality, no awakening to dispel the demons.


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The author takes us to some hitherto unknown border- land, between the sober reality of the fully alert mind and the hallucinatory regions of our subconscious psyche. Any account of the history of dreamlike fiction needs to acknowledge the importance of Edgar Allan Poe , H.

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Lovecraft and other literary masters of the nascent horror genre. Even so, Franz Kafka stands out as the seminal figure in exploring the broader possibilities of this approach, creating in works such as The Castle and The Trial a tone and ambiance that was less easy to pin down. Yes, an element of horror was palpable, but you could also read these works as political commentaries, existential fables, or some new surreal style of writing that we have learned to call Kafkaesque.

Abe ranks among a handful of authors to win both the Yomiuri and the Akutagawa prizes—lucrative honors currently one million yen goes to the winners of each and with great prestige in Japan. Yet even well-read fans of literary fiction in the West will hardly recognize his name, let alone know his works.


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A teacher Niki Jumpei decides to spend his vacation pursuing his hobby of collecting insects. He has aspirations of discovering a new type of beetle, and thus achieving a small dose of distinction. He decided to focus on sandy terrains, and thus heads off for a different kind of beach vacation, with the catching net, jars and chemicals necessary for his quest.

The Woman In The Dunes - Kobo Abe BOOK REVIEW

As it turns out, Niki Jumpei will find himself captured and kept, a human specimen trapped in the same environment in which he had hoped to be the collector. Strangely enough, John Fowles was writing a similar novel, The Collector , at virtually the same time as Abe—in both works an entomologist gets caught up in the illegal detention of people. Abe, in contrast, crosses over into dreamtime, bringing together the most incongruous and implausible elements into a story as shifting and unstable as the dunes it describes, yet presented with a rigor and attention to symbolic valence that never collapses into sheer fantasy or mindless horror.

On his trip, the teacher travels first by train, then bus, and finally walks the final stretch to the beach. On his way, he passes a bizarre series of makeshift houses, each sinking deeper and deeper into the sand the closer he approaches the shore.

The Woman in the Dunes - Kōbō Abe - Google книги

At length, all the houses seemed to be sunk into hollows scooped in the sand. The surface of the sand stood higher than the rooftops.

The successive rows of houses sank deeper and deeper into the depressions. The local villagers offer to put him up in one of houses in the sand holes for the night, where an obliging widow will look after him.

Woman in the Dunes

With no other options, he accepts their offer, and climbs down a rope ladder to the bottom of a deep pit, where he meets the widow, who proves to be a friendly if reticent hostess, and is invited to stay in her fragile, poorly furnished home. The next day, the rope ladder is missing, and the teacher realizes that the villagers have no intention of letting him leave.

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Teshigahara and Abe. Hokusai In his first short film, Hiroshi Teshigahara explores the work of the wood-block artist Katsushika Hokusai — Ikebana The Sogetsu School of Ikebana, now a center for modern sculpture and pottery, was originally renowned for its instruction in the art of flower arranging.

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