Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: Week One
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Tämä viestiketju on "uinuva" —viimeisin viesti on vanhempi kuin 90 päivää. Ryhmä "virkoaa", kun lähetät vastauksen.
Please be careful of spoilers and keep your comments in the correct week.
Also keep in mind, this is just a suggested reading plan. If you are a slower reader, take your time, this is not a race. I just want everyone to have a nice time. Enjoy!
Not that I don't like the historical fiction part, since it fits in a period that I enjoy reading about and a place where I've never read historical fiction before, it's just not what I was expecting. Also, I keep having this disconnect when they're talking about Dutch vs Japanese, but all the words are in English! Like on page 69 when Jacob says "a noble aspiration" and Aibagawa asks "what is noble respiration?" and things like that.
I wonder if the word play is on purpose? That happened in Cloud Atlas, and it was part of the clues to the story. I also wonder if the idea that communicating is hard no matter what language it is in, is part of the story?
I started this book before and started losing track of the characters. Maybe others will also find it helpful
Can I change my mind about reading this book?
That's what I was wondering, but of course it's far too early in the book for me to be able to tell. And I haven't read Cloud Atlas yet, but was aware of some of what he did in it (and I do want to read it, sometime this year - would've read it this month, except for the fact that we're doing this book as a group read instead :P)
A question: the mercury that Jacob has brought to Dejima is meant for curing syphilis, correct? I know it's meant for an STD, but couldn't quite remember which one it is. Syphilis seems like the right choice, but I'm not positive.
I will be dipping into the book today, for a quick preview.
I am both reading and listening to the book. When listening, I notice a sense of humor in the translation parts that I didn't pick up when reading. Maybe it's the actor doing the reading that pulls it out...or maybe I was trying to hard to follow when reading and missing the nuance.
I didn't think of airport security but I did think of suspicion between countries when I read that passage, as in all this latest ruckus between the U. S. and Pakistan. But the security checks do find a modern day analogy with what goes on at airports. That is an interesting thought.
I think the character list may be very helpful - i have been going back and forth a bit to keep track, although they are starting to "gel" as individuals with particular personalities now.
I really didn't know what to expect. I've never read David Mitchell before. So far, I'm finding this to be both a bit of a brain-stretcher and an enjoyable trip.
I hadn't thought of Guppy....but he does remind me of a Dickens character.
The scene in Chapter 6 with Jacob meeting Miss Abigawa in Dr. Marinus' surgery reminds me of Shakespeare's humor. So much dialogue and word play...it's almost like watching it on the stage.
I love the blossoming relationship between Jacob and Aibagawa. can't get enough of that.
Lynda- "In my dreams I'm a reading machine." LOL! Don't we all?
At first I couldn't decide if Jacob was a prude about the cheating going on with the Dutch East India company and its employees or if he is just trying to ingratiate himself with his superiors. Both of these would cause him problems with his fellows, adn I kept thinking of the teacher's pet. Then I decided that I was misreading him and that he has integrity. I made the same mistake that Dr. Marinus made. Marinus is one of the more interesting characters in this book.
I also thought it was interesting that in this time period the Japanese know themselves to be medically backward and that Marinus' skill is greatly desired. Nowadays we tend to think that the Eastern medicine might be equal to western medicine in many ways. Clearly, according to Mitchell, that was not the case in 1800.
"...a hunchback dwarf stands silhouetted in the white glare of Bony Alley."
"Night insects trill, tick, bore, ring, drill, prick, saw, sting..."
There are so many gems here...almost a smorgasbord of words!
This is the first thing by Mitchell that I've read; if the rest of this book is as good as the first 100 pages, I will be trying at least one of his others.
What is that thing Mitchell does? (I apologize for not knowing the literary terms for what I'm about to talk about.) That thing where you have a "stack" of one or two line paragraphs (?) and they come at you in a rush -- like a waterfall or a rain shower and they're so evocative and amazing -- wordplay and dialogue and details to fondle and sounds and descriptions -- all of a piece yet all separate and distinct. What is that? Does it have a name? And does the author do this in his other books, too?
Someone asked if you had to get to know all those characters. The first time I read this I was so entranced by Jacob and Ogawa and Orito and Marinus that I sort of gave short shrift to many of the other, seemingly lesser characters -- but it's like that old theater adage: no small parts. Mitchell creates such an intrricate, intimate world and if you want the full experience you really do have to pay attention to all the parts. Notice and fondle.
I am a day late getting underway -- life, that troublesome old thing -- intervenes. I probably won't be able to keep up the pace, but I will trail along behind, panting and happy, as Nabokov says. He also reminds us that a good reader is a rereader, so that inspires me, too. But I will be keeping up with what the group is posting -- I am so interested in reading what everyone else has to say.
I'm still not settled with the medical training....and they are called seminarians in the book, which today has a religious connotation. And yet from the outset of the book, the Japanese clearly do not want to be polluted by western religion. In the very first chapter (p. 4), Orito says "My father ....." two times. I'm not clear if she is referring to her biological father or if she is referring to Marinus, her teacher, as one would refer to a priest in Catholicism.
Can anyone enlighten me.....am I onto a subplot or chasing a wild hare?
#43 Morphidae -- Wish I could afford it. Mitchell's book and me and room service -- sounds like heaven.
Okay, enough of that.
