The Sound of the Mountain

The Sound of the MountainThe Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This has the feel of an Ozu film, not just in the plot concerning a grandfather’s (somewhat unseemly) attachment to his daughter-in-law, which contrasts to his disappointment with his own children, but also the way these domestic concerns are paralleled by frequent digressions on the natural world – how things bloom, reproduce and die.

An interest in the freedoms of young women is also prevalent – one character has a divorce, another an abortion, another decides to have a child out of wedlock. These events hurt and confuse the old-fashioned patriarch, who is bound up in a marriage to a woman he doesn’t particularly like because he was in love with her sister.

Unlike Ozu’s films (which had to get past the censors), the war lurks more ominously in the background. Its crimes still affect the young people in the story – the son refers darkly to the unknown children he may have fathered in foreign lands, as well as the men he may have killed with his machine gun. The most liberated of the female characters grieves for a lover she lost in the war. The main character does his best to look after this traumatised younger generation, even if he can’t always understand them. And in his increasing lapses in memory and intimations of death, Kawabata may be signalling the passing of an older and more innocent way of life.

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment