House of the Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories by Yasunari Kawabata

House of the Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories

Yasunari Kawabata
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From Japan's first Nobel laureate for literature, three superb stories exploring the interplay between erotic fantasy and reality in a loner's mind.
“He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the house warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything else of that sort.” With his promise to abide by the rules, Eguchi begins his life as a member of a secret club for elderly gentlemen
who have lost their sexual powers. At an inn several hours from Tokyo they indulge in their last pleasure: lying with beautiful young girls who are sleeping nude when the men arrive. As “House of the Sleeping Beauties” unfolds in Kawabata's subtle prose, the horrified reader comes to see that the
sexual excitement is a result not of rejuvenescence, but of a flirtation with death.
The three stories presented in this volume all center upon a lonely protagonist and his peculiar eroticism. In each, the author explores the interplay of fantasy and reality at work on a mind in solitude-in “House of the Sleeping Beauties,” the elderly Eguchi and his clandestine trips to his club;
in “One Arm,” the bizarre dialogue of a man with the arm of a young girl; in “Of Birds and Beasts,” a middle-aged man's memories of an affair with a dancer mingled with glimpses of his abnormal attachment to his pets.
All of these stories appear in English for the first time outside of Japan. “Of Birds and Beasts,” written in the early 1930's, is one of Kawabata's earlier works, while “One Arm” and “House of the Sleeping Beauties,” the latter hailed by novelist Yukio Mishima as the best of Kawabata's works, are
among his later works.

Publisher Description

From Japan's first Nobel laureate for literature, three superb stories exploring the interplay between erotic fantasy and reality in a loner's mind. “He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the house warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything else of that sort.” With his promise to abide by the rules, Eguchi begins his life as a member of a secret club for elderly gentlemen who have lost their sexual powers. At an inn several hours from Tokyo they indulge in their last pleasure: lying with beautiful young girls who are sleeping nude when the men arrive. As “House of the Sleeping Beauties” unfolds in Kawabata's subtle prose, the horrified reader comes to see that the sexual excitement is a result not of rejuvenescence, but of a flirtation with death. The three stories presented in this volume all center upon a lonely protagonist and his peculiar eroticism. In each, the author explores the interplay of fantasy and reality at work on a mind in solitude-in “House of the Sleeping Beauties,” the elderly Eguchi and his clandestine trips to his club; in “One Arm,” the bizarre dialogue of a man with the arm of a young girl; in “Of Birds and Beasts,” a middle-aged man's memories of an affair with a dancer mingled with glimpses of his abnormal attachment to his pets. All of these stories appear in English for the first time outside of Japan. “Of Birds and Beasts,” written in the early 1930's, is one of Kawabata's earlier works, while “One Arm” and “House of the Sleeping Beauties,” the latter hailed by novelist Yukio Mishima as the best of Kawabata's works, are among his later works.

Review
“A poetic meditation on the themes of sexuality and death.” -Financial Times“Revealing an astonishing honesty of vision.” -Saturday Review“One of the finest works of Kawabata's late career.” -William E. Sibley“Extraordinarily gripping.” -Irish Press

Author Biography

Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1968. His 1937 novel “Snow Country ”secured his position as one of Japan's leading authors. Alisa Freedman is a visiting assistant professor of Japanese literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Donald Richie—novelist, critic, essayist, travel writer, and former director of the Japanese cinema collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York—is author of “The Films of Akira Kurosawa. ”

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House of the Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories