Read The Master of Go by Yasunari Kawabata Edward G. Seidensticker Online


Go is a game of strategy in which two players attempt to surround each other's black or white stones. Simple in its fundamentals, infinitely complex in its execution, Go is an essential expression of the Japanese spirit. And in his fictional chronicle of a match played between a revered and heretofore invincible Master and a younger and more modern challenger, Yasunari KawGo is a game of strategy in which two players attempt to surround each other's black or white stones. Simple in its fundamentals, infinitely complex in its execution, Go is an essential expression of the Japanese spirit. And in his fictional chronicle of a match played between a revered and heretofore invincible Master and a younger and more modern challenger, Yasunari Kawabata captured the moment in which the immutable traditions of imperial Japan met the onslaught of the twentieth century....

Title : The Master of Go
Author :
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ISBN : 9780679761068
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 189 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Master of Go Reviews

  • Manny
    2019-03-25 16:43

    Kawabata writes a factual account of a Go match, which at one level could be compared with the sort of journalism you see in a magazine like New in Chess. He presents all the moves in the game, and comments the play. Somehow he turns it into an emotionally gripping meditation on life, art, fate and the inevitable destruction of traditional Japanese society. He apparently thought this was his best book - remember that he won the Nobel Prize.It would be easy to say that this is a unique occurrence... but in fact, I think board games journalists are undervalued and Kawabata just happens to be the only one who's received any broader recognition. For example, Gena Sosonko is not as good, but it's not ridiculous either to compare him with Kawabata. In his case, he is mourning the vanished chess culture of the old Soviet Union.___________________________________Another interesting piece of Go lore I picked up from the German guy I was talking with this afternoon. Anyone who knows anything about the game can see immediately that Kawabata was a decent player. Apparently, he was rather more than just "decent" - he was strong enough that he once won a three stone handicap game against a 9 Dan professional. In chess terms, I'd say that's about equivalent to an International Master title. Impressive.___________________________________Now here's a development that's seriously confused my understanding of Kawabata's classic novel. A few days ago, Not and I watched the rather fine movie The Go Master - which, it might surprise you, isn't based on this book at all, but is a dramatization of the life of a different player, Go Seigen. What's interesting for Kawabata fans is that the two stories intersect in an unexpected way. Go Seigen, a genius who is widely believed to be the greatest Go player of the 20th century, also played a match against Honinbo Shusai, the real-life prototype for "the Master" in Kawabata's book. Go seemed to be outplaying Shusai throughout, and Shusai, in desperation, resorted to an extremely unethical strategy. As the nominally stronger player, he had the right to adjourn the game when he wished, even when it was his turn to play. He did this several times, and each time analyzed the position together with his students before resuming. In the course of one of one of these adjournments, he found an unexpected move that changed the course of the game and allowed him to snatch a narrow victory. It is widely believed that the move was actually found by Shusai's student Maeda, later a top player in his own right. Maeda never confirmed or denied the story.Five years later, Shusai played the match against Kitani that was immortalized in The Master of Go. Kitani, who was a friend of Go Seigen, naturally wanted to stop the Master from using the method that had worked so well for him in the previous match. In the face of considerable opposition, he required, and eventually obtained, a modification of the adjournment rule based on Western chess praxis. The player who wished to adjourn had to "seal their move", writing it down and putting it in a sealed envelope at the end of the playing session, so that both players would be on an even footing. As Kawabata recounts in the novel, Kitani understood the implications of the Western-style adjournment rule better than Shusai. At a critical juncture, he played a trivial forcing move to gain time to think, and this won him the game. I have read the novel three times, and I believed it was clear that Kawabata was presenting Kitani's pragmatic action as unworthy and almost despicable. This seemed strange, since he is always referred to very positively in the Japanese Go literature. But now, knowing the background, I wonder if there is an ironic level that I have been missing. Kawabata, as noted, was a strong amateur Go player. It is inconceivable that he would not have been familiar with all the details of the earlier game between Go Seigen and Shusai, where Shusai had behaved in a far more underhand way than Kitani ever did. Basically, Shusai had it coming and everyone would have known this.Is there anyone here who's read the book in the original and can comment?

