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'Clear and powerful' Kirkus Masks is perhaps Fumiko Enchi's finest work and her first to be translated into English In this stunning and subtle novel about seduction and infidelity in latter day Japan and about the destructive force of feminine jealousy and resentment Mieko Togano a handsome and cultivated woman in her 50s manipulates for her own bizarre purposes the relationship between her widowed daughter in law Yasuko and the two men in love with her


10 thoughts on “女面 Onnamen

  1. says:

    All the world's a stage and the main character of this book even though she is often behind the scenes is a vicious manipulative woman who controls those around her All those she comes in contact with are in her theater She approaches life as if she wrote the script designed the set and directed the play Her son has died and now she is controlling her daughter in law and her daughter in law’s male admirers She eventually manipulates everyone including a woman who is intellectually challenged to gain a grandson to re create her deceased son There must be a special place in hell for this woman The book published in 1958 is translated from the Japanese and has a bit of local color from Japan of the 1950's Some themes in the book include the Japanese noh masks and Japanese folklore about spirit possessionTop photo noh masks from historyofmasksnetimageshistoryofmasksMiddle photo from ae01alicdncomWood Japanese Noh MasThe author from theblankgardenfileswordpresscomEdited 12819 to add photos and correct typos


  2. says:

    No longer mere object no longer preyNo longer the one who wouldn't dareNo stung by the prick of infidelityYet no less woman than she was yesterdayNo the unloved girlchild of yoreNo longer pushed aside to a lesser roleNo just the wronged one Who dons her mantle of victimhoodAnd channels her impotent fury at the worldShe has her Noh masks now To wear like second skins at this masuerade ballDo you know the real her?She who lays out her cards and plays her hand well And risks all for the assertion of selfShe who is both seductress and stoicShe who soothes the fussing baby nestled in her arm's crookShe who condemns herself to a love so sadisticAnd scribbles tanka poetry in her notebookShe who lends a voice to the maligned Rokujō ladyShe who relegates Genji to the sidelinesShe who births a daughter in criminal secrecyAnd pines for her from afarShe who feigns allegiance to a lesser halfShe who plots terrible vengeance and leaves no stone unturnedShe who deceives man and husband and sonCan you tell them apart?Will you call this duplicity or craft?She is ryo no onna descended from her demon haunted hellShe is masugami The exiled madwoman finally escaping her prison cellShe is fukai but no a stolid bearer of painShe is woman reborn woman unveiled


  3. says:

    It was late at night past midnight that moment of silent serenity coupled with the magical sounds of nightlife when I finished this book; a night not so blue as the night I finished Didion's Blue Nights nor a night as sensational as the one I recall when I think of how I read A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain cover to cover but a uniue night nonetheless I'll remember the strange solemnity of that night because the mood around me seemed to embrace the mood of the book making it an even peculiar read and it's not too often that I recall a book and remember my particular posture at the time I was reading it Eerie all the talk about spirit connections and possessions in the novel and there I was the book taking control of my faculties its syntactical structuring and storytelling binding me When you know the masks as well as we do they come to seem like the faces of real women How does one even start to explain a novel which has many allusions to the Japanese Noh masks suggestive of the different faces women wear the concealed feelings they carry the silent strengths they possess? There is so much uncovered so subtly through symbolism that it's sometimes easy to miss in this carefully moving plot I didn't think I would be so smitten by the vindictively clever Mieko the poet and Yasuko her daughter in law and research assistant yet I was A deeply inward kind of look I think Japanese women long ago must have had that look And it seems to me she must be one of the last women who lives that way still like the masks with her deepest energies turned inward Ibuki is a married man in love with his friend's widow Yasuko His best friend Mikamé a bachelor and modern man interested in marrying but not particularly interested in living the traditional married life is also in love with Yasuko and her seemingly independent lifestyle However Yasuko and her mother in law Mieko are so close they could be lovers And nestled deep within the layers of the spooky mystery is the stunning Harumé Who is she and what is her role in all this drama? Of course someone gets their feelings hurt but since this is in no way the average drama of female protagonists the conclusion could come as a surprise; in fact it may even break your heart a little I on the other hand enjoyed every delicious turn and relished the idea of actually disliking a female protagonist's use of prowess ecstasy that was like dwelling in a world apart from reality Yes the element of surprise in a novel is always a much anticipated treat for me Just as there is an archetype of woman as the object of man's eternal love so there must be an archetype of her as the object of his eternal fear representing perhaps the shadow of his own evil actions The story moves in parallels of folklore and references to The Tale of Genji which could prove frustrating to some but for me the joy was in the discovery of the text within the text I haven't read The Tale yet but I didn't feel as though I missed anything by not reading it as the references are made with just the right subtexts If anything I'm now encouraged to read that book and many other books with Japanese settings seeing as how Enchi now has me enthralled with Japanese mysticism and storytelling that in some ways runs parallel to West African and Latin American storytelling textures


