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Thread: Memoirs of a Geisha

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Memoirs of a Geisha

    Let me introduce this great book to those of you who don't know it yet. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden, is a must-read for anyone with an interest in traditional Japan or, of course, geishas.

    Here is my personal review I posted on Amazon.co.uk (and that was, to my stupefaction, selected as the first out of 161 reviews so far) :


    When I first started to read Memoirs of a Geisha, I had forgotten to read on the back of the cover that this was a fiction and not a true story. I only came to realise it after having read 100 pages. The story is so deep in feelings and feel so much as if you were in Chiyo/Sayuri's mind that I was wondering how one can remember things with such an intensity. The book is beautifully written and though I usually don't read fictions, I couldn't help but turn pages after pages in the suspense of the following events.

    At times, I remember having been moved so deeply that it influenced my social behaviour in the real life - until I finished the book ! Maybe because I am living in Japan and am married to a Japanese. I have been shocked by the accuracy with which is rendered the meanest traits of the Japanese mentality. Arthur Golden portraits the psychology of a very sensitive world, where the greed, passions and suffering can destroy the humanity inside us, or at contrary show how nearly lost hopes can make one survive the hardships of life.

    But don't be fooled if you think you'll find such a world for real in present day Japan; it has all but vanished, like most of the traditional Japanese culture. I have recently bought a Japanese translation of the book for my wife who, like most people nowadays, know very little about Geishas. But it is not so much for the historical background as for the griping, deeply emotional story that I recommend it.
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  2. #2
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    I devoured the book at once, Mr. Golden certainly did his homework! Nice review, Maciamo.


    There are more Geisha books mentioned in this thread. I've ordered a new title from Amazon, "Women of the Pleasure Quarters: The Secret History of the Geisha", still waiting for it.

  3. #3
    Regular Member samuraitora's Avatar
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    @Thomas And Maciamo
    both are excellent books. I don't read much, don't normally have time to. For the Golden book, I made an exception.

    Excellent, excellent review Maciamosan
    ja mata
    samuraitora
    (^_-)/

  4. #4
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    I've posted this article before, but forgot where.

    Ex-geisha takes objection to "Memoirs of a Geisha"

    => http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/japano/011...ex-geisha.html

  5. #5
    Regular Member moyashi's Avatar
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    The water world is an extension of the floating world.

    You are taken into a dream like world were the girls treat men and play to thier wildest fancies yet, touching and what not is limited by both the gals and the men.

    All for a nice price though
    crazy gonna crazy

  6. #6
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    Add soap to the water, and you'll get everything. Cheaper.
    ;)

  7. #7
    Regular Member moyashi's Avatar
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    Probably.
    The other night. At a midly relative regular "club" me and this other guy blew $200 for 90 minutes of a few drinks and chit chat. For another $30-40 probably would've got a hell alot more than just chit-chat.
    ;)

  8. #8
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    It's about time your wife returns home.
    ;)

  9. #9
    Regular Member moyashi's Avatar
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    I've got till about the 14th of October. But ever since she got out of the hospital I've been a good boy and have stuck to watching loosy Japanese horror movies and hanging out here.


  10. #10
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    Don't forget to vacuum-clean before she's coming home, lol. Hope they are both fine!

  11. #11
    Regular Member moyashi's Avatar
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    OH yes, I do that and more.
    Trash
    Gold Fish (food + tank)
    Cats (food + toile)
    Vacuum + Roll tape the carpet (kuru kuru carpet - is what we call those roll things)
    and
    Laundry

    And anything else my wife can dream up!

    They're both doing great! Thanks

  12. #12
    Junior Member hannahgirl7's Avatar
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    Memoirs of a Giesha

    Hey kids, I just finished reading "Memoirs of a Giesha" by Arthur Golden, and I loved it so much!! I was just wondering if anyone else has read it or has anything at all to say about the book, how realistic it is or isn't, or whatever....
    love,
    Hannah

  13. #13
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed that book!

    Maciamo came up with an excellent review, check out the following thread

    => http://forum.japanreference.com/show...=&threadid=643




    Maciamo => I have merged the threads
    Last edited by Maciamo; Dec 11, 2003 at 11:29.

  14. #14
    Villain Iron Chef's Avatar
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    Talking

    I've not yet had the chance to read it although from all accounts it appears to be extremely well-written. Recent hollywood rumours abound that Steven Spielberg has been eyeing possibly bringing an adaptation of it to the big screen although i'm not sure of the status of that project and whether or not he is still involved. I'll try and find out more.


