Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

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<Memoirs of a Geisha> is a novel that describes the life of Sayuri, a geisha during and after World War 2. This novel has the background of Kyoto, Japan, which was the major Geisha district during World War 2. Because of this setting, this novel contains vivid and realistic descriptions about life of a Geisha in the past.

The novel is narrated from the main character Sayuri Nitta’s point of view. Sayuri Nitta is a retired Geisha whom the author had interviewed before. She starts the story with recalls of her childhood by the name of Sakamoto Chiyo. She was a fisherman’s daughter in a small town. She got sold into an okiya in Kyoto when she was nine year old. Unfortunately her sister got sold into a different place, where treats women unethically. Her childhood story enacts a tragedy to the story. One day, a chairman Lwamura notices her on the street and gave her his handkerchief with some money. His kindness inspired her to become a successful Geisha. After this story, the author continues showing the life of Sayuri by jumping the time period, the time when she became a well-known, successful geisha. The story elaborately describes the changes of her emotions on chairman and her future during and the end of the war. At the end, Sayuri retires when the chairman becomes her danna. From this storyline, readers can have better understandings on Japanese culture by reflecting the historical background from the life of Sayuri as a Geisha. Also, this novel is often being evaluated to study the life and thoughts of women in Japanese society in the past. Thus <Memoirs of a Geisha> is one of the most important novels that shows the history of Japan and Geisha culture as the author mentioned that “There may well be no better record of the strange life of a geisha than the one Sayuri offers.”


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