  4. says:

    Two parts of rice powder one part of Cetaphil lotion softening in the reluctant warmth of my palm on a droning afternoon Not a single Noh mask in sight The docile wintry wind was hardening the gummy paste onto my fingers; restricting the imminent bastardization of the Kabuki splendour about to take place in front of an ignorant mirror Two streaks on the cheeks one pat on the nose then the forehead and remaining three strokes on the neck The wheatish dermal stretch steadily concealed within the ephemeral white sheath The shiny red lacuer swiftly swept across the lips prompting the black kohl liner to smartly march beneath the eyes With the last swipe of the palm my face had confined itself within the gelatinous pale interiors its fine lines disappearing among the smooth exterior Ethereal unfamiliarity reflecting through the mirror and the pair of lonely perplexed dark brown irises turned out to be the solitary window of sincerity What was I thinking? What was I testing? This act of frivolity The pasty concoction plastered on my face had somehow pacified my nerves entangling them within my frenzied thoughts; the rowdy roads outside were suddenly silenced The blood gushing through my veins seemed to have forgotten to warm up my skin bursting it into a sea of goosebumps Such was the captivating power this childish act Ryo no Onna 霊女 “Just as there is an archetype of woman as the object of man’s eternal love so there must be an archetype of her object of his eternal fear representing perhaps the shadow of his own evil actions The famous Rokujo Lady the scorned lover of Prince Genji occupies a pivotal position mirroring the temperament of the Togano matriarch As the love chronicle replays in the 'Tale of Genji' the Rokujo Lady after feeling betrayed and envious of Genji’s new wife Lady Aoi the repressed soul of Rokujo lady caused the spirit to leave her body and torment Lady Aoi Enchi’s prominence on the portrayal of Rokujo Lady conceptualizes the origin of Mieko’s facade Mieko Togano’s affinity towards the Rokujo Lady purely on empathetic grounds brings forth a human aspect to one of the most devilish personality in the Japanese literary history The nationally prized ‘Ryo no onna’ mask is chilling in its ghoulish appearance The frosty exterior concealing a burning secret asphyxiating long nurtured desires with astound tranuillity The act of séance the ceaselessly floating spirit possessing another soul whilst creating a physical medium to procure communication reflects the mystical properties of a ‘mask’ possessing a physical visage fastening on to its human medium The darkness of inhibited desires muffled sexual prowess transmits a “shamanistic” vibe haunting the dilemma of a woman’s self pride The role plays interchanging between Mieko and the Aguri lady Enchi’s inclusion of the ‘shamanistic ritual’ as a route probing the validity of an outwardly experience in a world of reality favours the depth of attraction that Mieko has toward the Rokujo Lady and the connotation of Yasuko and Mieko veiled under a inexplicable expressionFurther besides the symbolic inclusion of The Tale of Genji Enchi makes noteworthy references to ‘Yoru no Nezame’ and ‘The Tales of Ise’ to elucidate the magnetism of sexual ecstasy that segregates realism from dreamy confusions orchestrating the incompetence of human emotions and the competence of self ego a weight indissoluble from a woman’s beingMasugami 増髪 “This mask forms a uniue type that of a woman in a state of frenzy” – Toyoichiro Nogami The philosophical lyricism that Mieko found in the Rokujo Lady descends on Harume’s existence The Masugami masks represents the “madwoman” or rather “a young woman in a state of frenzy”; a divine being heightened by spirit of shamanisms the body meant for human manipulation The worldly newly married Mieko the Aguri lady in the Togano family or Harume whose beauty shines with soft docility amid fireflies who would be the true possessor of the mask I wondered? The silent body of Harume reveals the inner eccentric world of the Togano domesticity Enchi’s delineation of Harume borders on ghostly metaphors creating a chimera of a pure soul and an untainted body acuiring an impenetrable emptiness Sex is viewed as of a corporeal act dismissing any logical reasoning prostituting the body as a medium in trance yielding a woman’s reticent self worth; sarcastically opposing the patriarchal institution The Masugami mask perfectly fits Harume whose ‘bright camellia lips’ pouring with sensuality mask the melancholic silence that consumed herFukai 深い Her spirit alternated constantly between spells of lyricism and spirit possession making no philosophical distinction between the self alone and in relation to the other and unable to achieve the solace of a religious indifference” A middle age woman with “exceedingly deep heart” tattered by the memories of a loved one A gloomy well