Yasunari Kawabata, Snow Country
Kawabata, Yasunari. Snow Country (Yukiguni, 雪国). Trans. Edward G. Seidensticker. New York: Knopf, 1956 (1947).
How long does a novel need to be? Kawabata’s 1947 text runs a little under 200 pages in Seidensticker’s fine translation, and combines a classical compression with a lifelike meandering. In the middle I started to wonder if it was getting too meandering, like them French movies I don’t like, but the last fifteen pages elevate it all. At any rate, Kawabata went back at the end of his life and rewrote the novel in eight pages, taking out most of the incident (including the end) and leaving little beside clusters of imagesfor lack of a better description, and because Seidensticker himself suggests the connection, I will call them haiku-like, meaning that their emotional content is allusive in a particular shorthand that I’m unused to reading. From my stock of Western models I would want to call this an ascetic practice, but I don’t think that gets the flavor right.