The Sound of the Mountain

The Sound of the Mountain, by Yasunari Kawabata

Kawabata first became famous in the West for his short stories and two short novels.  He won the 1968 Nobel Prize for literature.  This novel was published in 1949, but not in English until after the Nobel Prize.  My book blurb lauds it as "one of his most important works--both longer and more complex" than his other novels.  The Sound of the Mountain describes the inner life of an elderly businessman named Shingo, who observes his dysfunctional family and his own old age.  His childrens' marriages are foundering, he is more fond of his daughter-in-law than of his own daughter, he is distant from his wife, and his most intense feelings seem to be reserved for flowers and art.

I honestly did not care about this book, or the people in it, or anything much.  I planned to like it.  I expected to like it.  At the beginning I was rather tickled to see that Shingo lives in Kamakura, where my mom lived for several years just after this story was published in Japan.  But I was underwhelmed, which made it difficult to want to read.  Brona took up this dare at the same time, and she also didn't really care for it, so at least I'm not the only one and I don't have to worry that I'm a total philistine.
They made a movie!  1954.

This was the first Classics Club Dare book, and reading it gives me the right to give you a literary dare.  Should you choose to accept it, I challenge you to read Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh.  I have never read it myself, nor any other Waugh, but I would like to read it this year.


  1. Brideshead Revisited is a great choice! Certainly much more accessible than The Sound of the Mountain is, according to Brona and you

  2. My copy just arrived this week, so I'll be diving in soon. I'm curious to see how I feel about it!

    I'll probably take on your dare as well!

  3. After reading both your and Brona's review, I am not sure I am going to read this book. But I want to take you up on your dare. Like you, I would like to read Brideshead Revisited this year.

  4. I love your brief synopsis - it covers all the bases!

    I'd be curious to read a review from a blogger I know, who enjoyed or loved this book to try and see it from another angle...but that's as far as my current interest in Kawabata goes.

    Brideshead is one of my favourites :-)
    I first saw the fabulous, fabulous BBC series in the 1980's (hunt it out if you can) starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews.
    It fleshes out the book beautifully.

  5. I would also like to hear from someone who liked it! I really want to know why so many people think this is a masterpiece. I am missing something.

    I've seen pictures of the BBC series. Wonder if it's on Netflix...


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