  • Praj
    2019-04-07 19:46

    Two stones....two individuals. One world. The yin-yang philosophies sprouting from the wooden bowls on to a 19 x 19 arena. The small stones carrying the burden of altering destinies. In the realm of shōsetsu, Kawabata chronicles a factual reportage of a decisive championship game of Go held in 1938, between Honnimbō Shūsai and Mr. Kitano Minora. Abiding the culture of literary fiction, Kawabata confers fabricated identities to the players as well as to himself (Mr. Uragami) in this epic struggle that spans over the period of nearly six months.**(Title holder Honnimbō Shūsai's last official game , his opponent being the 7th Class Mr. Kitani)**“The game of Go is simple in its fundamentals and infinitely complex in the execution of them. It is not what might be called a game of moves, as chess and checkers.....” IntersectionThe game of Go commences with the stone being placed at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal squares. The Black stone always taking the privilege of an opening move. The devious tap of the stone on the wooden grid echoes the hysteria of a transitional era. New laws and new tactical regulation overruled the aristocratic stubbornness by refined trickery. The strategic moves alternating the white and black stones delineated the struggle of aristocracy vs. liberalism; youth vs. old age; new vs. old; and art vs. gaming pragmatism.“Shusai the Master would seem in a variety of meanings to have stood at the boundary between the old and the new.”The frail and ill Master who revered the tradition of Go as a way of life and art , painfully observed the transition of his beloved painting into the commercial entity bound by scientific regulations and competitive aggressiveness. An inhabitant of the Meiji Era, the Master finds himself standing on the edge of modernity that challenges traditional mores and progress in a strange world with cries for equality. Mr. Uragami, in his reportage addresses the Japanese landscape that is suspended between the resistance of the old cultural mores and the democratic post- war revolution. The Master who was accustomed to conservative prerogatives struggled to rationalize the tactical moves of his young adversary Mr. Otake. The unorthodox Black-69 move struck like a spray of black ink spoiling the rhythm of the Master’s harmonic artistic play. Uragami wonders if the “invincible” Master was now as feeble as the scrawny legs that marred the authoritative illusion. Were the long recesses and the venue changes between the games, a defense from the fury of the Black stones? The Black stones were insensitive to the pleas of an aged clamshell stone. The exhaustion of insomnia that ravaged the serenity during the four day long recesses was now curious about the loneliness that sprang from the nostalgia of a waning art. The frail Master with all his might hung on to the last threads of his invincibility. “In that figure walking absently from the game there was the still sadness of another world. The Master seemed like a relic left behind by Meiji”On the bridge of transition was the battle of the Master to restore the vitality of the very game that made him bleed, justified? Is the birth of nostalgia, the loneliness of change more agonizing than physical death? Mr. Uragami poses a baffling question whether the metaphoric notion of “sealed in cans” would make our lives happier without our territories being invaded or are we equipped to forfeit our conquered territories to smell the fresh winds of change?TerritoryGo is fierce; it is a territorial game. Territory called “ji” in Japanese is formed by a continuous line bounding the adversarial stones in a captured territory.“Had Go, like the Nō drama and the tea ceremony, sunk deeper and deeper into the recesses of a strange Japanese tradition?"Go becomes the medium through which various boundaries are pitted against a strategic battle of sustainability and perishability. Otake’s robust and patiently timed moves paves a path to a modern strategic system that abides the essence of time and laws challenging the Master and capturing territories by abstract conditions of Justice. Mr. Uragami take this territorial battle further into the lives of the players and the existence of Go as a traditional art and as a embedded culture of a nation. The Game of Go that has its origins in China about 4ooo years ago is now an inhabitant of the Japanese culture. It has been explored and improvised by the Japanese societal mores for more than 12oo years to be an important artistic heritage of the Japanese cultural territory. The threat of this game being captured by foreign territories becomes conspicuous when Mr. Uragami expresses his skepticism over whether a foreigner (Dr.Dueball’s Germany- the game had attracted players from America) would do justice to the game of Go as he will be unaware of the history of the game and would treat it is a sheer game and not art that had become a way of life to many Japanese Go players. Does the mystery and the nobility of a game is diminished if played away from the land of its origin? Is a sovereign heritage greater than the art of the game? These similar worries was expressed by the Master when in a bid to reclaim his genius over the game, he witnessed Otake’s severe game brimming with scientific precision and slyness. The striking of the stones was echoing the violence of a tragic chasm of a competitive world that had bestowed the title of “invincibility” to the Master crafting a grand super-powerful figure. The Master became a citizen of a hallucinatory world where he achieved a winning immortality; a world where he believed he could not afford to lose. The mentioning of the fact that the Master had not played the Black stones for more than 30 years; inferences can be drawn of a possibility of the White stones being the honored territory of a Master. Is then this illusionary territory that brings tragic consequence when the sanguine vagueness is marred by the loneliness of reality? When does the player become larger than the game? When do the mores of cultural heritage become greater than its sovereign nation? When does the move ‘Black-69’ strike like the flash of a dagger piercing into the safeguarded territory of the player capturing his stone wall?Contiguity of StonesThe continuity of the stones is established by placing them in row in a horizontal and vertical manner. Diagonally placed stones are vulnerable for a territorial captive attack.A lonely stone is unfavourable to the playing contestant.“Don’t you suppose he was lonely?”……. “Yes. But he (the Master) was always lonely.”Did the loneliness, the thought of him being the probable last surviving ‘Master of Go’ from the Meiji era made the Master vulnerable to Otake’s stubborn ambition? Like an isolated stone that becomes less powerful, did the seclusion of his artistic prowess in the modern world made him defenseless?Mr. Uragami contradicts the play of contiguity by illustrating a breakage brought by modernity in the world of Go and its players. In the play of black upon white and white upon black, the threat of forfeiture prevailed right from the personal feelings of the players to the fate of the game in the altered Japanese landscape. In the emerging new age and fresh vitality of Go would the frequent threat of forfeiture interrupt the contiguity of history and traditions leading to the collapse of the stone’s sanguineness? Life and death of the stoneA stone has a life and can be killed when entirely surrounded by the adversarial stone. In the war like game the stones and the players amalgamate into one whole existence. The notion of “sealed in tin cans” depicted during the play keeps the player from external disturbance. The game and its strategies follow the players until the game is over and even thereafter, as in the case of the Master. For a Go player each free moment is a risk management session increasing the pressures of time and the deliberation over the future moves brings certain quirks and nervous addictions. The sanity of life is found in the madness of Go.“He is not just a genius. He is inhuman”Unlike Mr. Otake, the Master was bled by the game of Go. The shadows of Go followed the Master hovering into the vagueness of his existence. As a true artist sculpting the Go art, the Master resisted from judging the persona of the opponent as it perverted the sanctity of the game. The Master calculated his every move even when he played a game of chess, billiards and mahjong. When the Master played his moves and the game consumed his life, at times making him lose the realization of his own identity. The stones had sealed his destiny as a ‘Go Master’ in a can of loneliness and the shrewd game has made him a sort of a martyr. Mr. Uragami who himself was an ardent fan of the Master, infers that there are two types of players: - one who are complacent with their game output and the other who meticulously enhance their art; the word satisfaction being a rarity in their game. The Master belonged to the latter. The Master had become a tragic figure, a ghostlike existence. Novelist Naoki Sanjugo who wrote himself to death asserts,- “If one chooses to look upon Go as valueless , then absolutely valueless it is ; and if one chooses to look upon it as a thing of value , the a thing of absolute value it is."So where does a player stop from not letting the game consume him? Is the art of the game that creates martyrs of its soldiers? The pleasure of the game brings seclusion from worldly exhilarations of life. The unadulterated sleep of a child is far fetched blessing in the cursed insomniac world ridden by chaotic configurations. When does the harmonic monochromatic ballet of Go become a war of spirit and destiny? Is then life greater than a man or is the man greater than the life? The long coarse white –hair on the Master’s eyebrow; the symbol of life’s longevity knew the answer and so did White-130.Under the morbid tides of destiny the death of a stone. The game ends. Hope ends..... A new stone is astutely placed on an intersection. Once again, the game of Go begins , deciding a new destiny for its Master.

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-04-16 18:53

    How Kawabata combines a journalistic narrative voice with such a rich literary tradition baffles me more than the intricate game of Go and it's complex representation of the structural game in society the novel is supposed to explore, and what a beautiful structure Kawabata takes us through, peeling such thin layers of meaning with each inflection and each crafty Go move between the classic master and the iconoclast challenger.

