american classics

[read online eBook] Memoirs of a GeishaAuthor Arthur Golden –

A Literary Sensation And Runaway Bestseller, This Brilliant Debut Novel Presents With Seamless Authenticity And Exquisite Lyricism The True Confessions Of One Of Japan S Most Celebrated GeishaIn Memoirs Of A Geisha, We Enter A World Where Appearances Are Paramount Where A Girl S Virginity Is Auctioned To The Highest Bidder Where Women Are Trained To Beguile The Most Powerful Men And Where Love Is Scorned As Illusion It Is A Unique And Triumphant Work Of Fiction At Once Romantic, Erotic, Suspenseful And Completely Unforgettable

10 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Geisha

  1. says:

    Memoirs of a Geisha is an American novel, and as such the attempt at West does East, especially on the complex and delicate subject of the geisha, is compelling, interesting, but also heavy handed and ultimately ineffective even so in the case of the film It is a wonderful introduction to geisha, Japanese culture, and the East for the uninitiated Western reader, and I can see why the book is popular, but I found it disappointing For the reader already familiar with the culture, western influences are all too clear and the book comes off as a bit clunky and imperfect I also had some problems with the general perception of the characters by readers versus the way the characters were actually portrayed in the book Memoirs is far from the good willed fairy tale that people assume it is By all means, read it, but leave it open for critique and remember that a authentic representation of eastern culture, especially in the details, will come from the east itself.A lot of my critique stems from the fact that this movie has attained such wide spread fame and been made into a movie, to be sure I feel like it is being perpetuated as something it is not Even the introduction to the book a faux translator s note perpetuates the myth that Memoirs is an accurate, beautiful, in depth reflection of the life of a geisha, when in truth it is no that historical fiction and is written by an outsider Golden has done his research and is well educated on his subjects, and I have no problem with people reading from, taking interest in, and even learning from this book I do, however, think it is important that readers don t conflate the American novel with Japanese reality They aren t the same thing, no matter how much research Golden did, and if we take the book as an accurate representation we re actually underestimating and undervaluing geisha, Japan, and Japanese culture.Because Golden attempts to write from within the geisha culture, as a Japanese woman, he must do than report the facts of that life he must also pretend to be a part of it Pretend he does, acting out a role as if he has studied inflection, script, and motivation He certainly knows what makes writing Japanese but his attempt to mimic it is not entirely successful The emphasis on elements, the independent sentences, the visual details are too prevalent and too obvious, as if Golden is trying to call our attention to them and thus to the Japanese style of the text He does manage to draw attention, but to me, at least, what I came away with was the sense that Golden was an American trying really hard to sound Japanese that is, the effect betrayed the attempt and the obvious attempt ruined the sincerity of the novel, for me I felt like I was being smacked over the head with beauty wood water kimono haiku and I felt insulted and disappointed.The problems that I saw in the text were certainly secondary to the purpose of the text to entertain, to introduce Western readers to Japanese culture, and to sell books and eventually a film They may not be obvious to all readers and they aren t so sever that the book isn t worth reading I just think readers need to keep in mind that what Golden writes is fiction Historical fiction, yes, but still fiction, therefore we should look for a true representation of Japanese culture within Japanese culture itself and take Memoirs with a grain of salt.I also had problems with the rushed end of the book, the belief that Sayuri is a honest, good, modest, generous person when she really acts for herself and at harm to others throughout much of the book, the perpetuation of Hatsumomo as unjustified and cruel when she has all the reason in the world, and in general the public belief that Memoirs is some sort of fairy tale when in fact it is heavy handed, biased, and takes a biased or unrelatistic view toward situations, characters, and love However, all of those complains are secondary, in my view, to the major complain above, and should be come obvious to the reader.Memoirs goes quickly, is compelling, and makes a good read, and I don t want to sound too unreasonably harsh on it However, I believe the book has a lot of faults that aren t widely acknowledged and I think we as readers need to keep them in mind This is an imperfect Western book, and while it may be a fun or good book it is not Japanese, authentic, or entirely well done.

  2. says:

    Like eating fancy dessert at a gourmet restaurant, Memoirs of a Geisha is beautiful, melts lightly off the tongue and will be forgotten shortly after it s done The language is strikingly lovely, and Golden paints a remarkable picture of a time and place If you re looking to learn something deep about the psychology of Japanese culture, or meet nuanced characters, then I d steer you elsewhere The story only skims the top of the complicated aspects of a Japan in decline, focusing mostly on a genteel lifestyle that probably seems appealing from the outside There s a way in which the book, written by a man and a westerner, is slightly fetishistic, but less so than you might imagine.Another reader suggested that perhaps the superficiality of the story is intentional, and that the book, in a way, resembles a geisha Beautiful and eager to please, yet too distant to really learn much from and ultimately little than a beautiful, well crafted object to be appreciated If that s the case, Arthur Golden is remarkably clever, and I applaud him If it s not the case, the book remains very pretty and an easy read.

