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The Master of Go is not exciting. The novel opens with the news of Honinbo Shusai’s death. A Go match must start at the appointed time even when the player’s parents are on their deathbed or the player himself fell ill right over the chessboard.

Uragami who himself was an ardent fan of the Master, infers that there are two types of players: But I still end up contemplating its themes, turning them over in my head as one’s fingers would fiddle a Go stone. He was the last hereditary heir to the tile of Honinbothe dominant school of Go for the last years.

Chcker draw waves, attacks, idea. 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.

You know that Hemingway exhortation about stories being icebergs where most of the mass is under the surface?

Kawabata, an amateur as he yasunafi 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.

View all 5 comments. Diagonally placed stones are vulnerable for a territorial captive attack.

Both deal with the psychological effects of obsessing over complex boardgames, and explore a central character whose life has been consumed by such obsession. What’s interesting for Kawabata fans is that the two stories intersect in an unexpected way.

Then, in maesto context, we’d be dd 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. It comes from the author’s observations about go, about goo personalities, about how go has changed as Japan is changing.


Though the game itself occurred in inKawabata who published it serially in transforms the story to encompass Japan’s modernization, militarization and eventual loss in World War II.

It may be said that the Master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were maestor, 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.

Yasunari Kawabata’s The Master of Go is an example of the shishosetsua novel form that hinges upon the fictionalization of real events as experienced by the author. It would be easy to sum it up maeetro 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.

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.

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.

Basically, Shusai had it coming and everyone would have known this. Fl 20, Tyler Jones rated it really liked it Shelves: Therefore, I yashnari this book as a Go-illiterate outsider curious of such “a faithful chronicle-novel” p. Jan 01, Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it Shelves: Kawabata finds himself hypnotized by the match, inevitably drawn to the personal lives of the two players, betraying a clear predilection for the old master, so exhalted by his words that the reader, too, ends up caring and supporting him instead of the young champion.

He did this several times, and each time analyzed the position together with his students before resuming. From the way of Go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled. Aug 02, J.

The Master of Go

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. At a critical juncture, he played a trivial forcing move to gain time to think, and this won him the game.

Were the long recesses and the venue changes between the games, a defense from the fury of the Black stones? When do the mores of cultural heritage become greater than its sovereign nation?


El maestro de Go – Yasunari Kawabata – Google Books

Needless to say there is no violence, no upturned boards or people drawing swords. 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. It was the end of an era. My report was serialized in sixty-four installments. 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.

Lists with This Book. 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. Feb 06, Philippe Malzieu rated it it was amazing.

Dec 01, Tsung rated it liked it. Reading gets easily interrupted as we are tempted to analyse the game and understand probabilities and implications. It would be easy to say that this is a unique occurrence 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. Aug 18, Marina Vesta rated it it was ok Shelves: It’s a semi-fictional chronicle of an actual game between a revered reigning master and a rising young champion destined to unseat him.

Perhaps there might be some sociopolitical undertones to the story. 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. Die Antwort ist recht einfach: I was supposed to see or feel something in a quiet realizing of internal reverence, a sense of a better way of existence slipping away into the past.

El Maestro de Go : Yasunari Kawabata :

Black for Otake vs. This seemed strange, since he is always referred to very positively in the Japanese Go literature. I’m sorry I don’t understand the description of the dd on pagethat is, I can’t find Black and B and C On a more meta level, it also made me examine the idea of a “pure novel” that exists perfectly outside of all intertextuality.