  • notgettingenough
    2019-03-29 20:44

    With no such intention in mind, I rather fell out of the frying pan on this one. I had to get away from Yourcenar and a glance at the shelves made me think nothing could be further from Hadrian than a book about Go.My very first Go move, and it’s a mistake. Continue here: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

  • Yann
    2019-04-06 23:51

    Un bon roman dédié au jeu de Go, l'un des plus complexes en dépit de règles relativement simples. Cette édition présente des diagrammes de l'évolution de la partie. L'accent est mis sur le duel, inspiré par des évènements réels, entre un vieux maître et un jeune outsider. La partie s'étale pendant fort longtemps, avec des interruptions de plusieurs semaines. Au delà de l'affrontement, une des interprétation avancée dans la préface est qu'au travers de cette histoire, l'auteur a voulu figurer la mutation progressive entre un japon nourri de valeurs aristocratiques issues du passé féodal, faites d'excellence, d'honneur, de sacrifice, vers des valeurs démocratiques plus pragmatiques, faites de calcul, d'efficacité et qui ne s'embarrassent pas de toute la fastidieuse étiquette de l'ancienne éthique. Une évolution que l'auteur déplorerait nostalgiquement. Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

  • David
    2019-03-24 23:47

    How does a book about a go game win the Nobel Prize for Literature? (Actually, the book itself didn't win the prize - Kawabata the author did, but this book is widely regarded as his best, and probably the one that sealed the Nobel for him.) You have to read this book to understand what it's really like. It's a semi-fictional chronicle of an actual game between a revered reigning master and a rising young champion destined to unseat him. Yes, I just spoiled the ending, but it's pretty much given away in the beginning, and the "plot" of this novel is not about who wins the game. It is based on an actual game and actual figures in the go world, as Yasunari Kawabata, a go reporter, wrote about it in serialized form in 1938.Go is often described as a metaphor for life, God, the soul of Japan, a game with infinitely-layered meanings as complex as the universe itself. I have dallied with go myself and love the game, though I'm a piss-poor player and not even close to being good enough to appreciate deep strategy at the level necessary to read a player's personality and innermost feelings from a single move. Kawabata, an amateur as he repeatedly reminds us, but still pretty good by amateur standards and familiar enough with the game to report on it for Japanese newspapers, describes not just the game between the Master and his challenger, Otake, but how it reflects the arc of their personalities and the Master's past and Otake's future. The game takes place over a period of six months, with elaborate formal rules, frequently renegotiated (the negotiations being one source of conflict and stress), concerning how many days break will take place between each day of play, and how many hours will be spent playing. This is not a game like you or I would play sitting down at a table for an afternoon. These two men sit down at the board and spend anywhere from 40 minutes to 3 hours contemplating their next move, and might play five stones between them in an afternoon, then retire for a few days (or in some cases, because of health issues, weeks).So, from whence comes the drama and conflict in this slow, thoughtful game? Needless to say there is no violence, no upturned boards or people drawing swords. (This was 1938, not 1638.) It comes from the author's observations about go, about the personalities, about how go has changed as Japan is changing. There is much description of rooms and landscapes and trees and weather, minute and delicate details which I've noticed to be a common feature in Japanese novels. There is also a great deal of profiling of the two men. At one point, we learn that the Master is angry - infuriated, even. But he doesn't show this by raising his voice or even changing his expression. It's expressed when, back in his room, he politely shakes his head over his opponent's play and discusses forfeiting. He's indignant when he believes that his opponent used a tactic of sorts (to call it a "trick" would be too strong) to gain time during a recess between sessions to think about his next move.It's almost impossible to explain why this is a source of indignation if you don't know anything about go, and even if you do, it's still a little opaque to an amateur Westerner like me. Reading this book, you are getting a deep, nuanced view of very traditional Japanese mindsets at a time of great change, when the country and the world was moving beneath them. This one game is like a pond showing the ripples. And keeping in mind that not being Japanese, not being a master go player, and reading a translation, you're really seeing third-hand ripples reflected through a fuzzy lens. And yet you can still follow Kawabata's thoughts and see the contrast between the Master and his opponent.I wish, as I wished when I read Hikaru no Go, that I was good enough to look at a single move and appreciate its sublime brilliance, or how it casts a shadow over the board, or why go professionals can study and discuss one move and its many long-reaching implications and how it indicates that the player is aggressive, weak, uncertain, reckless, subtle, devious, or resolved, etc.The Master of Go is not exciting. You have to ease your mind into it. It's like staring at a painting by a master; you know you're looking at something brilliant but the degree to which you can apprehend the brilliance may be somewhat limited. Yet though the "story" is merely an account of a go game (and the formal social manuevering surrounding it), there is a slow building of tension to a climax no less satisfying for your knowing how it ends. It's a very literary novel and if you don't like Japanese literature, you probably won't like this book. However, while an appreciation for go will enhance your enjoyment of it, you don't need to know the game to read this book. They could as easily be playing some other game — think of it as Vulcan checkers — and you'd still get the same sensory impressions and characterizations from play even not having a clue about the rules. (The book does include diagrams of the game as it progresses, though — go students still study this game as one of the classics.)It's a quintessentially Japanese book, but I found the translation quite accessible. I know that both go mastery and Japanese fluency would make it infinitely more accessible, though.

  • umberto
    2019-03-28 23:47

    3.5 starsI've just read an interesting article in The Japan Times entitled "An exploration of the great game at the heart of 'the Master of Go' by Tyler Rothmar, informing his readers that the battle took place nearly six months and the victor finalized exactly 78 years ago today (December 4, 2016). If you'd like to read the JT article, please visit this web page: []Reading this novel by Kawabata is, I think, a bit different from reading his other three, namely, "Snow Country", "Thousand Cranes", and "The Sound of the Mountain". One of the reasons is that it primarily focuses on the ultimate Go competition between the Master (Shusai) and the challenger (Otake) of the Seventh Rank from June 26, 1938 in Tokyo to December 4 in Ito (p. 4). The match was amazingly tactical, highly professional and horribly fierce to the extent that, due to his age, health and frailty, he finally gave in for Black 237, the last play by his opponent. (p. 6, diagram p. 177)I've known vaguely about this famous Japanese Go since years ago with admiration because, as far as I know, those playing well deserve respects for their wisdom in planning that includes tactics in his defending as well as attacking. However, I'm not a Go player and I wonder which needs higher skills between playing Go or chess, and again, what kind of chess. Then, in this context, we'd be content with the country, that is, Japan since, I think, it's not fair or sensible to compare between a master of Japanese Go and a master of, say, Thai chess.Therefore, I read this book as a Go-illiterate outsider curious of such "a faithful chronicle-novel" (p. v) and found his writing style surprising due to its 41 chapters of various length. Moreover, this chronicle depicts an unthinkable Go competition in its presumably national scale as waged by fate dictating the two Go warriors who use the Go board as their battlefield till 2.42 p.m. on December 4, 1938. (p. 6) So we merely read their fighting moves, for each having different time intervals as controled by the judges, the youth keeping the records and witnessed by the functionaries. Moreover, there're two sets of small numbered stones: Black 1, Black 3, Black, 3 ... Black 237 for Otake vs. White 2, White 4, White 6 ... White 236 for the Master. We can see how they start the decisive match on the chess-like Go board denoted by lines 1-19 (row) and letters A-T (across). There, Otake's started at R-16 while the Master's followed at R-4 (p. 36).I came across a remark stating that "the first player has seven chances in ten of winning" (p. 57). I think this is a good remark from Go experts that need pondering and applying from both the challenger and the master. It's quite fair to allow more luck/chance for an opponent while a master with his charismatic, godlike stature should be satisfied due to his sublime Go skills. Indeed, I think if the Master could play Go and happily lost, like Sakine, Master of Chess, he could have enjoyed living longer.This is not a romantic novel like the other three mentioned above, instead it's a novel-like story of such spine-chilling Go competitions. I'm sorry I don't understand the description of the diagram on page 177, that is, I can't find Black 201 and 203 (B-13 and C-13). Therefore, I'd appreciate my GR friends' information/explanation on the matter.Finally, from Chapter 40, I'm a bit disappointed due to its lack of action/words from the great victor Otake, so I guess he may have spoken humbly, if need be, in honour of the Master. Certainly, the Master rightly deserves our respects for his graceful, heroic final mission. One more thing we need to take care, any serious match can be fatal, taking the middle way or being resilient should be the key to our success/satisfaction in our daily lives. Comparatively, Otake is the opponent the Master can see and plan to play the game, however, it's better if we'd rather have a few challenging us in the open for the face-to-face battle so that we know who they are and keep this in mind too.

