The Master of Go

The Master of Go

Book - 1996
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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, more modern challenger, Yasunari Kawabata captured the moment in which the immutable traditions of imperial Japan met the onslaught of the twentieth century.

The competition between the Master of Go and his opponent, Otaké, is waged over several months and layered in ceremony. But beneath the game's decorum lie tensions that consume not only the players themselves but their families and retainers--tensions that turn this particular contest into a duel that can only end in death. Luminous in its detail, both suspenseful and serene, The Master of Go is an elegy for an entire society, written with the poetic economy and psychological acumen that brought Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, [1996]
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed
ISBN: 9780679761068
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: viii, 187 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Seidensticker, Edward 1921-2007


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Jul 03, 2012

This story is ostensibly a ~factual chronicle of a single game of go (the retirement match of Master Honinbo Shūsai, lasting 6 months!!!) , but it feels MUCH more dramatic than a simple game summary and is quite gripping and moving. I only know/knew a little bit about the game of go, but the book has several diagrams documenting the course of the match, so I could at least kinda pretend to follow along. This novel provides wonderful insight into how important go is/was culturally to many of the people of Japan. It makes me sad that we don't have anything like that in the United States.


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