Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater

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9780061228483: Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater

From the National Book Award-winning author of Europe Central comes a charming, evocative and piercing examination of an ancient Japanese tradition and the keys it holds to our modern understanding of beauty....

What is a woman? To what extent is femininity a performance? Writing with the extraordin-ary awareness and endless curiosity that have defined his entire oeuvre, William T. Vollmann takes an in-depth look into the Japanese craft of Noh theater, using the medium as a prism to reveal the conception of beauty itself.

Sweeping readers from the dressing room of one of Japan's most famous Noh actors to a transvestite bar in the red-light district of Kabukicho, Kissing the Mask explores the enigma surrounding Noh theater and the traditions that have made it intrinsic to Japanese culture for centuries. Vollmann then widens his scope to encompass such modern artists of attraction and loss as Mishima, Kawabata and even Andrew Wyeth. From old Norse poetry to Greek cult statues, from Japan's most elite geisha dancers to American makeup artists, from Serbia to India, Vollmann works to extract the secrets of staged femininity and the mystery of perceived and expressed beauty, including explorations of gender at a transgendered community in Los Angeles and with Kabuki female impersonators.

Kissing the Mask is illustrated with many evocative sketches and photographs by the author.

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About the Author:

William T. Vollmann is the author of seven novels, three collections of stories, and a seven-volume critique of violence, Rising Up and Rising Down. He is also the author of Poor People, a worldwide examination of poverty through the eyes of the impoverished themselves; Riding Toward Everywhere, an examination of the train-hopping hobo lifestyle; and Imperial, a panoramic look at one of the poorest areas in America. He has won the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction, a Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and a Whiting Writers' Award. His journalism and fiction have been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, Spin and Granta. Vollmann lives in Sacramento, California.

From Publishers Weekly:

The performance of female characters by male Noh actors sparks a deeply researched, lovingly detailed, and obsessive discourse on the nature of feminine beauty by award-winning novelist and essayist Vollmann (Imperium). The book charts an increasingly peripatetic path through the meticulous yet ineffable art of Noh drama from the perspective of an enthusiast, all the while groping toward some definition of beauty and the feminine. But the feminine, and even the label female, is something widely claimed, and so the search takes him from a Tokyo transvestite bar to the feet of a master Noh actor—Umewaka Rokuro, scion of an ancient acting family—to the lips of the uncanny masks themselves, the kimonos of Kabuki geishas, and well beyond, traipsing far and wide across India, Babylon, the American fashion magazine industry, old Norse literature, the paintings of Andrew Wyeth, Yukio Mishima's Noh heroine Komachi, and a transgender community in Los Angeles, among other stops. The fervently reflective, probing narrative—replete with footnotes, glossary, illustrations, appendixes, and asides—demands patience, but rewards it on almost every page. (Apr.)
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Book Description Ecco Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the National Book Award-winning author of Europe Central comes a charming, evocative and piercing examination of an ancient Japanese tradition and the keys it holds to our modern understanding of beauty. What is a woman? To what extent is femininity a performance? Writing with the extraordin-ary awareness and endless curiosity that have defined his entire oeuvre, William T. Vollmann takes an in-depth look into the Japanese craft of Noh theater, using the medium as a prism to reveal the conception of beauty itself. Sweeping readers from the dressing room of one of Japan s most famous Noh actors to a transvestite bar in the red-light district of Kabukicho, Kissing the Mask explores the enigma surrounding Noh theater and the traditions that have made it intrinsic to Japanese culture for centuries. Vollmann then widens his scope to encompass such modern artists of attraction and loss as Mishima, Kawabata and even Andrew Wyeth. From old Norse poetry to Greek cult statues, from Japan s most elite geisha dancers to American makeup artists, from Serbia to India, Vollmann works to extract the secrets of staged femininity and the mystery of perceived and expressed beauty, including explorations of gender at a transgendered community in Los Angeles and with Kabuki female impersonators. Kissing the Mask is illustrated with many evocative sketches and photographs by the author. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780061228483

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Book Description Ecco Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the National Book Award-winning author of Europe Central comes a charming, evocative and piercing examination of an ancient Japanese tradition and the keys it holds to our modern understanding of beauty. What is a woman? To what extent is femininity a performance? Writing with the extraordin-ary awareness and endless curiosity that have defined his entire oeuvre, William T. Vollmann takes an in-depth look into the Japanese craft of Noh theater, using the medium as a prism to reveal the conception of beauty itself. Sweeping readers from the dressing room of one of Japan s most famous Noh actors to a transvestite bar in the red-light district of Kabukicho, Kissing the Mask explores the enigma surrounding Noh theater and the traditions that have made it intrinsic to Japanese culture for centuries. Vollmann then widens his scope to encompass such modern artists of attraction and loss as Mishima, Kawabata and even Andrew Wyeth. From old Norse poetry to Greek cult statues, from Japan s most elite geisha dancers to American makeup artists, from Serbia to India, Vollmann works to extract the secrets of staged femininity and the mystery of perceived and expressed beauty, including explorations of gender at a transgendered community in Los Angeles and with Kabuki female impersonators. Kissing the Mask is illustrated with many evocative sketches and photographs by the author. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780061228483

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