  • Yuki
    2019-04-12 15:36

    EDIT: I wonder, would a pun(?) like 明治ん - 名人 be acceptable...?A masterpiece, perhaps? - all of Kawabata's sentiments crammed into one book rather than an observation of a Go match. Though Kawabata's ideals doesn't strike me as those which are sensible, for some reason this book touches me more deeply than I've ever expected.After reading this, I thought as if for a moment, I could understand the reasons behind his suicide. Another one-sitting read; 4 stars, +1 personal star.

  • Tyler Jones
    2019-04-14 19:58

    One sign of a master writer is the ability to match subject and style. I can think of no better example of this than The Master of Go, by Kawabata. The careful elegance of Kawabata's writing slowly, almost imperceptibly, creates layers and patterns of meaning in a very similar way to how a game of go might develop. To the untutored eye, the first stones placed on the board seem to fall at random, but the master already sees the battle to come and these first stones plant the seeds of the war. So too the reader is lulled by the almost meditative pace of the narrative, which develops as slowly as the game does. Kawabata builds tension not by advancing the action, but by restraining it, so while the reader may not learn the actual rules of the game, they will understand the spirit of the game perfectly.The novel is also an excellent example of the Japanese form of shosetsu - a kind of chronicle novel that does not sacrifice art to be factual. While the western literary tradition is somewhat obsessed with defining the line between fiction and non-fiction, Japanese literature seems to have long evolved past this either/or distinction. One can only hope we in the west adopt a similar tradition to shosetsu - it would certain save people like James Frey a good deal of trouble.The Master of Go is a beautiful and sad novel. Sad because it portrays people who are completely immersed in their art, and this level of dedication to art seems to be less and less common. Perhaps for the very reason it is uncommon, this portrayal of the uncompromisingly dedicated life is very important.

  • Pablo
    2019-03-31 18:04

    Un último juego que representa más que el enfrentamiento entre lo nuevo y lo viejo, sino que dos generaciones que por sucesos históricos tienen paradigmas de la vida contradictorios. La dicotomía de los grandes autores japoneses del siglo XX quizás tiene a este libro como su producto más representativo.

  • J.M. Hushour
    2019-04-03 23:34

    Kawabata is my most recent literary obsession, I'm just gonna read everything he ever wrote and I haven't gotten very far. "Scarlet Gang" was experimental and awesome, "Snow County" and "Thousand Cranes" and the"Palm-of-Hand Stories" sparse, gently, and apocalyptic (in a love sense), and "The Master of Go" is really not like the others at all. Kawabata fictionalizes an actual final game of Go he covered as a journalist, a last contest between one of its most famed players, terminally ill and failing, and a younger, distraught player of some skill.It leans towards a more abstruse and symbolist structure and hue than his other earlier novels, is, in Japan, considered his best, and was considered by Kawabata himself his only "complete" novel. It doesn't quite lack the quiet devastation of the works mentioned above, it takes a different approach, framing the story through the nuances of the game itself, while chronicling the slow, inevitable death of a master.

  • Laurent
    2019-04-15 15:50

    Spannend relaas van een legendarische go-wedstrijd, waarbij de grootmeester wegens ziekte het onderspit delft en het prototypische jong talent zijn smerigste trukendoos opentrekt. Kawabata ritmeert perfect, bouwt de spanning op en graaft diep in de spelerszielen, dit alles in zijn typische ingetogen stijl. Met tekeningen van het verloop van de langdurige kamp, voor wie die wil naspelen. Onthaasting voor amateurs van bordspelen en japanofielen. Heerlijk. PS: zijn er go-spelers op Goodreads? Wil het spel graag terug opnemen en tegenwoordig zijn er heel wat online platformen. Just a shot in the dark.

  • Kristel
    2019-03-25 19:01

    This novel about the last game of a dying Go master was a gift to me by friends. They knew of my longstanding interest in Go and gave me this novel for my birthday. I've previously read a couple of Yasunari Kawabata's short stories in anthologies but I've always felt his writing to be at least one shade more oblique than is comfortable. This book, which is apparently more straightforward than a lot of his other novels, is quite difficult to parse as an emotional work. But I still end up contemplating its themes, turning them over in my head as one's fingers would fiddle a Go stone.Yasunari Kawabata's The Master of Go is an example of the shishosetsu, a novel form that hinges upon the fictionalization of real events as experienced by the author. In this particular novel, the author is the newspaper correspondent covering the retirement game of the highly influential Go master Honinbo Shusai and the innovative younger player Otake (a thinly veiled fictionalization of eventual Go legend Minoru Kitani). Kawabata uses the actual game record in his storytelling, a recreation of which you can access here.The novel opens with the news of Honinbo Shusai's death. He was the last hereditary heir to the tile of Honinbo, the dominant school of Go for the last 300 years. Shusai did not a name a successor--instead, he bequeathed the name Honinbo to the Japan Go Association. In many ways, Shusai's death was the end of Go as the genteel preoccupation of the shogun class, a break from the the imperial past. Interspersed with the story of his wake and the people traveling to pay their respects are scenes from the actual game, spanning six grueling months and several cities.His competitor Otake has as much of his reputation on the line, if not more. He is one half of the two pillars of a new movement within the game called Shin Fuseki. I recognize the inherent nerdiness of calling board game moves "revolutionary," but believe me when I say that Shin Fuseki changed so much of game theory that it's now very difficult to apply the opening of games from the last century to current gameplay. Ask me in the comments and I'll try to elaborate in the wonkiest way I can.You know that Hemingway exhortation about stories being icebergs where most of the mass is under the surface? Well, the Master of Go is basically an iceberg the size of a continent and the only visible part is one square yard of unadorned reportage. The novel works most overtly as an elegy, a mourning of the past by sensitive and artistic souls who are uncertain of a highly industrialized present. Though the game itself occurred in in 1938, Kawabata (who published it serially in 1951) transforms the story to encompass Japan's modernization, militarization and eventual loss in World War II. A significant percentage of his narrative is consumed by Shusai's ambivalence with the new, rigorous rules of Go, ostensible improvements that for him renders the game dehumanized.Another, more subtle motif in the story is the idea of the game as a pure form, untouched by the outside world. One scene features a visibly angered Otake threatening to forfeit because the length of the game has forced him to be away from his family and school for extended periods, sometimes due to the caprice of the older Honinbo. His fatigue ends up showing in his performance. Another crucial plot point involves the use of the rules to get more thinking time in between sessions. On a more meta level, it also made me examine the idea of a "pure novel" that exists perfectly outside of all intertextuality. Because I found a lot of the themes opaque as I was reading the book, a lot of my subsequent pleasure comes mostly outside of it, from reading about historical context and studying commentary on the actual game. My opinion has also been colored by the knowledge that Shusai himself had been a highly divisive figure throughout his life, a discovery that tempers the idea of him as a figure of bodhisattvan temperance, enduring one last painful game to glorify posterity. My experience with Kawabata is a circuitous road. As a teenager, I was very fascinated with the author Yukio Mishima, who wrote existentialist and dramatic set pieces that had made him one of the foremost Japanese modernists. In a Mishima biography written by John Nathan, he relates Mishima's admiration and respect for the older Kawabata, a sensei/kouhai relationship that struck many as ironic given the vast difference of their personalities. Mishima was bold and iconoclastic, while Kawabata was serene and seemingly removed from time. There was one particularly poignant anecdote about Mishima's conflicted feelings when Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968--Mishima (who actually nominated Kawabata to the Swedish academy) knew that the Nobel wouldn't be awarded to a Japanese author again within his lifetime. Two years later, Mishima would commit suicide through seppuku after participating in an attempted rightist coup.My years have also tempered my fascination for these two writers, who seemed so preoccupied with the beauty in death and the mourning of a bygone era. For Kawabata in particular, the past is another country, and he is the perpetual exile.

