ASIA212Varley

They must have swum all the way up from the lower

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Unformatted text preview: 315 The perceiver in this scene is the main character of the novel, Shingo, a man in his sixties who is engulfed in the unhappiness of himself and those around him—a wife he has long ceased to love, a son who callously ignores his own wife for a mistress, and an embittered daughter just returned home from a disastrous marriage. In the midst of this turmoil of personal relationships, Shingo increasingly senses the specter of his own death. His forgetfulness, at first seemingly attributable to age, leads to a blurring of his awareness between consciousness and dreaming, between things that happened long ago and events as they unfold in the present. To Kawabata the world is a whole and man and nature are one, and he brilliantly handles Shingo as a perceiver both of human relations and of nature and its phenomena. In mood, The Sound of the Mountain is very much part of what appears to be the enduring Japanese tradition of sad beauty that is also connoted by mono no aware. A category of writing that inevitably made its appearance in the postwar period was that of books dealing with the war itself. Virtually without exception they were harshly critical of the war (indeed, all wars) and of Japan’s military establishment that conducted it. Perhaps the most terrifyingly stark depiction of the collapse of the once triumphant Japanese Imperial Army is Òoka Shòhei’s Fires on the Plain (Nobi, 1952), the story of a soldier who is expelled from his unit in the last days of the campaign in the Philippines because the unit, far from having a capacity to continue fighting, no longer possesses even the means to attend to the barest needs of its members. Wandering through the forests of Leyte with only the vaguest hope of eventually reaching a place from which he can be evacuated, the soldier comes upon a deserted village where he finds the corpses of Japanese soldiers piled at the steps leading to a church and, without pausing to consider his act, murders a defenseless Filipino woman who has returned to the village with her lover in search of salt. Upon leaving the village, the soldier encounters other soldiers similarly separ...
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