I'll be on a plane later today for several hours and expect to spend most of the time engrossed in this book. Almost as heavenly as the room.
I'm really enjoying this book. Mitchell forces the reader to pay attention and I admire that, plus how can you miss out on all these juicy plums?
I loved both, the "Karnoffel" card game and the billiards showdown and like Ellen mentioned, how Mitchell inter-weaves the conversations into the games is priceless.
I appreciate all the excellent comments and please fondle away!
BTW, I'm assuming we're trying to avoid spoilers. It feels like we're being pretty respectful of others who may not be as far along in the novel ~~ commenting on what we're reading without giving anything substantive away. I like that.
I'm also enjoying reading others' comments, and thinking about what I might comment upon. It is actually giving a little more depth to my reading. How cool is that.
#46 - the plane ride was fine. I got less reading done than I had hoped but that's just because I got sleepy. No obnoxious neighborly conversations that I couldn't block out. ;-)
Well, that is good!
I'm a bit confused by that too. Does anyone have an answer? I'm in book two - great reading! :)
p. 244 "The belly craves food.......the tongue craves water, the heart craves love, and the mind craves stories."
And then the completely different kind of story with Marinus removing the kidney stone. Thank heavens for modern lithotripsy!!!
26 (tanglewood): So much dialogue and word play...it's almost like watching it on the stage. Yes, this is my impression also. The present tense does it too. I feel somewhat as if I'm reading a play.
I was somehow completely unsurprised about Vorstenborsch and Jacob's statuses at the end of Part One. I don't know if it's the Forces of Literary Narrative or whatever it is that Pratchett calls it in the Witches books, or if it was just the inevitable according to cynical views, but all I could think was "I knew it!" I'm also looking forward to the POV change, which will maybe have a different way of looking at the world. I love it when authors manage to present different worldviews in the same book through differing povs, and it sounds like Mitchell has done that plenty. :)
I also started Book 2, with the shift in focus and finished Chapter 13. I'm curious where this entrancing story is heading.
I'll post Week 2 tomorrow, for all you speedsters.
Jacob finds himself as little able to evade the man's gaze as a book can, of its own volition, evade the scrutiny of a reader.
The cogs and levers of time swell and buckle in the heat.
All I can say is it keeps getting better and better.
I'll be finishing up the 1st part today and start the 2nd part on Tuesday. That's the plan anyway. And yes, I'm loving it.
"Uzaemon orders himself to say nothing."
is perfect for the moment. That's it. The whole paragraph. And it utterly captures Uzaemon's internal struggle and the political context in which he is living and working. Stunning.
I too was a bit confused by the "my father" references since she is clearly not talking about her biological father. I think it must be a term of respect for Marinus since he so completely took her under his wing. He didn't treat her any differently than he did his male seminarians and she loved and respected him for that. I also think that there was a mutual respect between the teacher and the student because on more than one occasion Marinus tells Jacob that Orito has more talent than any of the other students. Marinus also clearly understands that there are some insurmountable cultural divides in both directions and regrets that she will not be able to overcome them.
Actually I believe Orito is referring to her natural father, Dr. Aibagawa. In the first sentence: "My father told me..." Dr. Aibagawa would have known that Dr. Uragami was assigned to the case and had deserted the poor woman, and would likely have shared that information with his beloved daughter, the midwife.
And when Orito says "my father and I are both deeply honoured by your trust," it would have been improper for Orito to say "I am honored for your trust" to a foreign man. Plus Dr. Maeno would most likely have asked Orito's father if she could assist in the birth, hence "my father and I".
The Scottish doctor referred to by Dr. Maeno would be Dr. William Smellie, author of the anatomy book they are using.
I think it is confusing because of all the doctors, both present and not. Personally I did not see any religious overtones in this part. Seminarians can also imply those who attend seminars, just as the young men and one woman who attend Dr. Marinus's seminars.
My impressions anyways!
I think the author actually gives the reader a clue as to how to approach the number of characters. On p. 23 of my copy (chapter 3), Van Cleef is introducing Jacob around and says "Don't fret if you forget these names: once the Shenandoah departs, we'll have a tedious eternity in which to learn all about one another." And I think that does happen. As Jacob passes his days on Dejima, we hear little stories and vignettes about each character until they do start to sort themselves out, at least in my mind.
Also...thanks for pulling that clue from p. 23. (message 64)
I have really loved the scenes in the shrine. It's so weird that I'm drawn to it and want to read more. It's super annoying that things keep cropping up to distract me from reading or not let me have time - for example, the wildfires in Florida and Georgia have been creating such awful smoke that I've had too much of a headache to read.
One of the things that really draws me to the shrine are the deformities of the various sisters, especially Hotaru and Asagao's, because of the way theirs affects the language, and clearly language is a huge aspect of the novel. I can't remember where it was now, but there was one scene where they were talking that really stood out to me for the language thing.
Also, the "gift" thing is really bizarre. I hope we discover Enomoto's purpose eventually, because there are too many crazy theories suggesting themselves to me.
>74 labfs39:: I've not read the Atwood book, but I know of a couple of others with similar plot devices.
What did you all think about how the book hung together? Did you find the shifts in p.o.v. and the scene shifts disturbing to reading or did you think they were handled pretty smoothly?
I really liked the book over all. Even though it seemed that I had to sort of fight my way into it--I don't think that was the fault of the book.
And of course I fell in love with Jacob. Amazing man.