  • Philipp
    2019-04-10 16:03

    There was something unreal about the pictures, which may have come from the face, the ultimate in tragedy, of a man so disciplined in an art that he had lost the better part of reality.Just like Kokoro or the majority of Yukio Mishima's work, Master Of Go belongs to that corner of Japanese culture in favor of the "old" (Meiji-era) and against the "new" (Western influence, loss of values etc.). It may be said that the Master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were everything, from which all the grace and elegance of Go as art had disappeared, which quite dispensed with respect for elders and attached no importance to mutual respect as human beings. From the way of Go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled. Everything had become science and regulation.It's about the retirement match of the Go master/Honinbō Shūsai with Kitani Minoru (in the book called Otake), you can go through the steps of the match here. Kawabata wrote newspaper columns about the 6-months spanning match which he reworked into this book. A little bit of knowledge of the game may be required reading but the rules are relatively simple and fast to pick up.The match began in Tokyo on June 26, 1938, at the Kōyōkan Restaurant in Shiba Park, and ended on December 4, in Itō, at the Dankōen Inn. A single game took almost half a year. There were fourteen sessions. My report was serialized in sixty-four installments.You can ignore any Go-specific terms in the book, it's not really about the game anyway - it's about Japan and its supposed uniqueness: China's Go isn't "real Go", that supposedly developed in Japan - other foreigners have no clue of Go, "the spirit of Go" is missing, etc., and if you can stand that, go for it.

  • Philippe Malzieu
    2019-03-26 17:34

    The good books about the game are rare. I know only four one, "The chess player" Zweig, "Loujine defense" Nabokov, "Little chess player "Ogawa and this one. He is exceptionnal. The Go is a very special game. By the time, territory is occupied. It's a brain représentation. Chcker draw waves, attacks, idea. I think that go is the reflect of himself. Two player : old master personnify eternal old Japan and young master who is the future. The story came fron a real party after second world war.It does not matter to know which gained, the challenge is not there. With the end of the old Master, it is a certain idea of Japan which disappears.In complement of this reading, I advise you a Swiss film of Richard Dembo, "La diagonale du fou" Oscar of best foreign film in 1985.

  • دار لوتس للنشر الحر
    2019-04-09 20:47

    هذه واحدة من أجمل وأصدق ما كتب الروائي الياباني الكبير الحائز على جائزة نوبل ياسوناري كاواباتا، وفيها يعرض لمباراة في لعبة الغو حضرها بنفسه. ولعبة الغو أو الجو هي لعبة تلعب على لوحة عبارة عن بتسعة عشر سطرا قائما وتسعة عشر سطرا تقطعها في زوايا قائمة. ويتبادل لاعبان وضع صخرات من لونين على مقاطع السطور وفي لوحة عادية هناك 361 منها. ويتنافس اللاعبان في الإحاطة بأكبر قطر تحددها صخرات من لون واحد، ومع أن قواعد اللعبة بسيطة، إلا أنها تتطلب الإستراتيجية الباطنة ومن الممكن أن يقضي شخص عمره في دراستها بدون الوصول إلى فهمها الكامل. تحميل الكتاب مجاناً.

  • Kathrin
    2019-03-22 23:51

    "Meijin" hat mich auf so vielen Ebenen überrascht, dass ich mich ein wenig ärgere, dass ich es nicht schon eher gelesen habe. Aber vielleicht war jetzt einfach die richtige Zeit für das Buch. Im Mittelpunkt der Erzählung steht die letzte Partie des Go-Meister Honinbo Shusai. Dieser tritt, sterbenskrank, gegen den aufstrebenden Otake an. Die Partie ersteckte sich insgesamt über sechs Monate und gibt nicht nur Einblick in die sich wandelnde Welt des Go - sondern wirft auch einen Blick auf den Wandel der japanischen Gesellschaft. Eine Frage, die ich mir gleich am Anfang gestellt habe - wie viel muss man von Go verstehen, um das Buch so richtig genießen zu können. Die Antwort ist recht einfach: Ein Verständnis für das Spiel ermöglicht einen anderen Zugang zur Erzählung und den Charakteren. Sollte aber nicht so viel Wissen vorher vorhanden sein, hilft der sehr lehrreiche Anhang aber weiter. Meiner Meinung nach ist man also auch ohne große Vorkenntnisse gut aufgehoben. Die Partie ist außerdem im Anhang bebildert nachgestellt, sodass es noch einfacher war die doch recht komplizierten Spielzüge nachzuvollziehen. Ein Aspekt, der für mich eher im Vordergrund stand, ist die sich wandelnde japanische Gesellschaft. Zum einem wird der Wandel symbolisch durch die Go-Partie dargestellt, zum anderen geben Nebenschauplätze einen Einblick wie sehr sich die Gesellschaft wandelt. Ich habe selber einige Zeit in Japan gelebt und habe bisher eher wenig Bücher gelesen, die sich damit auseinandergesetzt haben. Die Melancholie und der Umbruch werden hier ganz deutlich und ich finde dies ein ganz faszinierendes Thema der japanischen Literatur.Die Übersetzung ist sehr gut gelungen. Die japanische Sprache hat so ihre Eigenheiten, die es schwierig macht wirklich Wort für Wort zu übersetzen. Und ganz oft geht dabei die der Sprache eigene Melodie verloren. In diesem Buch fühlte ich mich damit sehr gut aufgehoben. Schlussendlich ist "Meijin" ein faszinierendes Zeugnis einer vergangenen Zeit und vielleicht auch Spielkultur. Ich kann es Go-Enthusiasten nur ans Herz legen. Und Fans der japanischen Geschichte und Kultur finden hier die Möglichkeit einen Blick auf Japan zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts zu werfen.Mir wurde eine kostenlose Ausgabe seitens des Verlages gegen eine ehrliche Meinung zur Verfügung gestellt.