  3. says:

    Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper Geisha Mineko Iwasaki basis for Chiyo Sayori.Chiyo, with her sister Satsu, and her mother and father live in a shack by the sea on the coast of Japan The shack leans, and has to be propped up to keep from total collapse Her mother is sick and on the verge of death Her father is a fisherman, uneducated, and generally befuddled by anything that doesn t have to do with his fishing nets When a businessman from the village comes to them with an offer to take their girls to the city it doesn t take much to convince the father that nearly any opportunity is better than staying there in the tilted shack by the sea He was wrong Or was he Without a crystal ball or access to a series of timelines showing the variations created by changing key decisions at critical junctures how can we know Satsu, who is fifteen, is promptly placed with a brothel Not exactly what her father had in mind I m sure he was told she would be trained for domestic service Chiyo, who is nine, is deemed young enough to be trained to be a geisha She is a lovely child with startling rare gray blue eyes Those Blue Eyes are what set her apart.The Mother of her geisha house is equally startling in appearance Instead of being white and clear, the whites of her eyes had a hideous yellow cast, and made me think at once of a toilet into which someone had just urinated They were rimmed with the raw lip of her lids, in which a cloudy moisture was pooled, and all around them the skin was sagging Obvious a bit of a failing liver issue going on here, but wait she is really much mugly I drew my eyes downward as far as her mouth, which still hung open The colors of her face were all mixed up the rims of her eyelids were red like meat, and her gums and tongue were gray And to make things horrible, each of her lower teeth seemed to be anchored in a little pool of blood at the gums Okay so Chiyo lets out a gasp She starts out her new life in trouble It doesn t end there She is quickly considered a threat to the lovely and vindictive Hatsumomo who is the only fully trained geisha working for the house Chiyo is accused of stealing not true She is accused of ruining an expensive kimono with ink true but under duress She is caught trying to escape she broke her arm in the process so try and give the kid a break Well, all of this ends up costing her two years working as a housemaid when she could have been training as a geisha She receives an unexpected benefactress, a mortal enemy of Hatsumomo named Mameha decides to take Chiyo under her wing and insure that she has another opportunity to become a geisha Chiyo, tired of scrubbing floors and being the do this and do that girl of the household realizes her best chance at some form of freedom is to elevate herself The Movie based on this book was released in 2005 and directed by Rob Marshall.At age 15 her virginity or mizuage is put up for auction It is hard not to think of this as a barbaric custom, but for a geisha, if a bidding war erupts, she can earn enough money to pay off all the debts that have accumulated for her training Chiyo, now called Sayuri, is fortunate to have two prominent men wanting to harvest her flower The winner is Dr Crab who paid a record amount for the privilege Of course his name wasn t really Dr Crab, but if you d seen him I m sure the same name would have occurred to you, because he had his shoulders hunched up and his elbows sticking out so much, he couldn t have done a better imitation of a crab if he d made a study of it He even led with one shoulder when he walked, just like a crab moving along sideways Not the vision that any girl would have for her first time, but ultimately it is a business transaction that frees Sayori from the bonds of debt After the deed is done, the eel spit in the cave, Dr Crab brought out a kit filled with bottles that would have made Dexter jealous Each bottle has a blood sample, soaked in a cotton ball or a piece of towel of every geisha he has ever treated including the blood from his couplings for their virginity He cuts a piece of blood soaked towel that was under Sayori and added it to the bottle with her name Ewwehhh with a head snapping shiver.The cultural obsession, every country seems to have one, with female virginity is simply pathological Girls can t help, but be fearful of the process Not strapped to a table by a serial killer type fear, but still there has to be that underlying hum as the man prepares to enter her I wonder if men, especially those who avidly pursue the deflowering of maidens, are getting off on that fear I ve made myself feel a little queasy now Sayori is on her way to a successful career She is in love with a man called The Chairman and wishes that he will become her danna, a patron, who can afford to keep a geisha as a mistress There are people in the way, keeping them from being together, and so even though there were many geishas who wished for her level of success she still couldn t help feeling sad And then I became aware of all the magnificent silk wrapped about my body, and had the feeling I might drown in beauty At that moment, beauty itself struck me as a kind of painful melancholy It was fascinating watching this young girl grow up in such a controlling environment and yet, a system that can also be very deadly One misstep, one bit of scandal, and many geishas found themselves ostracized by the community They could very easily find themselves in a brothel During WW2 the geisha community was disbanded, and the girls had to find work elsewhere Sayori was fortunate Despite all the hardships I know she was enduring, Arthur Golden chose not to dwell on them in great detail I was surprised by this because authors usually want and need to press home those poignant moments, so that when the character emerges from the depths of despair the reader can have a heady emotional response to triumph over tragedy I really did feel like I was sitting down for tea with Sayori, many years later, and she, as a way of entertaining me, was telling me her life story Golden interviewed a retired geisha by the name of Mineko Iwasaki who later sued him for using too much of her life story to produce this book She even had light brown eyes not as striking as Sayori s blue gray eyes, but certainly light enough to be unusual I wonder if Iwasaki was still the perfect geisha, keeping her story uplifting, and glossing over the aspects that could make her company uncomfortable Mineko IwasakiThe book is listed in the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die It was also made into a film, which I ve been avoiding, knowing that I wanted to read the book first I notice some reviewers take issue with Sayori They feel she did not assert herself, and take control of her life She does in the end, but she is patient, and waits for a moment when she can predict the outcome I feel that she did what she needed to do to survive Most of the time she enjoyed being a geisha It takes a long time to learn not only the ways to entertain, but also all the rigid traditions that must be understood to be a successful geisha As she gets older, and can clearly define the pitfalls of her actions, we see her manipulating the system in her favor If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  4. says:

    So. Memoirs of a Geisha I d been wanting to read that one for a very long time I had heard so many good things about it It s supposed to be awesome, and deep, and beautiful, right Wrong It s not The writing was what bothered me the most It s pretentious and superficial, and sloooooww and it goes on and on and on and on and on and still, very little happens In some sort of weird combination, the writing is both superficial and clich It feels like Golden thought it would be a good idea to emphasize all the Japan and nature clich s to the point of ridiculousness I still can t believe how many times he compares something to the nature Ironically, it doesn t feel natural at all It feels forced and weird and and it s very annoying, as it slows down the pacing which is already very slow and frequently interrupts the narrator s flow of thoughts Examples Yes, yes Because I was so sick and tired of reading for the 40th time how something is LIKE a bird or a snake or whatever, I made a list Enjoy, people This is how Sayuri narrates the story Please notice and enjoy how natural this way of thinking sounds I felt as a dam must feel when it s holding back an entire river I felt as sore as a rock must feel when the waterfall has pounded on it all day long My poor scalp felt the way clay must feel after the potter has scored it with a sharp stick And it goes on Like water bugs kicking along the surface Like the crisp skin of a grilled fish Like a scrap of paper in the wind Like ruts in the bark of a tree And on Like a pig trying to survive in a slaughterhouse Like a stray cat on the street without a master to feed it My mind on the eve of my debut was like a garden in which the flowers have only begun to poke their faces up through the soil It was like when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly Out of my element as a pigeon in a nest of falcons Felt as a simple smelt must feel when a silver salmon glides by Still not enough I was hoping you d say that Here you go view spoiler Like what a workman does to a field using a hoe felt the way clay must feel after the potter has scored it with a sharp stick I felt as the waves of the ocean must feel when clouds have blocked the warmth of the sun As if he were the wind that blew and I were just a cloud carried upon it Like a tree and its roots, or like a shrine and the gate that stands before it With as much difficulty as a hungry child turns away from a plate of food I felt like a slab of tuna the grocer had just delivered I was like a temple bell that resonates long after it has been struck I tried to imagine I was simply a house standing in the rain with the water washing down the front of me Like when a stone is dropped into a pond, the water continues quivering even after the stone has sunk to the bottom Like the tree where the tiger might sharpen its claws Like a fish belly up on the stream A tree may look as beautiful as ever but when you notice the insects infesting it, and the tips of the branches that are brown from disease, even the trunk seems to lose some of its magnificence As much a part of her as a song is part of a bird Was as simple as a stone falling toward the ground If you no longer have leaves, or bark, or roots, can you go on calling yourself a tree Felt toward him just as an ice pick feels toward a block of ice The two of them weren t spending time together any than a squirrel is spending time with the insects that live in the same tree Like the fisherman who hour after hour scoops out fish with his net Like a mouse expecting sympathy from the snake Like rice pouring from a torn sack Expanding just like a river whose waters have begun to swell I was like a child tiptoeing along a precipice overlooking the sea And yet somehow I hadn t imagined a great wave might come and strike me there, and wash everything away Like a snake that had spotted a mouse Your eyes hang all over him like fur on a dog I began to feel like a tree whose roots had at last broken into the rich, wet soil deep beneath the surface Just as naturally as the leaves fall from the trees Just as a stone must fall toward the earth It was all like a stream that falls over rocky cliffs before it can reach the ocean No permanent than a wave rising on the ocean Just like watery ink on paper hide spoiler