    *edits*
    This 1998 story shows Spielberg's burgeoning interest to develop the film in English using a Japanese cast and shot in Japan...

    http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,2924,00.html

    This 2002 story shows Spielberg moving away from bringing Memoirs to the big screen in favor of doing A.I. and eventually Minority report...

    http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hp&cf...405114&intl=us

    After that, it's a bit confusing as to what the staus of the greenlighted project currently is. From what i've gatherd, Spielberg's studio (Dreamworks) bought the film rights to Geisha although the film has also been reported to be in development by Sony and Columbia pictures. Furthermore, Spileberg may still direct now that he has the time or take a more backseat role as a producer for the film. At any rate, should be interesting and with Spielberg's background in film making I think he would do it justice.

  15. #15
    Junior Member hannahgirl7's Avatar
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    Iron chef, you should read this book as soon as you have the chance, i could not put it down! i would be interested to see a movie based on "memoirs" though i think it would be a challenge to convey the book in a similar way to the beautiful style which it is written. Spielberg usually does do a wonderful job though.... ;)

  16. #16
    Taicho mdchachi's Avatar
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    I also read it recently and found it quite good but found the second half where it gets into this whole mizu-age thing and romantic intrigue, well, kind of boring. I also felt kind of let down because at first I believed the premise and didn't realize it was all fiction. I was, however, very impressed with the amount of detail and research that went into it. Most of it seemed factual and believable. Definitely a good read.

    But right afterwards I read Liza Dalby's book, Geisha. Out of the two, I find Geisha far more interesting and satisfying. But, then, I much prefer non-fiction over fiction. There are so many fantastic true stories that it seems like a waste of time to read fiction.

    That reminds me, I still haven't read Iwasaki's Geisha: A Life. She was one of Golden's primary sources and she has publicly debunked Memoirs.
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/...20030228b8.htm

  17. #17
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    Gus, thanks for the info!

    At the moment, I'm reading Lesley Downer's "Women of the Pleasure Quarters", I'll post a review in our book section once I've finished it.

  18. #18
    Taicho mdchachi's Avatar
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    After I made that last post, I went to the library and got Minesako Iwasaki's book, Geisha: A Life. I found it to be a very interesting read and found it much more interesting than Golden's book simply because it was nonfiction and talked about somebody's real life. Although Golden's prose was to be admired and his skill at telling the story from a woman's point of view was outstanding, after a while I found his prose to be over-to-the-top. Research has shown that when people lie they add a bunch of extra details to make their lies appear true -- Golden's book struck me in this way with his over the top descriptions of the "crab-like" doctor and disfigured love interest as well as the protagonists own emotions and experiences.

    If you read Iwasaki's book as well as Dalby's book after reading Memoirs, a lot of the people and tales will ring familiar.

    If anything, though, both of these books will show you that Golden did a good job of capturing the reality of how life really was. However the main thing that I believe probably got Iwasaki upset was Golden's premise that geisha sell off their mizuage (virginity) to the highest bidder. Iwasaki barely touched on it in her book but basically said this was a practice of prostitutes or courtesans, not geisha.

  19. #19
    Regular Member Tellklaus's Avatar
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    I read that book few months ago..and I also think it was really well written. awesome book!

  20. #20
    Regular Member samuraitora's Avatar
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    Wonderful book

  21. #21
    Junior Member Kakesu's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed Memoirs, and thought it really well written. Actually, for the first few chapters I'd assumed Arthur Golden was the translator.. ^^

    @ mdchachi ~ I'm not sure I agree with you about real life accounts making fiction redunant. Maybe from a historian's perspective, but fiction has it's values. Allegory, escapism, artistry, and so on. Things not always present in writing limited by facts. Still, that's just my opinion. : )

  22. #22
    Regular Member samuraitora's Avatar
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    wonderfully put kakesu-san

  23. #23
    Junior Member Chacrazy's Avatar
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    You might want to check out Geisha by Liza Dalby. She is one of the few foreigners that's actually been a geisha in Kyoto. I read her book before Memoirs and almost liked it more.

    I've heard the rumors about Spielberg for a long time. It was also rumored that Madonna was trying to get the lead part. That's why she went through that phase of having dark, straight hair and wearing kimono-like costumes for her videos. I think that album was Ray of Light or shortly thereafter. She didn't get the part, as far as I've heard, thank goodness!

  24. #24
    Regular Member destiny's Avatar
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    i read "memoirs of a geisha" some years ago and i liked it
    See You At The Bitter End

  25. #25
    Banned Onigiri Chan's Avatar
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    of course

    I read Memoirs Of a Geisha, a beautifully written story and very convincing. I even went out to see if some of the references made in the story (ie: angry artist) were real or at least based on someone who once lived. I was wrong and right, unfortunately.
    Anyone who hasn't read this book is deffinately missing out.
    Read it everyone!

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