where secrets buried deeply in the colourless waters are echoed through freezing solitude The woman who is driven by her painful past her unappeasable ambition and her swindled pride and who finds solace in poetic charms Mieko becomes the mask and the mask anticipates the arrival of YasukoMagojirō 孫次郎The mask representing a young woman with an alluring femininity at the zenith of her beauty forms the caricature of Yasuko Yasuko’s relationship with Mieko suggestively marginalizes cynicism of a homosexuality Conversely to the many debatable assumptions Yasuko’s faithful attachment to Mieko represents the unwritten rules of sisterhood and the lasting love for Akio The uandary of hankering independence and incidental dependence calculates Yasuko as the uintessential masked host the illusory medium Enchi’s ‘Masks’ develops into a forbidden malicious game challenging the age old hierarchal social institutions When you know the masks as well as we do they come to seem like the faces of real women The ornately convoluted narrative interweaves a pandemonium of manipulation vengeance sexuality androgyny undertones of homosexuality shamanistic procedures defining the fine line between mythical divinity and human psychology and most of all the spirituality of a woman and her body polluted by the hypocritical patriarchy Enchi’s women are represented through their bodies residing on the periphery of a social system The female body becomes a liberating source unifying the mind into one single entity The body becomes the mind voicing the dilemmas of a repressed woman The uterus then becomes the twofold weapon of fulfilment and misery Sexuality strongly comes in play categorising body sex and womb as significant parameters of female identity unable to find recognition through the world of thoughts Enchi’s emphasis of bringing the female individuality through the representation of a perishable yet sexual physicality depicts the second rate status of women in a patriarchal society The body and the womb which could be easily outlawed for being futile or fouled cultivate the victimisation of a woman bordering ambivalent psyche Mieko Togano’s brazen usage of sexual ecstasy mocks the feudal social codes turning the patriarchal system upside down Meiko's malevolent strategies of using men as pawns for the fulfilment of her own aspirations is downright fascinating when perceived with ironical display of men bestowing the euivalent treatment to women for decadesEnchi‘s insatiable prose immaculately communicates between the nobility of the Noh art and the interrelated configurations illuminating the empathetic world beyond the dreamy artistry asserting the awareness and subjectivity of self existence in societal segregation and the search for a plausible independence The androgynous nature of Noh male actors playing female roles delicately unearths the unisexual nature constituting spirituality between a male and a female foetus embodying the euitable nature of the womb Enchi further takes this particular Noh element into depicting the similarities between the divergent subsistence of Akio and Harume Masks is Enchi’s masterwork in exploring the fundamental nature of a woman’s mentality through the realms of her body inferring the palpable scenario of the female body resonating the cry of an demoralized soul when the mouth is mutedAre women a bunch of vengeful creatures? Are they viciously manipulative? If a woman’s naive devotion to the capricious love rapidly festers into endless flow of a rancorous “river of blood”; the power of hatred thunderously churning the vicissitudes of love the unjust reality and the deepened longings harbouring the darkness of its remoteness If a woman’s hatred is terrifying if the fascination for retribution resonates the shrieks of a frenzied banshee possessing the very constitution of a wounded woman; the puppetry of the stoic masks fervently gripping the intensity of grief its arrogance only to be momentarily washed down by a solitary soft tear Then what would one concur about the ‘man’ who had helped to sow these fateful seeds of acrimony? Yes what about that person? Does he not play a single part in the crime? Where would the man stand in the indicted arena of being either an accomplice or rather a culprit? Or is it that the man has always been a privileged animal of a blameless acuittal? Men are susceptible to that sort of thing Our society gets so worked up over it now always siding with the woman that no one dares examine the matter fairly that’s the way it is The eastern winds had boorishly cracked the pearly smoothness Yet the aura of the pasty concoction withstood the repugnance of the flaky visage Shamelessly exposed and vulnerable as my face stood amid the grainy diluted swirls it was still caught up in the rapture of the Rokujo Lady and the women of the Togano household The lasting traces of goosebumps could vouch for it


