An artist of the Floating world

An artist of the Floating world – by Kazuo Ishiguro

Its Oct 1948, Japan is resurrecting after the shattering and mournful World War II. People are learning new things which they at times call western things and also are trying to unlearn few old things also. At one side young men are brimming with confidence, as they know they will be laying the bricks for the future and on the other side there are few unsettling and concerning issues that the WWII has left behind.
One such issue is getting all 25+ young people married as soon as possible as WW has quite understandable postponed that auspicious event from their lives. Masuji Ono is one father who’s concerned about getting his daughter Noriko married. Little he knows as he will try to find a suitable match for her, after an unsuccessful attempt last year, his concerns, apprehensions and old random memories will bring out a gloomy and dark yet enlightening story of redemption and understanding.

The novel begins as if subtlety was being over done, something a grandfather will do while telling his 6-8 year old grandson some old fable. This overdone subtlety then slowly blends as a personal characteristic of Masuji Ono through whose eyes the story is being presented.

One of the high point of the story is the student teacher relationship being shown and analyzed throughout the story.
Once Masuji says,

One supposes all groups of pupil tend to have a leading figure, someone whose abilities the teacher singles out as an example for the other’s to follow. And it is this pupil by virtue of his having strongest grasp of his teachers ideas will tend function as main interpreter of those ideas to the less experienced or the less gifted pupils. But by the same token, it is this same leading pupil who is most likely to see shortcoming’s in the teachers work, or else develop views of his own divergent from those of the teacher. In theory, of course, a good teacher should accept this tendency- indeed; welcome it as a sign that he has brought his pupil to a point of maturity. In practice, however, the emotions involved can be qute complicated. Some times when someone has nurtured a pupil long and hard, it is difficult to see any such maturing of talent other than treachery and some regrettable situations are apt to arise

In light are his own relationship with his teacher Mori san and then with one of his most gifted pupil Kuroda.

In the story is about the things that started changing before war when people and more specifically Masuji started understanding the situation of Japan. How they moved forward towards the war. Then as the war ended how the tone and the attitude of the younger generation changes and what turmoil was left for older people who were instrumental in bringing up the war.The story is about Masuji realizing and coming in terms with the present and the past. At times also realizing some of his mistakes.

The story as the name suggests is indeed one about an artist of the floating world where one contemplates the world of beauty, pain and pleasure. The world that world which disappears with the morning light. After leaving this world for more tangible and meaningful realities, the sun in the end did dawned on Masuji. And more understandably was lost with the morning light as the country stepped forward after the dark WWII.

Kazuo Ishingro is a good writer though his way of writing looks too simple and monotonous in the beginning but then one is slowly drawn into his floating world of elegance, simplicity and subtlity. An artist of the Floating world is indeed a worth read.

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8 comments

  1. Rakesh
    beautifully written a review.Being not so judgemental,you slowly drew us into the story through a crisp n quick backdrop and the unseen,yet felt conflict weave…loved the excerpt of Masuji, it’s simply brilliant..the classic tale between old & time-tested ideologies and new & less-trodden philosophies that seemed to have emerged from the evolving world around….nice a beginning for my weekend!

    Jyo

  2. n I will wait for your review on Sartre. I saw “Slow man” in the book stores. How is it?
    these days, am spending a bit of time with Pablo Neruda.
    over the fence, I stretch and wait for the breeze to rustle with a new message…

    take care

    Jyo

  3. @Jyothsnay: ah, Pablo Neruda….haven’t read him, well as a matter of fact i haven’t much read poetry at all, though have started reading nowadays…reading some by Harold Pinter..
    and yeah, i have completed Slow man. Bit pressed for time these days, will write abt it in some time..

  4. Hi, thanks for visting my blog.

    Ishiguro is one of my favourite contemporary authors. Have you read The Remains of the Day? It’s a masterpiece, a modern classic. I wasn’t too keen on this book, it was one of his early ones and he was still trying to find his ground. It works but overall the book is too “thin”.

    I love his when we were orphans too, which is written in a style of detective novel and his latest never let me go, which is a dystopian science fiction. In both cases if you look for genre flourishes you will be disappointed but they are very well written. The way he evokes the past with its feelings of inevitable loss and regret is masterly.

    Alok.

  5. ..The way he evokes the past with its feelings of inevitable loss and regret is masterly….

    Yeah, thats a masterly trait of his writing. His artistly weaving a story out of past memories is splendid.
    Have started The Remains of the Day, though am yet to finish it. It’s been good till now. will write abt it soon…

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