Memoirs of a Geisha is Arthur Golden’s debut novel, written exquisitely with great detail.

Memoirs of a Geisha is Arthur Golden’s debut novel, written exquisitely with great detail.

Memoirs of a Geisha is Arthur Golden’s debut novel, written exquisitely with great detail. It was initially written as a novel that would depict the son borne of a geisha and a Japanese businessman, but once he had learned the true nature of a geisha, he changed his topic. Golden discovered the intrigue of the geisha – the attributes that draw in the geisha’s customers, that make them an irreplaceable part of Japanese history, that make them human as well as the ideal of what a woman should be. When these features were displayed through Sayuri’s voice, the novel became an emotionally enrapturing story, which drew in the reader and captivated the heart. I, personally, was affected deeply by this novel. I have always been drawn in by Japanese culture, even as a child. When I learned of the geisha for the first time, I thought I even wanted to be one someday. While reading this novel, any fantasies I may have had of what a geisha was were completely reshaped. This novel convinced me that the geisha truly were artists – they were trained and hired as musicians, dancers, conversationalists, jokesters, and “drinking buddies”, so to speak. The geisha incorporate both the demure and the vulgar aspects of the human spirit, and created instead a playful and desirable companion for the stressed and lonely businessmen. When I learned of the “mizuage,” the supposed Japanese term for the occasion upon which a young geisha’s virginity is auctioned off to the highest bidder, I was absolutely shocked. Here was a culture that had prided itself for hundreds of years on being one of the most civilized, and yet — according to this author — it permitted young girls to first be sold into the as-depicted near-slavery of the geisha trade, and then to have their virginity sold. I learned to see these events from Sayuri’s point of view. She saw life as being like a stream, with events that are beyond our control, but in which we can paddle a…


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