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Beautiful Town

Stories and Essays by Sato Haruo

Haruo Sato

Publication Year: 1996

Sato Haruo has been called one of the most representative writers of the Taisho era (1912-1926), a transitional period following Japan's monumental push toward modernization. Although he never identified himself as a modernist, Sato exhibited what some writers have identified as a characteristic of modernism: a complex net of contradictory impulses that embrace both the revolutionary and the conservative, revealing both an optimistic looking to the future and a pessimistic nostalgia for the past. Six stories of amazing diversity and two critical essays revealing the understated Japanese ideals of beauty make up this volume, all translated into English for the first time. Forming a sequel to the three stories published in Sato's The Sick Rose, these stories exhibit an extraordinary variety of themes and styles, ranging from poetic fairy tales to psychological portraits to who-done-it crime stories. The title story is a utopian dream of a better city, populated by ideal people, that vanishes in a mirage. Another tale portrays the loneliness of a man unsuccessful with women. A third embellishes a bare Basho haiku about the man next door. Here too are the dream ballad of a Chinese prince, the imaginary world of a mad Japanese artist in Paris, and the probing search for an opium-drugged murderer. Sato's critical essays that conclude this volume have their themes in an exploration of the sad beauty of impermanence, the nature of enlightenment, the awareness of self, the merging of the instant and the eternal, and the "self-indulgent, unrestrained beauty" of the Japanese language. This collection not only affords insights into the complexity of the work of a gifted writer, but also significantly broadens the perspective of the literary world of the Taisho period.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Translator’s Preface

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pp. vii

This book is a sequel to my earlier translations of Satò Haruo published as The Sick Rose by the University of Hawai‘i Press in 1993. Readers with an interest in Satò are referred to it. ...

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pp. 1-28

Satò Haruo has been called one of the two most representative writers of the Taishò period (1912–1926)1—for some a painful and for others an exhilarating transition between the age of Meiji (1868–1912), when Japan began the project of modernizing itself after the model of...

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Beautiful Town

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pp. 31-63

My close friend O spoke to me one day about the painter E. . . . Mr. O had recently had an opportunity to meet this good friend, and E had inquired about me. (I wonder if O hadn’t been speaking about me with too much interest.) E had borrowed from O’s bookshelves a book of...

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The Fingerprint

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pp. 64-105

N1 was my only close friend from childhood. At twenty he went abroad to observe more widely the arts that he loved. I well remember his interesting letters sent to me now and then over several years from Paris, Florence, and London. (They are among the most masterly writings I...

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F * O * U

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pp. 106-133

He stood up, glanced again at the beautiful play of sun and shadow on the row of great round columns and the broad steps of La Madeleine and the flower market next to it, then stepped out of the Restaurant LaRue. There in front he saw it, the splendid all-chrome automobile parked...

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The Star

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pp. 134-165

The wealthy Chen family of Yingnei town near Chuanchou city had three sons.1 For generations the Chens had been a family of wealth and honor. The oldest brother succeeded early, recently having become a circuit commissioner for the Kwangtung-Kwangsi...

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Unbearably Forlorn

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pp. 166-201

Seikichi’s younger brother’s wife, Kuniko—his wife until recently, that is—had qualified as a geisha.
Yurika was her professional name. ...

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A Window Opens

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pp. 202-210

On an alley some twenty-five or thirty feet back in from the streetcar line there is a block of seven or eight houses like a bunch of birdcages. My house is closest to the front of the block. A tiny rented house in the middle of town like that gives no reason to expect a garden. ...


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pp. 211

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A Discourse on “Elegance”

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pp. 213-243

It is a difficult subject. Undeniably I am no scholar. To open my mouth rashly like a scholar is most unnatural for me. Well, how should I speak? As who or as what kind of person? I don’t know. But as I was born into this life a talkative thinker, I am most comfortable when I am...

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The Joy of the Artist and Other Critical Selections

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pp. 244-269

What is the joy of the artist?
To begin with, the joy of the artist is not the making of good art. Nor the glorification of the art he creates. It lies not in being understood by the critic or in being read with pleasure by the reader. All these are less than secondary for the true artist. ...

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About the Translator

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pp. 271

Francis B. Tenny, the first executive director of the Japan–United States Friendship Commission, has served as counselor at the American Embassy in Tokyo and as State Department director of cultural affairs for East Asia during the Nixon years. The third generation of his family to reside...

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861582
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824817046

Publication Year: 1996

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Subject Headings

  • Satō, Haruo, 1892-1964 -- Translations into English.
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