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The Face of Another – tekijä: Kobo Abe
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The Face of Another (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1964; vuoden 2003 painos)

– tekijä: Kobo Abe

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut / Maininnat
6061128,862 (3.64)1 / 30
The narrator is a scientist hideously deformed in a laboratory accident - a man who has lost his face and, with it, connection to other people. Even his wife is now repulsed by him. His only entry back into the world is to create a mask so perfect as to be undetectable. But soon he finds that such mask is more than a disguise- it is an alternate self - a self that is capable of anything. A remorseless meditation on nature, identity, and the social contract, The Face Of Anotheris an intellectual horror story of the highest order.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:Praj05
Teoksen nimi:The Face of Another
Kirjailijat:Kobo Abe
Info:Vintage (2003), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):***
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The Face of Another (tekijä: Kōbō Abe) (1964)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I experienced this story first several years ago via the film adaptation by the great Hiroshi Teshigahara.

So, one of the things that interests me is the tandem experience of book and film; the film really explores the idea -- a man's face is destroyed in an accident and he creates (or, in the film, has created) a mask so lifelike almost nobody realizes it's a mask at all, only to find that instead of restoring him fully to his life and his humanity, it has made him more of a monster than he was when his face was a hideous mass of scars and ruined tissue -- from the exterior. The plot wanders quite a bit from that of the novel, but that's immaterial for my purposes; what interests me now is how book and film complement each other; the film cannot, except in voice-overs, really explore the inner man of the scientist except indirectly (hence the introduction of a sub-plot lifted mostly from a film our protagonist watches early on in the book, of a girl, her face half destroyed in the Hiroshima bombing, who does charitable work for WWII veterans despite her disfigurement, but who is ultimately too isolated by it to continue); for all its startling imagery (get a load of that doctor's office, wholly invented for the film), it does not begin to come close to what makes the book such a disturbing read.

The book is written in an extended epistolary/diary form; the first person narrator is the scientist (nameless in the book) who has lost his face, writing an extended confessional to his wife. And herein lies the creepiness, for while he believes he has fashioned the mask (in secret, all on his own, in the book) to "restore the roadway" between him and his wife, he has gotten so carried away with the sudden duality of existence it affords him that he has actually come to think of The Mask as another person, a person who quickly becomes his Mr. Hyde, all id and transgressions, all an exploration of what he can get away with when no one knows it's him. Inevitably -- and I give nothing away here that isn't given away in the very opening paragraphs of the book -- he and it decide to see about seducing his own wife; the roadway he sought to restore to her is left forgotten; he takes the long way round and comes back at her as a stranger, and then rages with jealousy when Mask Him succeeds.

Throughout this confession, he reveals that the roadway was washed out long ago; he has created a wife-emulator in his head who is much stupider than she really is, less perceptive and with no self-determination, and unwaveringly regards his real wife as that lesser being. She is trapped in his imagination, confined to the smallest possible space, surrounded on all sides by him and his limited, limiting understanding of her -- and the further we get into the novel, the more oppressive is his tendency to project onto her most, if not all, of his negative feelings about himself. It's a classic trope, but I've never seen it so elegantly, horrifyingly done as here. The build-up to the actual meeting between Mask Him and his wife treats the seduction as a fait accompli ratchets the depressing creepiness up to eleven; all the time we spend alone (except for the Mask) in the nameless man's skull dials it up to twelve.