  • Irfan Ali
    2019-04-15 22:36

    Its just a game; get over it! Apparently not when the game is Go and the Master of the game, a figure revered by the author as if a prophet (the episode about the single strand of hair on the Master's eyebrow treads on the hilarious, though), is playing his last fateful game against an upstart Otake. The author uses the backdrop of this single game to depict the lifestyle of a passing era in Japan. An era when a game was more than atheistically calculated 150 odd moves on a 19-by-19 matrix board. An era when a single game would last more than 6 months with close to 50 hours of combined play with a single move taking more than three hours and the game bearing so heavy on the players minds that they would suffer serious health problems to the extent of being hospitalized. When sublime qualities like elegance and composure at play and harmony of the moves were given more importance than the mere counting of points. Perhaps it captures not only the passage of time for a game like go, but of other sports such as cricket (and a friend who plays golf also could relate this to his game), where in past one would spend days watching a batsman at the crease for multitude of hours, nay days, and remark on his style and elegance of line his shoulders made as he brought the bat in line with his pads to snub a good-length ball, as opposed to the counting of runs he made to defeat the opposing team. This story of a single game of Go played in 1938 captures the change of tradition form an old ailing mast to a young brilliant player. A letting go, not a straight forward one, when a young player sticks to his guns to ensure that the Master is not able to get away with abuse of his power, prestige and guile, but instead unsettles the Master and defeat him but canny use of the new rules. The progress of the game is depicted by several figures spread over the novel, but the book is so much more than the game - a careful and nuanced depiction of character of the two key players, depiction their private lifes and their families, the procedure of mild and careful intervention by officials to nudge the game along without unruffling the egos of either of the players, and so much more. Rather than rushing to acquire the game of Go, I am inclined to acquire further works by this great Japanese author and loose myself for a few hours in the imaginary world painted by him.

  • Loredana M.
    2019-03-31 21:49

    Până să mă apuc efectiv de lecturarea romanului, „Maestrul de go” de Yasunari Kawabata mă apăsa ca o povară, mă intimida şi îmi crea o stare de disconfort datorată nu subiectului cărţii, ci mai degrabă temerii că nu voi reuşi s-o apreciez la adevărata sa valoare. Acum, însă, pot vedea de ce însuşi Kawabata şi-a declarat acest roman ca fiind cel mai bun roman al său. Este dureros de frumos.Fiind primul scriitor japonez laureat al premiului Nobel pentru literatură în 1968, Yasunari Kawabata este mai degrabă cunoscut cititorilor occidentali datorită romanelor „Ţara zăpezilor” (Humanitas, 2007), „Frumuseţe şi întristare” (Humanitas Fiction, 2013) sau „O mie de cocori” (Humanitas, 2000). Întrucât, printr-un rezumat simplist, în „Maestrul de go” chiar este vorba despre jocul de go, un joc specific japonez, mult mai complicat decât şahul şi cumva nepotrivit cu spiritul occidental (după cum declară şi Kawabata prin intermediul personajului Uragami, ziaristul amator de go care relatează întreaga desfăşurare a partidei pentru publicul larg:„E poate hazardat să iau ca exemplu un american începător, dar se poate spune că, în general, apusenii nu au destul kiai. În Japonia, goul e mai mult decât un simplu joc, un divertisment, a devenit o Cale şi o Artă.”)se pare că acest roman nu s-a bucurat de o recunoaştere atât de mare pe plan internaţional precum cele amintite mai sus. În mod paradoxal, pentru mine, o necunoscătoare în tainele goului, „Maestrul de go” mi s-a părut o carte accesibilă, deosebit de frumoasă, care poate fi citită pe două niveluri: cel de bază, în care accentul cade pe relaţiile interumane, pe tema bătrâneţii şi a morţii şi pe înlocuirea vechiului cu noul, şi un nivel superior, accesibil cu precădere jucătorilor profesionişti de go, întrucât Kawabata relatează una după alta mutările decisive de pe goban ale celor doi oponenţi.CITESTE CONTINUAREA AICI -->>

  • Andrés
    2019-04-14 21:48

    Well, I still don't know if the problem is Kawabata's writing or Seidensticker's translating, but I have a feeling it's the latter. This is the second Seidensticker translation I've read ("Snow Country" was the first), and the lack of flow is very noticeable. There's no rhythm or melody to his writing, so you feel you are walking along an incredibly uneven path that makes unexpected turns all the time. This reinforces my belief that translators must not only be adept in both languages, but must be good writers themselves for them to properly translate someone else's writing.The examination of past and future, which supposedly was at the centre of this book, never really got off the ground. You just learn that the Master was arbitrary and Otake was... what? Indecisive? Too emotional? Too rule-bound? It's never made clear what exactly makes Otake representative of Japan's future, just that he has certain personal qualities that clash with the Master's personal qualities. In fact, this is the problem with the book: rather than small observations accumulating into an overall picture, all you get are small observation strewn across a Go board without much strategy or purpose.

  • Bbrown
    2019-04-07 23:56

    I read this and Stefan Zweig's Chess Story back-to-back, and was very happy that I did. Both deal with the psychological effects of obsessing over complex boardgames, and explore a central character whose life has been consumed by such obsession. Despite the fact that Chess Story takes a fictional approach, while Kawabata's book is based on an actual person, there were many parallels between the two works, and each highlighted aspects of the other that otherwise I might have missed. While both books on their own are probably only worth three stars, the resonance created by reading them one after the other magnified my enjoyment so much that I'm giving both four stars.

