Friday, June 11, 2010

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter by Yasunari Kawabata - Book Review #34

Friday, June 11, 2010
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
by Yasunari Kawabata

An Oriental classic of the early Heian-period retold by a Nobel Prize winner about a supernatural being found by a bamboo cutter and brought up as his daughter. He urges his "daughter" to marry but she sets fantastic quests to her suitors. All fail. Eventually she reveals she is from the Palace of the Moon and departs.


The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is a cruel and sad, but also, at the same time, it is deeply romantic and poetic classical Japanese fairy tale. Like most of Japanese works it is full of colorful and versatile symbolism that makes you think and rethink every line of the tale.

The characters and the story itself are not as important as the language with what it has been written, the writing style. Even in translation it reads like a melodramatic song, like a purl of the river, like a birds singing, like a rustling of the leaves.

The thing that made me wonder – why there are so many tales from different parts of the world that involve a young and beautiful girl who asks a young men to prove how much they love her by sending them “go there, I don’t know where and bring me that, I don’t know what”. Why this is a prove of love? Or maybe it is as my husband suggested – the girl just trying to get rid of the men? If so, why these tales promote such a cruelty?

Nevertheless, it is a lyrical, well structured tale and I only wish that I could be able to read it, not in translation, but in original language to fully understand and see the whole beauty and symbolism of this story.


Post a Comment