June 12, 2014

Yasunari Kawabata

“Time passed. But time flows in many streams. Like a river, an inner stream of time will flow rapidly at some places and sluggishly at others, or perhaps even stand hopelessly stagnant. Cosmic time is the same for everyone, but human time differs with each person. Time flows in the same way for all human beings; every human being flows through time in a different way.”

― Yasunari Kawabata, Beauty and Sadness
via Vintage Anchor Books

Couldn't find an ebook of this title at my local library, so I checked out Snow Country instead. The introduction says many consider it to be Kawabata's masterpiece, and contains this observation—

Kawabata has been put, I think rightly, in a literary line that can be traced back to the seventeenth-century haiku masters. Haiku are tiny seventeen-syllable poems that seek to convey a sudden awareness of beauty by a mating of opposite or incongruous terms. Thus the classical haiku characteristically fuses motion and stillness....The haiku manner presents a great challenge to the novelist. The manner is notable for its terseness and austerity, so that his novel must be rather like a series of brief flashes in a void.

That ought to be helpful when the copy of Basho's Journey to the Interior that I've ordered arrives.