  • Rise
    2019-04-21 00:03

    "A sad, elegant piece of reportage" was how the translator Edward G. Seidensticker described The Master of Go in the introduction. It was about an actual 1938 match that Kawabata Yasunari reported in the newspapers. The novelist reworked his narrative during the war and it was finally published as a book ten years after, in 1954. It was obvious from his treatment of the particular game of Go that the story was not merely a straightforward narrative of a battle between two diametrically opposite positions. It was also a meditation on the art of fiction and on cultural tradition, and, less obvious, a glimpse into the psyche of a nation at war.As with the tea ceremony in Thousand Cranes and the weaving of obi in The Old Capital, the game of Go was here portrayed as "a way of life and art". And like the other two novels, this "chronicle-novel" was suffused with respect for cultural products and artifacts. The Go board and stones were evoked with particular care. The dedication of the players to the craft was but a reflection of the perfectionist builders of Go board. I don't remember when it was, but I once saw a Go board of lacquer. It wasn't just lacquer-coated, it was dry lacquer to the core. A lacquer man in Aomori made it for his own amusement. He took twenty-five years to do it, he said. I imagine it would take that long, waiting for the lacquer to dry and then putting on a new coat. The bowls and boxes were solid lacquer too. It would not be a spoiler to mention that this was a portrait of the magnanimous defeat of the Master at the hands of his challenger Otaké. The elegiac tone of the narrative seemed to extol the passage of an era and old traditions – represented by the Master – and to herald the entry of new, fresh blood who would take over the reins of the new era – represented by Otaké. The rivalry between tradition and modernity was a constant in Japanese literary novelists. The old inevitably paving the way for the new was there in the works of Sōseki, Akutagawa, Tanizaki, and Mishima. Kawabata's version of this conflict was through his characteristic elegant elegy for the "dying" art of the game and the traditional culture and values associated with it.It may be said that the Master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were everything, from which all the grace and elegance of Go as art had disappeared, which quite dispensed with respect for elders and attached no importance to mutual respect as human beings. From the way of Go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled. Everything had become science and regulation. The road to advancement in rank, which controlled the life of a player, had become a meticulous point system. One conducted the battle only to win, and there was no margin for remembering the dignity and the fragrance of Go as an art. The modern way was to insist upon doing battle under conditions of abstract justice, even when challenging the Master himself. ... Perhaps what had happened was natural, Go being a contest and a show of strength.The novel described the extreme discipline and dedication of the two players to their craft. Several times, Kawabata referred to the game as "art" or to the Master as an "artist". The game, which was fought in several sessions at specified intervals and which lasted for half a year, was almost elevated to a life and death situation. The players, especially the Master, were constantly plagued by health problems and psychological stress.Although based on facts, the novelist's presentation of the story often courted the apocryphal. The account of the events felt more like an annotation of a written piece, with some details added in to embellish the story. There were details that were deliberately falsified either because Kawabata wanted to distance himself from his story or because he was trying to achieve a dramatic effect. (The translator's introduction and detailed notes at the end of the novel were particularly useful in determining which parts of the narrative are factually incorrect. Here the translator also played the role of fact-checker.) In any case, it was refreshing to see the novelistic side of Kawabata prevailing over journalism, how he treated reality as bendable, how he practiced creative nonfiction wherein objective reality was falsified, misused, and betrayed imaginatively. – "Since I was reporting on a match sponsored by a newspaper, I had to arouse interest. A certain amount of embroidering was necessary."Being largely a "mental" game where a single move of a stone was inscrutable, where the meaning of that move was never fully revealed but only hinted at, Go was a perfect representation of Kawabata's literary medium. In the mysterious exchange of moves in Go lay his art of the novel – the art of uncertainty and vagueness.It would seem that the mistake [in the game] resulted from more than an outburst of the anger the Master had felt all morning. Yet one cannot be sure. The Master himself could not have measured the tides of destiny within him, or the mischief from those passing wraiths.Kawabata often interjected a lot of things from the gestures and comportment of the two players. But in every case, he was almost reduced to conjectures and assumptions, to make an uncertain ("one cannot be sure") interpretation of the proceedings of the game. He often acknowledged this uncertainty; he always put "perhaps" in his commentary on the game. "Vagueness" was Kawabata's fictional aesthetic."It seems strange that I've come as far as I have. I'm not much of a thinker, and I don't have what you might call beliefs. People talk about my responsibility to the game, but that hasn't been enough to bring me this far. And they can call it physical strength if they like—but that really isn't it either." He spoke slowly, his head slightly bowed. "Maybe I have no nerves. A vague, absent sort—maybe the vagueness has been good for me. The word means two different things in Tokyo and Osaka, you know. In Tokyo it means stupidity, but in Osaka they talk about vagueness in a painting and in a game of Go. That sort of thing." The Master seemed to savor the word as he spoke, and I savored it as I listened.In this piece of nonfiction, Kawabata was surprisingly not a mystical observer of inexpressible actions but a mediator of an exciting game. However vague and humble he could be, he was truly invested in the game, watching it with a sense of immediacy and profound interest. Continued here:

  • Jeffrey
    2019-03-24 19:39

    Pre-war Japanese culture was very different from pre-war Western culture and almost unimaginable to Americans today. That any game could last 6 months, with 40 hours allotted to each player and the stress so great that even younger players strain to maintain concentration is also unimaginable to us. The formality of rules and agreements along the way, added to the the usual Japanese obsession with hierarchy, rules of respect and engagement become even more complicated when any concession can give the opponent a slight advantage. And a slight advantage is all that is needed to win.While the undefeated master makes the move that sets his fateful match on its inevitable course at White 160, it is in Chapter 28 that the author makes his move. On a train ride home he is in a "pensive" mood considering the state of the ongoing match when a "tall foreigner" approaches him at the luggage rack and correctly identifies his odd looking box as a portable magnetic Go board. The foreigner is an American, and he is "fascinated" with the game. He asks the author to play a game with him, and they proceed to play for at least the next four hours, the passengers eventually lining up to watch.What stuns and bothers the author, who is a writer covering the master's last match for Japanese newspapers, is that the American loses repeatedly, "effortlessly," and without concern. The American is "utterly foreign" in his play of the game. And the play of the game is also foreign even to most Japanese, yet they follow the match in a serialized report in the daily newspaper, 64 columns over 6 months. I have no idea how to play the game, but I enjoyed the struggle to understand the various moves as they were explained and diagrammed along the way. The game itself was just a vehicle for the Kawabata to help us understand the people, the culture of Go and in a way, the culture of pre-war Japan. That was a culture the world will never see again. Here is a peek into it.

  • Jesse Casman
    2019-04-09 21:55

    This is a good Kawabata novel and an easy read. The taste of early Showa Japan is great with details on resorts and temples around Tokyo, train schedules, newspaper reporting, and more. The plot is clear which is not the case with some of Kawabata's other more famous novels. I found the larger commentary -- around Japan moving forward toward modernity and leaving traditions behind -- to be more interesting than the specifics of the core drama of the book, the final Go game and climactic challenge for the Master. I've played some Go, so I have some concept of the game. But I still found myself getting lost in the fairly extensive details around the moves.The chance encounter with an American on a train and Kawabata's commentary (through his narrator's voice) on Japanese and Chinese seriousness and commitment to winning caught my attention. It gives insight into Kawabata's views on East versus West. Kawabata wrote The Master of Go during and after WWII, and I believe the comments can be seen as the quiet confidence of the defeated and a commitment to compete against the West.

