Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Memoirs of a Geisha" - Fiction or Not? That is the Question...

I loved the book. It was a love story and I love love stories. The thing that struck me most is not the romantic side of it because there wasn't much romance at all. It was the how closely it brushed with reality. It's based during the depression and WWII. The descriptions that the author used is amazing. The characters trials and tribulations seem so real and so disturbing at times.

The life of a geisha during that period is glamorous, yet tragic. It's very glamorous in the way they are dressed and look, but the things they are forced to do and that are part of their job is mind boggling to me. In my reviews of the books I read, I will never give away the story or the ending of a book. It's just a brief review of what I thought and how it impacted me.

What struck me most is how female-centric the geisha world is. Almost all heads of geisha life from owners of the oyika and owners of the teahouses are all female. Even the females in the book dominate the men in their forms of manipulation. It's hard to believe for me, a westerner, that in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s that females were in so much control of a certain empire. In America at that time women were still very subordinate to men. Not to say that the idea of a geisha isn't subordinate to men, because it is, but the deciding factors in the entire book was by a female. The men have the money but the females make the decisions. In America around that time women were still viewed in who they marry. In geisha Japan, it seemed that the women were independent not needing marriage to define them.

The reason I titled my review as "Fiction or Not? That is the Question..." is because the book is written by Arthur Golden but at the beginning of the book it explains how a translator named Jacob has translated the entire story from the main character herself, Nitta Sayuri. I thought the only reason it was considered fiction was because the main character while telling her story had changed the names of some of the characters to conceal their identity. In the Translator's Note at the beginning of the book, it even says how she (Nitta Sayuri) wanted to wait to publish the book. She wanted to wait until most of the people she refers to in the book to be deceased. She also requested that she be deceased before it was published as well.

Because this "Translator's Note" seemed so real in the way it was written, I believed throughout the entire time I was reading the novel that Nitta Sayuri was a real person. Not until I reached the page after the final page of the text, was I surpirsed to see in the acknowledgement section that the character Nitta Sayuri and her life were completely fictional. I was shocked because the way the book was set up I truly believed that she and her life were the real deal.

Besides that I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone. I can't wait to see the movie to put faces to the names in the book. I usually hate when movies are made from books because they never really encompass the great work of literature that the book was, but I still would like to view it. I'll leave a review on the movie as soon as I view it.

1 comment:

  1. JE SOUHAITERAI SAVOIR S'IL EST POSSIBLE D'INTEGRER UNE ECOLE DE GEISHA, ET QUELLES SONT LES CONDITIONS ET COMBIEN CELA COUTE T-IL?

    UNE ECOLE QUI SE SITUE EN FRANCE DE PREFERENCE!

    MERCI DE ME REPONDRE A L'ADRESSE EMAIL SUIVANTE:
    c.schweyer@greenpro.fr

    ReplyDelete