First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
The Lake is the history of an obsession. It traces a man’s sad pursuit of an unattainable perfection, a beauty out of reach, admired from a distance, unconsummated. Homeless, a fugitive from an ambiguous crime, his is an incurable longing that drives him to shadow nameless women in the street and hide in ditches as they pass above him, beautiful and aloof. For their beauty is not of this world, but of a dream – the voice of a girl he meets in a Turkish bath is “an angel’s,” the figures of two students he follows seem to “glide over the green grass that hid their knees.” Reality is the durable ugliness that is his constant companion and is symbolized in the grotesque deformity of the hero’s feet. And it is the irreconcilable nature of these worlds that explains the strangely dehumanized, shadowy quality of the eroticism that pervades this novel.
In a sense The Lake is a formless novel, a “happening,” making it one of the most modern of all Kawabata’s works. Just as the hero’s interest might be caught by some passing stranger, so the course of the novel swerves abruptly from present to past, memory shades into hallucination, dreams break suddenly into daylight. It is an extraordinary performance of free association, made all the more astonishing for the skill with which these fragments are resolved within the completed tapestry.
And thus, another work week has come to an end. I hope you had a great week, or at least, you are having a great end to the week. In another week’s time, July will come to an end and we’re going to enter the eight month of the year, the dreaded “ghost” month. But whatever August has in store, I hope that it will be in everyone’s favor. Let us remain optimistic despite the trying times. On another note, I hope you are all doing well and are staying healthy albeit the invisible threat that is surround us. I am fervently praying that this predicament will end soon so that we can go resume our normal lives (although I surmise that will still take some time).
Before I can finally transition to the weekend, let me finish the work week with another First Impression Friday update. I am still trying to regain the momentum I have lost; I still have a lot of ground to cover. Nevertheless, I am currently reading my sixth book for my Japanese Literature month. My reading journey has led me to Yasunari Kawabata’s The Lake,. It is my fifth novel from the popular Nobel Prize in Literature winner. Awarded in 1968, Kawabata was Japan’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature.
It has been nearly four years since I read my last Kawabata. This is the chief reason why I decided to read The Lake even though I just bought it early this year; I am guilty, I have several books gathering dust in my bookshelf. I just started reading The Lake earlier today but I already gained enough ground to at least have an iota on the story. The narrative zeroes in on Gimpei Momoi. He used to be a teacher in a high school but an act of obsession involving one of his students led to his dismissal from the school. It does seem that obsession is going to be a word seminal to Gimpei’s story. In the first chapter alone, several instances of Gimpei’s obsession were provided by Kawabata.
From the chapter I have covered so far, I have surmised how Kawabata is never daunted to take on discomfiting subjects such as the subjects he covered in Thousand Cranes, The House of Sleeping Beauties and, now, The Lake. Most of his works, at least those that I have read, contained undercurrents of sexual tension. However, it doesn’t always necessitate physical action or any forms of intimacy. On another note, it is, I have noted, Kawabata’s way of underlining facets of his culture. Other authors of lesser caliber would buckle down on the mere idea of tackling such subjects.
If there is one thing that I am most curious about, at this point in time, it would be the titular lake. There was no mention of the lake in the pages I have covered so far. What and where is this lake and how does it relate to the story of Gimpei? The book’s synopsis also further piqued my curiosity. It pointed out that The Lake is a formless novel; I am certainly not new to this idea. If such is true, then The Lake would be a step away from Kawabata’s other works I have read so far. I am really curious how Kawabata stirs the story.
The novel is a slender read and it is my goal to finish it over the weekend. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!