  5. says:

    “The secrets inside her mind are like flowers in a garden at nighttime filling the darkness with perfume” Fumiko Enchi MasksThis is my first book by a female Japanese author The ones that come after Enchi will have a lot to live up to The book started off slowly but it soon held my interest and was uite surprising in some ways despite its subtle toneI don’t know much about Noh plays but it was clear that the use of masks was a metaphor for hiding one’s true self In this case the secrecy is evident in the bizarre relationship between the widowed Yasuko and Mieko her 50 something year old mother in law who seems to be manipulating Yasuko plus the two men who are in love with her We spend the entire novel trying to get to know about Mieko“She has a peculiar power to move events in whatever direction she pleases while she stays motionless She’s like a uiet mountain lake whose waters are rushing beneath the surface toward a waterfall She’s like the face of a No mask wrapped in her own secrets”This book is shrouded in mystery which is made even fascinating by discussion of spiritualism and the love triangle between Yasuko and her two suitors There is curiosity about whether Mieko is controlling Yasuko’s spirit this fact even uestioned by Yasuko herself “Not I Mother It’s you who like him—somehow time and again your feelings seem to take hold of me This is not just some crazy excuse; so many times I’ve found myself doing things that don’t make a bit of sense—and every time without fail I feel you there in the background manipulating me like a puppet”I enjoyed the literary critiue of a section of “The Tale of the Genji” which I’ve never read before regarding female shamanism I think the book can in part be seen as an analysis of the Japanese woman both in modern times and in the olden days I’m not sure if much has changed at least according to Enchi; women are seen as manipulative jealous etc At the same time I think Enchi allowed us to see how multi faceted her female characters were which is something I always appreciate in literature Not only are women multi faceted apparently they are sort of enigmas too unknowable to the male characters “Children—think what endless trouble men have gone to over the ages to persuade themselves that the children their women bore belonged to them Making adultery a crime inventing chastity beltsbut in the end they were unable to penetrate even one of women’s secrets”In the end all these ingredients leave us with is a story that is so compelling interesting and shocking I’m also left with the desire to read “The Tale of the Genji” I’m sure with that book under my belt and knowledge of Noh plays I’ll rate this book higher


  6. says:

    If you look for fuckery intrigue especially tagged with such words as women revenge manipulation and wtf is going on here pick Japanese They mastered all the aforementioned subjectsWell I've got a very mixed feelings about this book On one hand I enjoyed it the writing style and the main idea but I got lost about why? and so? Anyway 35 stars is pretty fair it seems to me


  7. says:

    A man may try as hard as he likes but he'll never know what schemes a woman may be slowly and uietly carrying out behind his backThe Tale of Enchi Fumiko Enchi started her career as a dramatist; she was influenced by Ibsen and Strindberg and cultivated an interest in kabuki She emerged in the early 50's as a novelist of the fates of women both past and contemporary Between 1967 and 1972 she translated Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji into modern Japanese It is with this most enduring Japanese literary classic that Masks draws its parallels supping on the perception of a woman's possession of a hidden supernatural energy Masks is the story of vindictiveness passion jealousy and vengeance of women in solidarity aiming to achieve retribution against men to perpetrate a crime only women could commit It is an exploration of class sexual oppression and the suppression of women in a traditionally patriarchal society Enchi brilliantly weaves a reinterpretation of the character Rokujō lady from The Tale of Genji with the vengeful spirit of the heroine Mieko whose husband Togano Masatsugu believed to be descended from a powerful clan in line to become feudal lords and who still adhered to dominating misogynistic codes had caused her severe and immeasurable humiliation and suffering throughout their marriage The novel is sectioned into three chapters each named for Nō masks which metaphorically depict the novel's cloaked particulars and in turn define its supernatural concerns The first chapter named Ryō no onna means 'spirit woman' the vengeful spirit of an older woman tormented by the bitterness of her life Mieko's obsession with 'shamanism' spirit possession and artful yet subtle manipulation become evident here In her scholarly treatise relating to The Tale of Genji Mieko seems to sympathize and identify with the character Rokujō lady She writes As passion transforms the Rokujō lady into a living ghost her spirit taking leave of her body again and again to attack and finally to kill Genji's wife Aoi the commentators see in her tragic obsession a classic illustration of the evil karma attached to all womankindthe Rokujō lady turned unconsciously to spirit possession as the only available outlet for her strong will The Rokujō lady is instead a Ryō no onna one who chafes at her inability to sublimate her strong ego in deference to any man but who can carry out her will by forcing it upon others and that indirectly through the possessive capacity of her spirit The second section of the novel is named for the Nō mask Masugami meaning young madwoman a woman as victim a young woman in a state of frenzy Each female character had at some point been reduced to a frenzied state Aguri the mistress Mieko the wife Yasuko the daughter in law Harumé the mentally handicapped daughter Through Yasuko Mieko controls the seduction of Ibuki Yasuko's lover He awakens to find Harumé in his bed; the treachery that he experiences is veiled in a dreamlike scenario Her heavily rouged camellia bright lips were ripe with sensuality and her face was the face of Masugami The mask of the young madwoman which he had seen at the home of Yorikata Yakushiji It was all wrongnot knowing whether he might be drunk or dreaming but sensing with faint vestiges of consciousness that rational thought lay for the time beyond his powers A woman's love is uick to turn into a passion for revenge an obsession that becomes an endless river of blood flowing on from generation to generation Fukai heads the third and final chapter meaning deep well or deep woman depicting middle aged women a metaphor comparing the heart of an older woman to the depths of a bottomless well a well so deep that its water would seem totally without color Mieko finally defines herself in this mask After the twist and anguish that comes full circle like karmic influence Mieko is left bereft She comes to understand the crime she has perpetrated realizes the result of her revenge and its effect on herself and others The final scene is so esoteric the reader is mesmerized by Mieko's hypnotic kabuki like pose In that moment the mask dropped from her grasp as if struck down by an invisible hand In a trance she reached out and covered the face on the mask with her hand while her right arm as if suddenly paralyzed hung frozen immobile in space For those who have read The Tale of Genji Masks is a welcomed very brief revisitation of the Murasaki classic The supernaturalism is rendered in typical Japanese style subtle mysterious illusory poetic; it will utterly engage fans of Japanese fiction writers like Tanizaki and Kawabata


  8. says:

    I don't know another goodreader already made the nohknow pun or I would do it right noh much about noh dramas apart from tinges hinging on other stories rather than the colors lens of the storytelling itself I mean The door itself? Tosh a most excellent goodreads reviewer wrote in a review of another book I think it was a Yukio Mishima book of noh plays? comparing it as part filmmaker Robert Bresson I am going to absorb that like I do for all mysterious poetry art nature human beings explanations It makes sense in the way that something makes sense to me now I have to try and explain how it makes sense to me oh noh That sense being a measurement of other senses to rely on company frames of reference boxed in corners and circular lines blah blah blah I have the feeling I've said this plenty of other times on goodreads Robert Bresson's Notes on the Cinematographer is a self help book for me to explain shit to me I'll say Masks was an interesting follow up read to Soseki's Kusamakura What relation to art is life? I need my self help book now It's my staring off into space and trying to feel there's something sitting next to me that's what I feel like I need some natural movement with the masks Don't run after poetry It penetrates unaided through the joins ellipses What Bresson saidAvoid paroxysms anger terror etc which one is obliged to simulate and which everybody is alike Robert Bresson The masks are what already is of the anger terror etc the everybody alikeness There would have to be frustrating limitations of assignments of age and status like wearing a uniform Then it would be up to people to not see just a middle aged woman I guess that's the old high school debate of to be or not to be uniforms?Fumiko Enchi's Masks very nearly gets there as a work of art drawing on life imitating art imitating life imitating art The seeing inside deliberately chosen masks There was a point when the timed theatre curtains should have parted to show what was different like Bresson I think it is important to recognize the sameness AND the differences for the chance of poetry Shades damnit Art AND lifeThe mask's forehead and cheeks were well rounded; the suggestion of a smile hovered around the eyes their lids curved and drooping and the lips half parted to reveal a glimpse of teeth By some extraordinary artistry in the carving of the mask that smile could change mysteriously into a look of weepingI admit it I'm deeply fascinated with the masks as these sort of alike all too human emotions that become different from what's inside behind that mask what is turned inward for oneself and what's outside The artistry is the part that comes outside That is the part that I can never get enough of It was frustrating because there are glimpses of that in Masks I couldn't help thinking that the one person meant to see those masks must be my own mother in law not because she sees No performed so often or because she can appreciate the artistry of the masks but because of that look of utter tranuillity they have a deeply inward sort of look I think Japanese women long ago must have had that look And it seems to me she must be one of the last women who lives that way still like the masks with her deepest energies turned inward I'd sensed something of the sort all along in a vague way but yesterday as I watched her studying those masks and costumes it came to me clearly than ever beforeMieko is mother in law to Yasuko Her son had died in an avalanche a year prior to the events of Masks Mieko replaces her son in Yasuko's life I'm not sure that I swallowed the Tale of Genji echoes of shamanism within women on each other and on the men in their lives Two men of their acuaintence are in love with Yasuko supposedly all designed by the still waters supposedly run oh so deep Mieko The sign says KEEP OUT BEWARE OF DOG Yasuko confesses to feeling that she is directed by Mieko The married of the two men Ibuki senses there is to the puppet strings than she will say He is right The directness of the speech about the man behind the green curtain was intriguing at first Romances could defintely feel staged Parental influence as sinister? YeahI liked this descriptionIn T'ang and Sung paintings of beautiful women or in a Moronou print of a courtesan the main figure is always twice the size of her attendants It's the same with Buddhist triads the sheer size of a main image makes the smaller bodhisattvas on either side that much approachable Perspective has nothing to do with it so at first the imbalance is disturbing but then it has a way of drawing you in Anyway to me Mieko is the large sized courtesan and Yasuko is the little girl attendant at her sideWhen Mieko was young she married a man who had a mistress installed as a housemaid in their home She designed for Mieko to be killed she survived the baby did not Mieko has an affair with another man and it was to him that she births a boy and a girl The girl is forever a child The Genji parallels comes into it again at least as believed by Mieko and her protege when the mistress gets her revenge on Mieko by years later causing the death of the two adult children as a spirit of female ego from Genji Mieko gets her revenge in before the other woman's revenge by arranging for Yasuko's lover to knock up the simple minded twin when he thinks he's getting it on with Yasuko They have a baby and the mistress doesn't succeed in wiping out the line Okay I don't think that the revenge plans were all that interesting after the build up of inward soul searching of Mieko THAT was it? Dictionary jealousy and revenge? BUT WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THEIR LIVES?It's too bad because for a good part of the book Enchi had me going that the expressions of grief and longing were shared on the two women like they could be wearing the same face and sharing something so personal by that recognition Kinda like That must be what I look like I miss him too This must be how you feel Enchi almost had it when she was hovering between the unseen emotions on plain dark sleeves Instead the scent from her flowers of darkness were stale Store bought potpurri Anyone can have that What is influence from the west? What it means to be a woman? I don't get it when I read in books that women are jealous it is in their nature to cleave blah blah What are these female masks? They must look different when someone puts them on That's what I needed Sorry Enchi the lights came on too soonAfter Mieko had taken the mask Fukai in her hands and studied it the sunken cheeked sorrow stricken face traveled around the circlce from hand to hand All of the young women married and single were gaily dressed and vivacious but as each one held up the mask and gazed at it in turn her features would be crossed by a look of lonely solemnity that seemed to mirror the shadows in the mask As if to escape that solemnity they were lavish with praise exclaiming over the masks like foreigners What an exuisite sad sort of beauty it has Women today have lost this uiet gracefulnessFukaiZo no onnaRyo no onnaPs Praj is right that I should read Tales of Genji Fumiko Enchi translated Gengi into modern Japanese I can tell that the story had had a big influence on her I'll read it with the female ego in mind