  • Estep Nagy
    2019-04-19 15:37

    The serenity of this book is something I admire intensely. The writing feels very late-style, a master entirely confident in his own instincts and capabilities and content to start from x and just see where he ends up. Everywhere he ends up, one need hardly say, is good. This book is also a reminder that great novels can be about ANYTHING, and that the eternal strength of the novel form is its elasticity. Translated into practical terms, I think that means we should never belabor the beginning of a novel, but just plunge ahead in the full realization that, early on, even bad ideas are valuable.

  • Costanza Kuke
    2019-04-05 17:03

    La temática no me apasionaba ni un poco. carezco del más mínimo interés por juegos tales como el go. sin embargo me lo recomendaron con tanto énfasis que le di una chance. y tenían razón. Kawabata ha demostrado poder hacerme interesar hasta en fisicoquimica si quiere, con esa magistral forma de narrar

  • ريحاب
    2019-04-07 20:58

    هي ليست مجرد لعبة، بل هي لعبة حياة أو موت.أعجبني الوصف المتميز في هذه الرواية بغض النظر اني لم استوعب الرواية حتي الصفحة 30 ولكن بعد ذلك بدأت أعتاد على اسلوب الكاتب او الترجمة لست متأكدة وشعرت بالملل كثيرًا لعدم وجود أحداث شيقة .. سأقرأ له مجددًا لتحديد مدى أعجابي بالكاتب. 2.5/5

  • Kirsty Potter
    2019-04-13 00:04

    A book that could so easily have been mind-numbingly dull in the wrong hands, but is written with such ease and simplistic beauty by Kawabata.

  • T for Tongue-tied
    2019-04-06 21:59

    I guess it would be easy for a reader of the Western world to say that Kawabata's book is not much more than a slightly fictionalised record of a game that lasted 6 months and was split into several sessions, where two adversaries played and the country silently observed until the Master of Go finally lost and his much younger opponent took the laurel, which, by the way, we are told straight at the onset. It would be easy to sum it up this way but completely unfair to the style and cultural subtleties of the book, to the lingering spirit of Japanese traditions, ceremonial etiquette and values of the past, desperately trying to keep dignity in today's competitive world where new sets of rules bring new tactics and push aside traditionally perceived respect and honour. What throughout the centuries existed as a masterpiece of a game, based on tenacity, control and the ancient rules of strict decorum, now oscillates and tilts towards widely accepted insensitivity to the feelings and esteem of adversaries. It's amazing how this slowly progressing psychological failure goes hand in hand with that of a purely physiological nature - we observe it in degrading biological processes that accompany the players during the long hours of the game and instinctively sense it in the delicate changes of facial expressions, prolonged recoveries and general frailty of both body and mind.The subtleties of the book take it to the level where it may be difficult - despite a fairly simple general plot - to accept it as easily accessible. The pages are filled with black and white stones, drawings of the board showing the progress of the game and extensive pondering on the next move. Reading gets easily interrupted as we are tempted to analyse the game and understand probabilities and implications. The book brings you to a halt and your breathing slows down when you realise how many hours individual moves take; you get drawn into the stilled atmosphere of the game, accentuated by the serenity of the outside gardens and late summer rains, so beautifully intersecting the main narrative. The fears and doubts of the players become your own and through the hermetic world of Go blurs a crooked image of the contemporary, competitive reality where people push themselves beyond the limits in order to make an invincible stand.This book is hard to recommend, there is just not enough action, not enough dramatics for the distracted Western mind to immediately like it. I really value this spareness though, there is a subtle symbolism in the writer's style that takes the sensitive reader way beyond the factual core of the novel if he/she opens up to it. Kawabata's writing can be seen either in terms of Japanese aesthetics or Western existentialism and as such should have something to offer to all of us.

  • Biondy
    2019-04-16 23:02

    "The Master of Go" bercerita tentang seorang Master di bidang igo yang memainkan game terakhirnya melawan seorang penantang muda yang merupakan produk dari zaman baru.Honinbo Shusai (sang "Master of Go") berhadapan dengan Kitani Minoru (dalam cerita nama Kitani dirubah menjadi Otake) dalam 1 babak terakhir sebelum sang Master pensiun. Dalam pertandingan kali ini, Otake meminta penggunaan peraturan baru yang mengharuskan pemain menyegel langkah terakhir sebelum maju ke babak selanjutnya. Hal ini merupakan perubahan dari peraturan lama yang memungkinkan sang Master untuk menghentikan permainan dan mempelajari langkahnya terlebih dahulu. Permintaan Otake ini menjadi titik awal dari era lama vs. era baru yang menjadi inti cerita dari novel ini.Yasunari Kawabata membawa kita dalam pertandingan nyata pada tahun 1938 dengan mencampurkan elemen fiksi di dalamnya. Membuat novel ini menjadi sebuah novel semi-fiksional yang menarik. Kita bisa melihat bagaimana perjuangan sang Master melawan penyakit dan usia renta serta pertarungan rumit melawan si penantang mudanya. Sementara si penantang sendiri berusaha untuk melawan rasa tegang serta frustasinya menghadapi otoritas dan tradisi era lama.Satu hal utama yang saya suka dari novel ini adalah penggambaran yang digunakan Yasunari Kawabata untuk menggambarkan kondisi lingkungan atau karakternya.Misalkan tentang kondisi alam saat pertarungan berlangsung:"The squall soon passed. A mist trailed over the mountain, and the sky brightened from the direction of Odawara, down the river. The sun struck the rise beyond the valley, locusts shrille, the glass doors at the veranda were opened again. Four black puppies were sporting on the lawn as Otake played black 73. Once more the sky was lightly clouded over." (halaman 87)atau tentang pemain:"His hands on his knees, the Master gazed at the opening komoku. Under the gaudy camera lights his mouth was so tightly closed that his lips protruded, and the rest of us seemed to left his world.""...and always, when he sat before the go board, he seemed to exud a quite fragrance that cooled and cleaned the air around him."(halaman 35).Kekurangan untuk buku ini ada di faktor terjemahan istilahnya. Misalnya beberapa istilah igo yang membuat saya bingung, seperti "dead end" atau "swim". Berhubung saya lebih terbiasa menggunakan istilah Jepangnya, membaca terjemahan Inggrisnya membuat saya bingung.Secara keseluruhan, buku ini menarik untuk dibaca baik oleh orang yang mengerti cara bermain igo, maupun yang tidak. Deskripsi yang digunakan sangat baik dan Yasunari Kawabata berhasil menggambarkan intensitas suatu pertandingan penting yang merupakan titik awal moderenisasi dunia igo.