THE MICHIGAN DAILY S
Sundoy, March 34, 1975 'I
BEAUTY AND SADNESS
Kawabata 's blend of Eastern
and Western literary motifs
THE POLITICAL NOVEL:
Broken dreams in
BEAUTY AND SADNESS by
Yusunari Kawabata: Alfred
A. Knopf; New York, 206
By BILL LOOMIS
VUSUNARI KAWABATA w a s
not a prolific writer but it
is no exaggeration to claim that
what exists of his literature is
precious. He wrote four excep-
tional novels, received the Nobel
Prize for Literature in 1968 and
took his own life in August of
1972. He began his novel Beauty
and Sadness in 1961 and work-
ed on it continuously until his
In his youth, Kawabata want-
ed to be a painter - as aspira-
tion reflected in all of his nov-
el,, but most especially in this
masterpiece. Colors give Beauty
and Sadness the stillness of a
quiet pool. These colors and
landscapes have a soft, soothing
quality. Kawabata describes the
main character's house:
"He lived in the hilly northern
outskirts of Kamakina, and his
house was across the valley.
The glow spread high in the
western sky. The richness of the I
purple made him wondar if
there might be a thin bank of1
clouds. A purple sunset w a s
most unusual. There were subtle
gradations of color from dark
to light, as if blended by trailing
a wide brush across wet rice
paper. The softness of the pur-
ple emptied the coming of
spring. At one place the haze
was pink. That seemed to be
where the sun was setting."
However, beneath the pastel
calm, characters nurse desires
and emotions that seem espe-
ially caustic and painful. They
burn horribly in this quietude.
THE NOVEL'S main character
is Oki Toshio, a middle-
aged novelist. The plot begins
with his train ride to Kyoto to
hear the New Year's bells. But
it is a nostalgic journey too, for
he is traveling to visit a lover
with whom he had an affair
twenty-four years ago. Okoto,
the mistress, now lives as sn
artist with a young female pro-
Otoko was sixteen when she
fell in love with Oki. The af-
fair resulted in her giving birth
to a son who died immediate-
ly afterwards. She then suffer-
ed a mental collapse, resulting
in confinement to a psychiatric
hospital for several years. Now
thirty-nine years of age, sh3 is
still in love with Oki. Afrai: to
be alone with him, she sends
Keiko to greet and bid fare-
well to Oki when he visits.
TT WAS HIS affair with Otoko
that gave Oki the impetus
to write the novel which his'
critics praised as his greatest.
His wife, Fermi, has been jeal-'
ous and embittered throughout
the years by the fact that Okls'
great novel is modeled on an
affair with someone else.
The young girl Keiko lives
with Otoko as both pupil and
lover. Her passion is uncontral-'
led to the point where *t see:ns
to border on masocism. It is out
of this complex love of Otoka
that her protegee decides to
take revenge on Oki's sc'iolar-
ly son for the wrong done to
her beloved teacher.
These emotional extremes
produce a unique and original
asymmetry. Kawabata's acute
psychological insights are like
open wounds in the calm setting
of a rock garden or a home
buried in a hillside grove. Char-
acters overcome with passion
will turn toward the landscape,
the gardens or their art to help
maintain the calm necessary for
their emotional survival.
TN HIS POWERFUL will, Oki
consumes Otoko and his
love of the young mistress. He
devours, this love in a ri~ualis-
tic form of cannibalism. Kawa-
bata, in his unique manner of
seiing on seeminely unimport-
ant details to ultimately car-
ture an emotional essence, por-
travs Oko lost in the memorv
of Otoko, on the train back to
"Oki onened his sunrer ear-
lv, around four-thirty. It was an
assortment of New Year's food3,
including some small, perfectly
formed rice balls. They seemed
to express a woman's emotions.
No doubt Otoko herself had
made them for the man who
had lone ago destroyed her giri-
hood. Chewine the little bite-
s'79d rice balls, he could fel
her forgiveness in his v e r v
toneie and teeth. No, it was not
forgiveness, it was love. Sre-
lv it was a love that still lived,
deen within her. All he knew of
her veers in Kyoto was that sh,
made her way alone as a paint-
er. Perhaps there had bee i oth-
er loves, other affairs. Yet he!
knew that what she felt for him
was a young girl's desperate
A CITY ON A HILL. By
George Higgins. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 256 pages,
By DAN BORUSj
9- EORGE HIGGINS' A City on
a Hill is not a conventional
Washington political novel. This'
is not a melodramatic potboiler
where the future of the Presi-!
dency, the fate of the nation, or
the inte criti of the American
Higgins uses few adjectives and
no adverbs in building his de-
scriptions. Yet description are
there in plenty for those who
want to delve into this rich
source. Higgins builds feelings,
atmospheres, and latent emo-
tion with the hypnotic repetition
The most prominent word in
the novel is said. Just plain
said. No exclaimed, cried, yell-
ed; not said lightly said calm-
love. He himself had gone on
to other women. But he had
never loved again with such
Kawabata shows a passion
totally distorted in another
character. For Keiko, the head-
strong pupil of Otoko, her love
tears within her and the pas-
sion she feels becomes preda-
tory and destructive. It is wield-
ed on all, including Otoko and
BUT THIS is also a novel
about' art and the arst;
Otoko the painter and Oki, the
novelist. Kawabata spends a
good deal of time on Otoko's at-
tempts to portray the mamory
of Oki, of her dead mother and
of the infant son that lived only
minutes. These powerfal me-
mories never leave her and she
struggles most desperate~y with
them in her painting. For Oki,
the novel, like the love affair,
is something finished and rele-
gated to the past. It is a novel
which was written and the-i set
aside, though he remiisces
about it lovingly. The novel
brought him security, wealth
Oki says the novel boug:-it his
wife new clothes and sent his
son to the university. The so^
Taicho, is similar to his fath-
er. When visiting the shrine,
of ancient poet with the re-
venge-seeking Keiko, Taicho
says, "In time, even grave-,
stones change . .
"What are you saying?"
"There comes a time when
a tombstone loses its meaning".
VVERYTHING about this ,ov-
-_ no t-
tract. an essav
s1t5gI -y L n 1 -, , Just fo , ty
political process hangs precar- ly, or said ferociously. Just.for the New Y
iously in the balance. Nor is this plain said. This device allows! Books. Higgins
book a journalistic foray where Higgins to stand back and cre- and his politici
the in-the-know reader can: ate with the words, leaving the trait rings true
guess which fictional politico is reader to fill in the blanks. It is His black judge
which factual Washington super- a difficult task, but one worth Midwestern hac
star, the trouble for what it says New Frontiersn
Rather, unlike the body of the about American political life. ly drawn and h.
genre, this is a novel of interior Among Higgins' favorite dia- and juice in the
lives, of micro - motivations, logue devices is the quotation gossip-monger.
Idesires, power, and decadence. within the quotation, the"he A T THE CON
By constructing his novel not told men, ' . . .'," lending cre- novel, we f
on panoramic scope and in- dence once again to the notion as we found hir
triguing plot, but on tragic sit- that politicians love to talk and ning, drinking
uation, Higgins can deal with not to act. But Higgins finds Richmond on
the true relevance of the po- the malady of political life beach. Only h
litical process in American life. much deeper than the people working for the
At stake is the fate of an hon- who chose it. is currently a
est, but realistic political opera- byist for the Ma
tive in a slowly deteriorating -T IS CUSTOMARY when re- sociation of D
environment. At issue is whe- ferring to the breakdown of
ther or not courage, integrity, trust in politics to refer to the
dedication, and judgment have mass of scandals focused on the
a place in American life. Watergate break-ins. But that I)AT
HE PLOT if plot is the pro- s not the focus of Higgins'
book. Watergate is there since
per term for the scenarios the setting is 1974. But Water- Sunday,P
which are melded together, con- gate is simply a frame against Day Calendar
erns Hank Cavanaugh, right- which Higgins' picture is con- Tv Ctr.: The
hand man for Sam Barry (D- trasted. Higgins makes his! wY7J Tv, Channe
Mass.), a principled liberal who topical references to the crime wUoM: W. B.
decides 1976 is theyear he's and the hearings, but he is after Coil., Dublin, r'Th
going to call the shots at the something far deeper - the Poetry," 1:05 pm.
convention and Sen. Paul Travis e.oeryday conduct of those non- . &IM Sports:,
everdaycondct f thse on-state & Hoover, 1;
is his candidate. Barry, who criminal but highly pressured PTP: Simon's
owes his selection to his timely civil servants who must deal in Boys, Power. 3, 8
opposition to the War in the the political process for every- patsurreCom Cn
mid-Sixties, dispatches Cava- thing they need and want, atre. 8 pm.
