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Memoirs of a Geisha (1 Viewer)

kitaria

Member
A very well written book on japanese prostitution...

i read it a long time ago so can't really remember it well, but before reading this book i thought that prostitution was an easy life for those who accept it.. but in japan it's a whole new story...

the book shows the life of a girl who becomes a geisha, who has to go through training and fights to become the most popular geisha, and you also get to read through the moments in her life i.e losing her virginity, seeing to men, and finally a man who wishes to keep her for himself...

please read it and add to my comment...
 

Crunchy Hamster

Senior Member
Great book, but it is not a book on Japanese prostitution, it is a story about geisha and the story itself shows this distinction.

The book describes the life of a young girl who becomes a Geisha - lit. talented person - someone who entertains by pouring drinks, telling stories, conversing with guests, dancing, playing music and singing. This is what the main character does for a living. In the story, she sleeps with the person she gives her mizuage (first time) to, her danna, one or two affairs and the man she falls in love with. Does that sound like a prostitute?

In contrast, the main characters older sister does become a prostitute. The only entertaining she did was most likely on her back. An interesting distinction mentioned in dress is also that, while a geisha has her elaborate kimono tied with an obi - like a sash - at the back, a prostitutes obi is tied at the front. While a geisha probably spends many hours putting on a kimono with the assistance of a professional kimono fitter, a prostitute would do it by herself as she would have to take it off many times in one night for many different men....
 

Londongrey

Senior Member
This book although good never did quite satisfy me. It failed on mant aspects including making me care about the character.

The one book that did manage this on Japanese culture was 'The Tale of Murasaki'.

Alex
 

valeca

Patron
This is one of my favourite books, but probably more because of the circumstances in which it came to be in my possession, than for literary reasons.
Crunchy is right. It's not about prostitution.
Geisha literaly translates to 'courtesan', not prostitute. Being a Geisha was/is a noble institution.
Equating it with prostitution is probably the biggest misconception people have about the art forms these girls study for years.
 

Crunchy Hamster

Senior Member
valeca said:
This is one of my favourite books, but probably more because of the circumstances in which it came to be in my possession, than for literary reasons.
Crunchy is right. It's not about prostitution.
Geisha literaly translates to 'courtesan', not prostitute. Being a Geisha was/is a noble institution.
Equating it with prostitution is probably the biggest misconception people have about the art forms these girls study for years.

Thanks for the support, Valeca.

An interesting fact: the first Geisha were actually men. Similar to English theatre, there was a time that it was thought to be uncouth and slightly disgraceful for a woman to act or entertain, therefore it was men who did this - dressing as women for female roles. In Kabuki, this is still done today. Some male actors are specialists in this - just as is mentioned in the book...
 

LiberalDem

Senior Member
I, too, loved this novel. I was drawn completely in and couldn't put it down.

My only nitpick, and this has nothing to do with the novel--only with someone's post, is:

i thought that prostitution was an easy life for those who accept it.. but in japan it's a whole new story...

:shock:

I don't even know what to say to this. How could anyone think prostitution was an easy life?
 

Crunchy Hamster

Senior Member
LiberalDem said:
I, too, loved this novel. I was drawn completely in and couldn't put it down.

My only nitpick, and this has nothing to do with the novel--only with someone's post, is:

i thought that prostitution was an easy life for those who accept it.. but in japan it's a whole new story...

:shock:

I don't even know what to say to this. How could anyone think prostitution was an easy life?

I own two copies.

I guess from one perspective, prostitition is a fairly easy job compared to many others. To spare the details, lets just say than there are not many jobs in which you are paid for lying down...I think I will leave it at that...think about it...
 

lisajane

Senior Member
I doubt, very much, that prostitution is an easy life... if it was simply a matter of being paid to lie down, I assume many more people would be doing it.
 

Drzava

Senior Member
I think prostitution might not be so bad if proper protection is used and you aren't taking the job to get money to spend on drugs.

I've never read Memoirs of a Geisha after I heard the woman it was based on was extremely displeased about it and wrote her own book.

For the people that did like it, however, you might try reading Snow Country. It offers more insight to the geisha lifestyle.
 

cwilson

Member
It is quite a great read, and a very good piece of writing that shone among all of the other books i have been reading. It helped to feed my fascination with the Japanese culture as well.

And as far as prostitution goes, i wouldnt think it would be an easy life at all. Perhaps it *could* be, but in the conditions most of the prostitutes work, and with the type of men who go to them (in the united states at least -- in china i hear prostitution is quite a popular form of entertainment for bussiness men), it isnt all pillows and giggles. Also, though prostitution may be easy on your mind (requiring no more skill than knowing how to undress -- and half the time even this is done for you), it takes its toll on your soul. I don't mean that in a religeous way (hell, i cant even spell the word), and dont believe it will mark you as a "sinner" or whatnot, but i for one know that i would have a heavy wieght on my conscience if i resorted to prostitution.
 

Gruush

Member
Valeca:



Snow Country, wow, what a great book in terms of descriptive power. That's the kind of book that you can think of later and recall the overall "feel" of the whole novel. I highly recommend it. The translation is kinda stinky though.

We could start a whole thread on Japanese literature.

I liked "Memoirs" too. (How's that for deep literary analysis?)
 

Bethan

Member
I've never read Memoirs of a Geisha after I heard the woman it was based on was extremely displeased about it and wrote her own book

Actually I don't think she ever read it - the author didn't publish it until after her death - because that is the condition she made him agree to before she would tell him her story.

I thought the book was amazing - a very good insight into the thinking of Japanese women of that era and the importance that they place on reputation.

Hmmm not sure about this prostitution = easy life tho'....
 

Bethan

Member
Oops I apologise Drzava!

I wish I could remember where I read the bit I posted all I remember was it was online - if I find it I'll post....
 

mistress_batty

Senior Member
is this fiction or nonfiction? And if nonfiction, is it mainly about her becoming a geisha and going through that whole geisha 'job'? I ask because I'm taking a class write now about people and the work they do (i read books then write my own work related pieces and I'm looking for new books to read...)
^v^
 

styx

Member
mistress batty, Memoirs of a Geisha is fiction, but according to all the reviews/lit criticism it is very well-researched and accurate.

I believe this book is being made into a movie due out in winter 2005 or 2006. I think the writing style is pretty cinematic, so it might be translate well into another medium.
 
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