I can't recommend this one highly enough, shattering though it is. ( )
2 ääni KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
A “persona” in the standard vernacular, refers to a social role or character performed by an actor. The word is thought to have derived from Latin, where it’s original meaning referred to a theatrical mask. The Latin word probably has it’s roots in the Etruscan word “Phersu” which had the same meaning*. In the study of communication, persona is a term used to describe the versions of self that all individuals possess, with behaviours selected like masks according to the impression an individual wishes to project when interacting with others. Therefore, “personas” presented to other people will vary according to the social environment a person is engaged in and the persona presented before others will differ from the one an individual will display when they happen to be alone. According to Carl Jung whilst a child is growing, the development of a viable social persona is a vital part of adapting to and in preparation for adult life in the external social world - 'A strong ego relates to the outside world through a flexible persona; identification with a specific persona (doctor, scholar, artist, etc.) inhibits psychological development'. For Jung the danger was that people become identical with their personas (the doctor with his stethoscope, the conductor with her baton ) resulting in what could be a shallow, brittle, conformist kind of personality which is "all mask”.The Face of Another (1964) was Kobe Abe’s first major novel after the success of The Women in the Dunes (1962) and like that book follows the theme of the modern individuals alienation with the society they live in. The novel tells the story of a scientist so hideously disfigured by Keloid* scars - the result of a failed laboratory experiment - that his whole face is covered in bandages and his wife finds his image disgusting. He comes up with a plan of creating a mask, with the aim of seducing his wife as another man, all the while documenting everything in a series of notebooks. The first part sees him planning and building the mask, which is so realistic that it appears to fool everyone, save for one girl who, although we are told is intellectually challenged, still recognises that the man in the mask and the man in the bandages are one and the same.http://parrishlantern.blogspot.com/2011/12/face-of-another-kobo-abe.html ( )
  parrishlantern | Jul 13, 2012 |
A “persona” in the standard vernacular, refers to a social role or character performed by an actor. The word is thought to have derived from Latin, where it’s original meaning referred to a theatrical mask. The Latin word probably has it’s roots in the Etruscan word “Phersu” which had the same meaning*. In the study of communication, persona is a term used to describe the versions of self that all individuals possess, with behaviours selected like masks according to the impression an individual wishes to project when interacting with others. Therefore, “personas” presented to other people will vary according to the social environment a person is engaged in and the persona presented before others will differ from the one an individual will display when they happen to be alone. According to Carl Jung whilst a child is growing, the development of a viable social persona is a vital part of adapting to and in preparation for adult life in the external social world - 'A strong ego relates to the outside world through a flexible persona; identification with a specific persona (doctor, scholar, artist, etc.) inhibits psychological development'. For Jung the danger was that people become identical with their personas (the doctor with his stethoscope, the conductor with her baton ) resulting in what could be a shallow, brittle, conformist kind of personality which is "all mask”.

The Face of Another (1964) was Kobe Abe’s first major novel after the success of The Women in the Dunes (1962) and like that book follows the theme of the modern individuals alienation with the society they live in. The novel tells the story of a scientist so hideously disfigured by Keloid* scars - the result of a failed laboratory experiment - that his whole face is covered in bandages and his wife finds his image disgusting. He comes up with a plan of creating a mask, with the aim of seducing his wife as another man, all the while documenting everything in a series of notebooks. The first part sees him planning and building the mask, which is so realistic that it appears to fool everyone, save for one girl who, although we are told is intellectually challenged, still recognises that the man in the mask and the man in the bandages are one and the same.

___

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The narrative is expressed in first person through three separate coloured notebooks, although we are told that there is no reason behind this beyond a means in which to distinguish them apart. It is through them that we follow this faceless individual viewing what seems to be a dissection of his every thought, or the peeling away of layers of his psyche, but is actually multiplying the veneer on his mask, removing himself further from his expressed aim and building more masks in which to confine himself. As the tale progresses it’s as though the mask takes over, this starts slowly as his confidence in the mask grows, until it becomes a force that isolates him far more than his scarred face ever did. He, or the mask, finally get confident enough to meet his wife and is soon dismayed and angered by how easy it was to seduce her, in fact so convinced is he in his role as “mask” that he believes her sexual act with him, places her in the role of the unfaithful spouse who was so easily seduced from her marital vows and as such can be written down, catalogued and defined, before being rejected.



As I stated before, this is all played out through the three notebooks in which the scientist records and dissects minutiae of his existence, where every sentence, every page adds more layers to his mask, thereby transforming his face into a shield with which to protect himself, an anonymous faceless eye observing without being seen, reduced to a voyeuristic gaze living among millions of strangers, who although close neighbours, are faces he does not recognise – symbolising the fundamental facelessness of contemporary man lost in an ocean of complete anonymity.

“Just a minute! The plans for the mask were not the only thing. The fate of having lost my face and of being obliged to depend on a mask was in itself not exceptional, but was rather a destiny I shared with contemporary man, wasn’t it? A trivial discovery indeed. For my despair lay in my fate, rather than in my loss of face; it lay in the fact that I did not have the slightest thing in common with other men. I envied even a cancer victim, because he shares something with other men. If this turned out to be untrue, the hole into which I had fallen was not an abandoned well provided with an emergency escape; it was a penitentiary cell, recognized by everyone but me”

Towards the end of this novel, the impressions of his wife, are replaced by another beautiful face, seen in a film the protagonist saw whilst hiding out in a cinema - this girl has one side of her face an ideal of perfection, the other a mass of keloidal scarring. Here is a face of Hibakusha*, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Although half-destroyed by this scarring, her face is striking, displaying a beauty which the scientist could observe protected by the darkness of the cinema from the gaze of others and only through this visage does his own scarring cease to be a personal tragedy and can become an emblem of post-war Japan, which had not yet found a way to escape the memories of war.

http://parrishlantern.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/face-of-another-kobo-abe.html ( )
  parrishlantern | Jul 2, 2012 |
I almost don't feel like writing a review; instead, just read it. If you've read my review for his "The Box Man" then you know how I feel about this author.

