Difference between revisions of "Memoirs of a Geisha"

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'''''Memoirs of a Geisha''''' is a novel by [[Arthur Golden]] published on 1997-09-27. It tells the story of a Japanese girl named Chiyo Sakamoto living in a very poor town. She loses her mother at the age of nine and her elderly father sells her and her sister to a geisha boarding house where she is taught to be a geisha. She becomes very successful and brings a lot of money to her house, but also falls in love with a man she cannot have. Her life, and the life of everyone in Japan is turned upside down when Japan surrenders, and her home is suddenly filled with foreigners.
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'''''Memoirs of a Geisha''''' is a novel by [[Arthur Golden]] published on 1997-09-27. It tells the story of a Japanese girl named Chiyo Sakamoto who, at the age of nine, is sold to a geisha boarding house where she is taught to be a geisha. She becomes very successful and brings a lot of money to her house, but, despite being adored by many menu, her life is cold and lonely, and she falls in love with a man she can never be with.
  
I learned about this book in the mid-2000s because it became popular enough to have a [[Memoirs of a Geisha (film|movie]] made about it. I wisely read the book before seeing the movie. After enjoying the book, and thinking the movie was acceptable, I read about what critics were saying about book. It turned out that the book was actually pretty racist, containing a lot of Orientalism where the author exaggerated aspects of Japanese life in order to make it seem more exotic, especially in regard to geisha life. For example, in the book, geisha auction off their virginity, but in real Japanese culture, only prostitutes would do this, not geisha.
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I learned about this book in the mid-2000s because it became popular enough to have a [[Memoirs of a Geisha (film|movie]] made about it. I wisely read the book before seeing the movie. After enjoying the book, and thinking the movie was acceptable, I read about what critics were saying about book and was disappointed to learn that the book is actually pretty racist, containing a lot of Orientalism where Golden exaggerated aspects of Japanese life in order to make it seem more exotic, especially in regard to geisha life. For example, in the book, geisha auction off their virginity, but in real Japanese culture, only prostitutes would do this, not geisha.
  
 
==Review==
 
==Review==
 
===Good===
 
===Good===
 +
* The story is well-written. It describes a woman persevering through serious hardships,
 +
* Hatsumomo is a fiendishly evil villain.
 +
* The author, Arthur Golden, consulted actual geisha for information about the book, which is nice.
 +
 
===Bad===
 
===Bad===
 +
* The life described by Golden in the book, while great for a story, doesn't fit with actual biographies of real geisha.
 +
 
===Ugly===
 
===Ugly===
 +
* In order to make the setting seem more appealing, the author exaggerates aspects of Japanese culture so much, it borders on racist caricature.
 +
* Mineko Iwasaki, one of the geisha with whom the author consulted to get inside information into the life of a geisha only spoke with him on the condition that her identity never be revealed, but the author included her name in the finished book anyway.
 +
* The introduction paints the book as though it is an actual biography of a real geisha. I believed this for a large part of the book, but several of the Japanese culture exaggerations made me suspect, so I checked and verified that it was not a real biography. I don't like it when authors pretend their fiction is real, it makes me feel very cheated.
  
 
==Links==
 
==Links==

Revision as of 13:01, 24 September 2018

Memoirs of a Geisha is a novel by Arthur Golden published on 1997-09-27. It tells the story of a Japanese girl named Chiyo Sakamoto who, at the age of nine, is sold to a geisha boarding house where she is taught to be a geisha. She becomes very successful and brings a lot of money to her house, but, despite being adored by many menu, her life is cold and lonely, and she falls in love with a man she can never be with.

I learned about this book in the mid-2000s because it became popular enough to have a movie made about it. I wisely read the book before seeing the movie. After enjoying the book, and thinking the movie was acceptable, I read about what critics were saying about book and was disappointed to learn that the book is actually pretty racist, containing a lot of Orientalism where Golden exaggerated aspects of Japanese life in order to make it seem more exotic, especially in regard to geisha life. For example, in the book, geisha auction off their virginity, but in real Japanese culture, only prostitutes would do this, not geisha.

Review

Good

  • The story is well-written. It describes a woman persevering through serious hardships,
  • Hatsumomo is a fiendishly evil villain.
  • The author, Arthur Golden, consulted actual geisha for information about the book, which is nice.

Bad

  • The life described by Golden in the book, while great for a story, doesn't fit with actual biographies of real geisha.

Ugly

  • In order to make the setting seem more appealing, the author exaggerates aspects of Japanese culture so much, it borders on racist caricature.
  • Mineko Iwasaki, one of the geisha with whom the author consulted to get inside information into the life of a geisha only spoke with him on the condition that her identity never be revealed, but the author included her name in the finished book anyway.
  • The introduction paints the book as though it is an actual biography of a real geisha. I believed this for a large part of the book, but several of the Japanese culture exaggerations made me suspect, so I checked and verified that it was not a real biography. I don't like it when authors pretend their fiction is real, it makes me feel very cheated.

Links