naugh, a thirty-three year old~b Latin American
son of a Boston cop pulling him- Their travail - their troubled folklorist-quitarist
self through the heights by his inability to achieve potential - is 8 pm.
own initiative, to drum up sup- more American than the Water- Music School:
port for his choice. gate crimes. For if honest Richard Watson,
Barry's choice of Travis - a Americans are stymied in their Hall, 4:30 pm.
lackluster candidate - is a poor, desires and wants by other hon-
one, and eventually Cavanaugh est Americans and by the sys- Monday,P
realizes he has been wasting tem honest American have set wuoM: willy
his time. As we follow Cava- up for themselves, then the Chancellor, West c
naugh from political hack to old Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, and & political sitat
in novel form ers. He no longer believes Bar-
York Review of ry can make the man he wants
knows his stuff President or that Barry will
ians. The por- make it back to the House. Nor
and rings hard, does he believe in the efficacy
in Chicago, his of national government.
k, his burnt-out The man he is now working
nan are perfect- for wants to be governor. "He's
ave enough life not really a bad guy," he tells
m to satisfy the Richmond.
IN A WAY, A City on a Hill is
?CLUSION of the reminiscent of the Sixties
find Cavanaugh re-union party held in "Doones-
nm in the begin- bury" a short while ago. Mark
with his pal and Zonker repeat the idealistic
the Nantucket Kennedy inauguration lines
e is no longer a m i d s t much guffawing
Sam Barry. He and laughing. Until Mark, the
registered lob- radical and idealist, pulls up
assachusetts As- short and asks, "What's hap-
tail Auto Deal- pened to us, anyway?"
ILY OFFICIAL BULLETIN
March 30 tennis, archery, tripping & pianist;
age 20 up.
Drums Go Bang, camp Maplehurst, MI Coed: In-
1 4, noon. terview Tues. April 1 1-5; fields
Stanford. Trniity open only for specialists, check with
he Impact of Oral
"The Idea of
a Jubilee Year
Dr., Frank Rhodes
for Academic Affairs
FRIDAY, APRIL 4
Gabriel Richard Center
g," Res. Coll The-
Issues: Suni Paz,
, Aud. 3, MLB,
Hill Acid., 4 pm:
ions, at NPR, 10
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PRESI DENT IAL/
3909 Michigan Union
el - the characters, theRovl
-rfriendand confidant Jess Rich-
emotional conflicts alternatey mond If hone
portrayed with intense drama tond, drying out in Nantucket, achieve
and superb subtlety, the beauti-wife, to dinner with his ged ment, t
fail poetic and descriptive prose fe, to dinner with his girlion that
is one of a kind. For Kawabata ,-amedeth
isaboe al, riina. Hs fneboss, we soon lose sight of his modelo
Westave aatnuralsm bles assignment and become em- Hill" W
Westen nauralsm bendsbroiled in the personal turbu- -is a n
smoothly into Japanese impres- lence ofin teprnaurbuR
sionism. He combines the subtle lneo Hank Cavanaugh.OR
with a piercing psychological The crux of the matter is no ing n
mastery. longer whether Sen. Paul Tra- lems of
~vis, who we never meet ex- City on
It is the use of the Japane;e cept through other's reports, toiread
culture and landscape that will gain grassroots support to bling in
works so well. Beauty and Sad- reach the Oval Office, but whe- an anc
ness is a final statement of ther the personal interchange of and eas
Kawabata's virtuosity andscon- those in politics will damage the: speculat
trol as a craftsman, to his strik- spirit and integrity of those who win the
ing originality and resonan e carewhtapescldn
within the Japanese tradition. what happens. cluding
("ity IS NOT an easy book to does mu
read. It is virtually all dia- down of
Bill Loomis is a junior major- logue, and it is dialogue which dedicati
ing in English. must be studied carefully for But thi
eltian ideals are rootless.;
st Americans can not
satisfaction in govern-
[en John Winthrop's no-
t government will be the
of life - "A City on a
here all eyes are riveted
IMPORTANT in build-
mood is the marital prob-
every character in A:
ia Hill. To read City is
of marriagerasda crum-
nstitution, of fidelity as
ient concept,of divorce
sy sex as prevalent as
'ion on whose going to
next election. By in-j
such details, Higgins
uch to convey the break-
courage, integrity, and
is is not a philosophical
e Gigantc Sa le Continues 4
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