  5. says:

    93 Memoirs of A Geisha, Arthur GoldenMemoirs of a Geisha is a historical novel by American author Arthur Golden, published in 1997 The novel, told in first person perspective, tells the story of a fictional geisha working in Kyoto, Japan, before and after World War II 2003 1380 640 9646961703 20 2003 174733 409 31 22 4 1936

  6. says:

    This book was wonderful I absolutely love the movie, which I now need to watch In many ways, this was a sad story for me I would really like to read a biography of a geisha and watch a documentary to really look into their world We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course Happy Reading Mel

  7. says:

    Damn if you aren t one of the most problematic things I ve ever read, Memoirs of a Geisha.Like much of non Asian America, I was swept up in the delight of reading this book in 2000 I was fifteen and precocious, and the narrative was arresting I couldn t put the book down I wrote this in 2000 Golden has hit pay dirt with this masterpiece An insightful, curious, and caring look into the mysterious world of geisha, Arthur Golden peels away the ignorance and labeling that westerners have covered the secretive Japanese profession Although it sinks at times into a near melodramatic prose, the book s protagonist is interesting, insightful, and enjoyable Her witty anecdotes and thoughtful mannerisms in speaking make Memoirs of a Geisha a delightful and unstoppable read Then I got older, went to college and graduate school, and developed a critical, thinking eye.And I m mad at myself insightful Really God, I was naive This novel, while entertaining is so problematic I rarely have time to descend into my criticism It continues the Orientalism that Edward Said loathed so very much rather than skillfully entering the world of a Japanese woman, it apes her identity, and ultimately deprives her of a voice, creating a sort of Orientalist imagination for us to enjoy without ever really seeing her The book is still engaging as a narrative, but the sappy ending, the frankly sexist portrayals at some points, and Sayuri s outright inability to identify outside of her Chairman is rather frightening It serves to objectify fetishism at its worst Yet I can only give you three stars, because I m still partly under your spell, Golden Damn.

  8. says:

    I became fascinated with Japanese culture when I was a teenage girl and since then I have read many Japanese related books and articles and have watched many movies and animes that depict parts of Japanese culture but the fact remains that I am not Japanese, I have never been to Japan and I am a foreigner, captivated by this exotic and very different culture.As a foreigner, I see many beautiful and unique aspects to Japanese culture but I also know about certain painful historical facts such as treatment of women in certain eras of Japan My point is, I don t want to discuss accuracy of this book regarding Geisha life I am not Japanese and I am not a historian and therefore, I am not qualified to judge So I keep my opinion and impression Geisha to myself.It appears that this story is based on the life of a certain geisha, but the author clearly states that both the story and characters are fictional and I am going to stick with that.I admit that I was disappointed when I realized that this turned out to be fiction, only and only because I had been told otherwise by author himself while reading the preface I mean, what s with the contradiction I couldn t understand the pretense Why pretend this is a real story when it s a beautiful fiction What s wrong with fiction I admit, as I reached the end of the book, I came to realize why the author tried to portray this story as a real life story when writing the introduction but I will write about that later.I liked the writing style Some people may find it pretentious but I understood that this is an attempt to write as close as possible to Japanese style of writing and story telling and to seem poetic The writing also helped me to see the world through Chiyo s eyes and better understand her mind I should mention that Chiyo and Sayuri are the same person.Some people may say, parts of the story drag on and on and yet nothing important happens I quickly get bored but I couldn t put this book down once I had started reading and I had already seen the movie years ago This is not a perfect book but it is an amazing one Little Chiyo simply captivated me with her story.I wanted her to survive, to fight and to find happiness There isn t a single character in this story that I actually hate They are all different human beings with flaws of their own that struggle to survive and get by their hard lives Some choose to do so by crushing others and some choose to do so by fighting their way through and lending a helping hand when they can.I might have had a few explosions regarding treatment of women and the way chiyo s mind operates if I didn t know Japanese culture at the time of this story well enough I have Japanese friends, so I know what I am talking about it.Chiyo is quite young when she falls in love with a man much older than her, too young in my opinion to fall in love but I understood her feelings The moment she meets the love of her life, Chairman, is a turning point in her story and happens to be my most favorite part.Yes, she focuses her entire life on reaching this man As a woman, I would have liked her to have bigger goals and dreams of her own and for example, seek freedom or independence but when I think about her situation, her education and upbringing, I get her.Chiyo is a slave, being trained for the sole purpose of pleasuring men Men that mean nothing to her and are like alien beings Up to this point, not a single person has shown her any kindness without ill intentions and when she is about to lose her faith in humanity, a man appears out of nowhere and shows her true kindness Finally, a man means something to her One of these men that she is supposed to serve has a face and value to her I am not surprised she made it her life purpose to reach him I would have liked her to interact with him during the course of the story but it wasn t really necessary Chairman was the man SHE wanted and SHE desired for herself Considering her life, that was a big goal And I didn t really need to know about Chairman He was the symbol of true kindness Her dedication to reach him was moving and touched me very deeply.As I said before, during parts of this story, nothing important really happens, but I was eager to learn about Geisha life The author is obviously well informed and has done his research The story was interesting enough All characters seemed real and relatable I even liked Hatsumomo And even though I wanted Chiyo to reach the love of her life and therefore happiness than anything, I liked Nobu a lot too He was a great man but it s not like we can change our emotions or how we feel about different people and their behaviors whenever we want to I could feel Sayuri s misery and fear as she had to make decisions that would ultimately hurt people dear to her, from Pumpkin to Nobu Sayuri is simply human She too acts selfish and neglects her friends I don t blame her but I wish she had acted differently at certain times, at least regarding poor Pumpkin.I also clearly felt the touch of war and the darkness that spreads over hearts and souls at such a time The fear, pain and misery as everything changes and there is no longer any certainty to the future.I was touched by the relationship between Chairman and Nobu, even though it was only behind the scene and between the lines Once you think about it, it was a very deep and touching bond Although poor Sayuri had to suffer because of this very bond, I understood why Chairman had to act the way he did.The only part of the book that made me laugh and shake my head at the author, the AMERICAN author, was the part regarding American soldiers throwing candy at children It was mentioned abruptly and I found it very funny Two nuclear bombs and this is what Sayuri comments about Yes, I am sure American soldiers weren t as scary as they were supposed to be but they were still invaders It takes time for certain wounds to heal It s not about American soldiers It s about war, invasion and loss At the end, this is not a fairy tale I am a fan of fairy tales and I firmly believe in happy endings Ironic, since in real life, I am very realistic and even cynical But when I open a book, I want happy endings Somewhere along the way, I had started to dream of a fairy tale style happy ending for little Chiyo and reading the last pages of the book left me a little sad That s why as I mentioned above, it was after finishing the book that I understood why the author has tried to sell this story as a real one All throughout the book, the story tries to remain realistic Which is why sometimes nothing really happens and it s important to remember this, when reading the bittersweet ending, Otherwise, the ending might feel a little unsatisfactory and even rushed But the truth is, the bittersweet ending was still a happy ending, just a realistic one Still, I wasn t 100% happy with it I agree that the author could have done better just by adding 50 pages or so.In conclusion, this is the beautiful story of a little innocent girl as she fights her way through life and hardships in an unfair society and struggles to reach her loved one and have a reason to simply wake up every day and live This is not a fairy tale but it does contain certain elements of those tales therefore this book is not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it and find it very memorable and special.

  9. says:

    Well, I finally got around to this one I think I understand its fan base and its subsequent literary worth it was the Gone Girl of the 90 s Only in popularity This time, the fairy tale with Girl it seems as if we re comfortable with the cautionary tale in the 10 s has a Cinderella and many suitors after her It is absolutely immersive a page turner that has as many colors as a used up coloring book I see the geisha in that light like La Marilyn, the geisha are symbol of tragedy and misplaced youth and beauty.The plot is orchestrated in that well intentioned Great Novel tradition A Great Expectations meets Great Gatsby novelty item that s as pure as winter s snow, that shimmers attracts the senses like a ruby from some volcano deep in the Pacific Metaphors and similes are very effectively used here, their dual purpose is clear it tells the life story in a very non nebulous manner, in clear, concise, not to be misconstrued mode and the words seem authentic enough to evoke an actual geisha it is her telling you her memoirs, sitting there with you, drinking tea.Also, Hastumomo, in the role of ugly stepsister, is an adversary from hell Grrrreat character Too bad she leaves the narrative at too crucial a juncture the anticlimax meaning, then, the immediate displacement of anything that did not fit into the societal standards from the board Lame She is a worthy nemesis to our heroine as voracious for fresh meat as a Great White The feud between them two is the centerpiece of this Fanny Hill like tale, this enormously feminist text For in Gion, Japan, the geisha are treated like a lot of women have been, like objects, pawns, or even disembodied ideas.

  10. says:

    I read this a long time ago a favorite Its amazing a male wrote this book sure felt like a female speaking.