JAPANESE LITERATURE CHALLENGE 16
Thanks to DolceBelleza (@bellezzamjs) who has been organizing this challenge for many years! This is my 8th participation.
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The Challenge runs January-February 2023.
I was planning to read 6 books, but January is starting crazy busy this year, so not sure how well I’ll do with this. But anyway, as usual, I’m planning on reading more Japanese lit all year around.
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Here is my TBR (in chronological order) for this event – my recap, with links to my reviews when they become live.
This year, I have MOSTLY chosen classics, so they also count for my Classics Club’s 4th list.
- Shuna’s Journey (1983), by Hayao Miyazaki
- I am a Cat (1905), by Natsume Soseki
- Hell Screen (1918), by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa – review here below
- Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny (1939), by Okamoto Kidō – currently reading
- The Honjin Murders (1946), by Seishi Yokomizo
- The Hunting Gun (1949), by Yasushi Inoue
- The Sound of the Mountain (1953), by Yasunari Kawabata
I just read Hell Screen, so I’m actually posting my review here:
I had already read In a Grove and Rashoumon by Akutagawa, but the two stories presented here are very different in style.
I think it was a great editor choice to actually put together in the same book these two short stories: Hell Screen and The Spider’s Thread.
They both deal with terrifying characters and hell, within the genre of old tales, legends, fantasy, and horror.
In Hell Screen, among stories related to the great Lord Horikawa, the author focuses on one in which we meet the very gifted artist Yoshihide. The problem is, to paint truthfully he needs live models, so for instance he doesn’t hesitate torturing servants to be able to paint people in pain. Then one day, Horikawa commissions him to paint a folding screen portraying scenes from the eight Buddhist hells. And the painter asks for a live scene of hell to be able to finish his painting in truth…
This was a rather terrifying story, with an expected outcome – it was easy to guess who was going to be burning in a carriage falling from the sky.
I actually didn’t know about the eight Buddhist hells. Some descriptions of sinners pertaining to all stations of life sounded very close to The Divine Comedy, or to paintings by Bosch!
In The Spider’s Thread, we start in Paradise, but from there we see a robber in hell: Kandata. He doesn’t seem to have Yoshihide’s repulsive characteristics, but we discover Kandata’s true nature when he’s given a chance to get out of hell.
It was interesting to discover a very different style in Akutagawa’s short stories.
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WHICH BOOKS DO YOU FEEL LIKE READING?
WHICH ONES HAVE YOU ALREADY READ AND ENJOYED?