  9. says:

    'Your feelings seems to take hold of me This is not just some crazy excuse; so many times I've found myself doing things that don't make sense and every time without fail I feel you there in the background manipulating me like a puppet'From MASKS by Fumiko Enchi translated from the Japanese by Juliet Winter Carpenter 1958 Japanese 1983 English translation #JanuaryinJapanA darkly enchanting and sensual tale of revenge destruction sex secrets power and legacy Enchi wrote one hell of a story Just 140 pages with a small cast of characters and it leaves an indelible mark in my mindEach chapter is named after a traditional mask used in the Nō theater and characters in the story take on similar characteristics of the mask the bitter the frenzied the experienced women Included in the story are fascinating details about the ancient Nō theatrical form and the masks as historic and artistic objects themselvesA familiarity with The Tale of Genji the 11th century Japanese epic may be helpful for a deeper understanding but I have not read this first novel and was able to keep up and deeply appreciate Enchi was a scholar and translator of the ancient text into modern Japanese so it's clear why this literature plays a large role in her novelsThe I think about this one the I loved it Seductive and psychologically thrillingI'm reminded of one of my faves from 2019 The Naked Woman by Armonía Somers translated from the Spanish by Kit Maude Although different in form and from the other side of the globe Uruguay there's a similar unbridled and supernaturaldivine feminine element in both Cool synergy both amazing stories


  10. says:

    I'm not going to pretend I know what exactly was going on here or that my main motivation for rewarding this four stars is anything complicated than the thrills of fear and lust Woman as mother woman as horror woman as the womb of the tomb It's all be done before and so long as rapists are viewed as delicate unjailable flowers who could not possible survive the chance of being raped themselves it will continue The intrigue then is a matter of how involved an artist is in complicating this same old same old playing out the recognizably modern against a backdrop of a millennium that has less to do with politics and everything you commit yourself to in the deepest socket of overwhelming night Telling a story helps for the free potential of narratives pales in comparison to the expectations of readers who compose the hegemony that draws the line between literature and all the rest Murasaki Shikibu was a woman but survival has never been anything than a theatre of chance and exploitation If you want to use her to circumvent all that be prepared to descend into the stigma generated around sex work and emotional labor and menstruation and disability else you'll just be glutting yourself alongside all the restLately I've been mulling over revenge horror played in the female key from a seuential rewatch of Ju On 1 and 2 to my favorite character story arc in the current season of Penny Dreadful One thing I've noticed is however bad it gets and however much audiences choose to ignore it the patriarchy is always worse Sure innocent victims die a dime a dozen but it takes a special kind to murder a woman and have it automatically assumed that she drove you to it Miscarriage and monthly bleeding and maternal influence and call be a drag but how do you think the human species continues in the first place? Certainly not by the various means of erotic auto asphyxiation conducted by men wanting it all despite never being able to have anything to show for it when all is said and done and that gender of self titled perfection is so much bone and ash From that you get the manipulation the socioeconomic exploitation of the one and the normalized rape of the masculine of the other a man is 33 times likely to be raped than to be falsely accused of rape don'tcha know the strangling and the chopping and whatever else is necessary to revenge oneself after being bought and sold like so much livestock and even after as insult to injury sabotaged in the midst of the breeding Everyone knows why women shed the blood they do What's rare is to tell the truth about the originHonestly I don't think anyone should attempt reading this until they've gotten The Tale of Genji and The Waiting Years under their belt if not others but that sort of bias is easily circumvented by rereading Still there are those out there who hold their first reads sacred Personally Im off to chase down 500 bajillion articlesbookslecture series that focus on the first work mentioned I don't know what it is that stokes this particular appetite of mine but with a millennium of criticism that will even at times lurk into the realms of fictional literature I'm in good company