Abe is just so good at sucking you in from the first page. He has even drawn you a map to his hideaway and has put tea in a thermos jug so that you may relax as you read the three notebooks that he has written just for you. But the you is not actually the reader, it's his wife, as he wishes to recount how she has come to this hideaway to read about his story.

It's the story of a scientist who has lost his face in an accident and has decided to build himself a new one; or rather, a mask. But the mask is not to be recognizable as a mask; it should instead be capable of shaping itself to fill out its beaten out contours. Typical of Abe we go through a very lengthy, a notebook-worth, explanation of how one constructs a mask and what one should look for. Now, this could seem like it'd be as a dull as reading a scientific paper on a topic one isn't interested in but, the notebook is filled with interesting ideas about what defines a face. Is it your bone structure? Is it the skin? What creates, or rather, what defines expression and what defines a person's identity? At first the scientist wishes to think that the face has nothing to do with identify for doesn't a blind person for example identify others via scent, the sound of a voice, the feeling of touch? And what about expression? Does our face create expression or do our expressions create our face? For with each smile, each frown, each tear, lines are slowly etched into our skin, tears show off a path of wetness down your cheek and the sun and age will change the shape of your face with time.

The second notebook delves into the role of the mask. Does a mask hide our personality or enhance it, subdue it or change it entirely? His accounts on the differences between masks that are made to look like masks versus masks that are made to deceive is fascinating. At one point he creates a world where masks become a trend where more and more begin to wear a mask. In just a few short pages it goes from a mere fancy to the bringing down of a government as he realizes there is no way one could regulate such a population of masked men. And if violence is inherent to a mask like a wrinkle sits by an eye, what becomes of a world where one can change their face at whim?

But as one is to expect from a Japanese Dr. Jekyll (or was it Mr. Hyde?), the mask begins to quickly overpower the scientist and we are subjected to his mumblings about wanting to seek revenge on his wife and how he intends on letting the mask seduce her. But as he becomes part of this strange menage-a-trois we go back to the word "mumblings" as after the third notebook, we are subjected to a very powerful letter. A letter that actually confirms our suspicions and brings out the pathetic nature of our poor scientist.

Fantastic book. Should be read.
And for those who are too confused by "The Box Man", this is a much easier read although just as fascinating. ( )
7 ääni lilisin | Apr 27, 2012 |
What happens when someone 'looses' their face. Scientist Okuyama has a terrible accident with liquid nitrogen leaving his face covered in keloid scars. His loss of face, of his identity is slowly alienating him from society, but he has a plan, all he needs is a new face.

Written as a letter & diaries we are deeply and firmly placed into the character' s head and one that is deeply unpleasant, self cantered, intellectually superior, extremely misogynistic and filled with flawed logic. We are drawn through his philosophical musing, his research and his flawed logic into watching a descent into madness and the creation of a monster.

It's an intense, interesting novel. All the better for being cold and clinical and torturous. The plot itself is pretty obvious early on but this is not detrimental as narrative shifts breathe life where needed (and to be honest it's all the more unsettling when you can see the end).

The diary/letter format is a clever technique: there are really just two characters the writer and the reader. Drawn unpleasantly to ride with the narrator we automatically empathise with the intended recipient since, technically this person is us. It provides a space for us to stand apart from the narrator and to mock him, giving the book its cold intensity.

Written in Japan in the 60s it could of been a terrible outdated book but although a product of its time I think it still packs a punch. The question of identity hasn't changed that much. Rather you will hate this because of it's clinical nature or the themes it concentrates, if you aren't interested in the topic or require a complex action packed horror avoid. For me it was completely refreshing. ( )
2 ääni clfisha | Nov 16, 2010 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Kōbō Abeensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetcalculated
Bervoets, HildeKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Saunders, E. DaleKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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The narrator is a scientist hideously deformed in a laboratory accident - a man who has lost his face and, with it, connection to other people. Even his wife is now repulsed by him. His only entry back into the world is to create a mask so perfect as to be undetectable. But soon he finds that such mask is more than a disguise- it is an alternate self - a self that is capable of anything. A remorseless meditation on nature, identity, and the social contract, The Face Of Anotheris an intellectual horror story of the highest order.

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