Yasunari Kawabata

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Kawabata, Yasunari

(yäso͞onä`rē käwä`bätä), 1899–1972, Japanese novelist. His first major work was The Izu Dancer, (1925). He came to be a leader of the school of Japanese writers that propounded a lyrical and impressionistic style, in opposition to the proletarian literature of the 1920s. Kawabata's melancholy novels often treat, in a delicate, oblique fashion, sexual relationships between men and women. For example, Snow Country (tr. 1956), probably his best-known work in the West, depicts the affair of an aging geisha and an insensitive Tokyo businessman. All Kawabata's works are distinguished by a masterful, and frequently arresting, use of imagery. Among his works in English translation are the novels Thousand Cranes (tr. 1959), The Sound of the Mountain (tr. 1970), and The Lake (tr. 1974), and volumes of short stories, The House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories (tr. 1969) and First Snow on Fuji (tr. 1999). In 1968, Kawabata became the first Japanese author to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Four years later, in declining health and probably depressed by the suicide of his friend Yukio MishimaMishima, Yukio
, 1925–70, Japanese author, b. Tokyo. His original name was Kimitake Hiraoka and he was born into a samurai family. Mishima wrote novels, short stories, essays, and plays. He appeared on stage in some of his plays as well as directing and starring in films.
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, he committed suicide.


See his Nobel Prize speech, Japan the Beautiful and Myself (tr. 1969); study by G. B. Petersen (1979).

Kawabata, Yasunari


Born June 11, 1899, in Osaka; died Apr. 16, 1972, in Zushi. Japanese writer; member of the Japanese Academy of Art (1953). Son of a doctor.

Kawabata graduated from the department of Japanese philology of the University of Tokyo in 1924. During the early 1920’s he became part of the modernistic group of neosensual-ists. His first important work, The Izu Dancer (1926), is a lyrical story about youth. Several of Kawabata’s works (for example, the short story “Crystal Fantasia”) were written under the influence of J. Joyce; however, the core of his artistic thought is based on the aesthetics of Zen, which rejects the rational view of the world and stresses that which is natural and artless. The originality of Kawabata’s artistic style is particularly evident in his lyric novella Snow Country (1937), which consists of a series of short stories joined only by their poetic associations. The tea ceremony, an ancient custom raised to the level of a unique art, forms the basis of Kawabata’s novella Thousand Cranes (1951), for which he received the prize of the Japanese Academy of Art. His novels The Sound of the Mountain (1953) and The Old Capital (1961) are characterized by their inner lyricism. In 1968, Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize; his books have been translated into many languages.


Kawabata Yasunari zenshu, vols. 1–12. Tokyo, 1960.
In Russian translation:
In the collection Iaponskaia novella. Moscow, 1961.
Tysiachekrylyi zhuravl’. Moscow, 1971.


Grigor’eva, I. “Chitaia Kavabata Iasunari.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1971, no. 8.
Saegusa Iasutaka. Kawabata Yasunari. Tokyo, 1961.


References in periodicals archive ?
Shiga has not received the same attention as his contemporaries Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Tanizaki Jun'ichiro - although Shiga lived thirty-four years longer, his last and most important writing was the one novel-length work, A Dark Night's Passing (An'ya koro) in 1937 - let alone more recent figures such as Nobel laureates Kawabata Yasunari and Oe Kenzaburo as well as Mishima Yukio.
In the early 1930s he was associated with the novelists Kawabata Yasunari and Yokomitsu Riichi on the journal Bungaku-kai ("The Literary Circle"); he became editor in 1935, after the arrest of its previous editor in the growing nationalist tide before World War II.
Now an emeritus professor at Columbia University, Edward Seiden-sticker is a distinguished translator of numerous Japanese literary works, from the famed eleventh-century masterpiece The Tale of Genji to modern novels by Nagai Kafu and the Nobel laureate Kawabata Yasunari.
With these criteria in mind, he mentions certain prominent writers of prose fiction from the last hundred and fifty years, including Natsume Soseki [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1867-1916), Mori Ogai [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1862-1922), Shimazaki Toson [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1872-1943), Shiga Naoya [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1883-1971), Tanizaki Jun'ichiro [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1886-1965), and Kawabata Yasunari [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1899-1972), in addition to Akutagawa.
Although both Mishima and Tanizaki were mentioned for the Nobel Prize, and although either would arguably have deserved it, it was the gentler Kawabata Yasunari who first broke through to win the award for Japan.
Japanese writer who, with Kawabata Yasunari, was one of the mainstays of the New Sensationalist school (Shinkankaku-ha) of Japanese writers, influenced by the avant-garde trends in European literature of the 1920s.