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Madame Sadayakko was the ultimate geisha, so exquisite that the prime minister of the day paid a fortune to deflower her. But she was a rebel who wanted to carve her own path in life. In 1899 she married a subversive avant garde actor and, with a troupe of other actors, they set out on the first ever tour of the West by a Japanese theatre company. Sadayakko took to the stage and became an instant star. She danced for the American President and for the Prince of Wales in London, Picasso painted her, Gide swooned over her and Rodin admired her. But back in Japan, she suffered the stigma of being an ex-geisha and an actor and was forced, in the end, to make a terrible choice - between respectability and love.
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Lesley Downer is the author of On the Narrow Road, which was short-listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book of the Year Award; The Brothers: The Hidden World of Japan’s Richest Family, chosen as a New York Times Notable Book; and the highly acclaimed Women of the Pleasure Quarters. A frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Downer divides her time between London and New York.From Publishers Weekly:
The first Japanese actress of modern times, Sadayakko (1871-1946) shared the stage with Isadora Duncan and influenced Puccini's writing of Madame Butterfly. Unfortunately, this biography, a follow-up to Downer's Women of the Pleasure Quarters, never takes wing despite the author's best efforts to track down relatives who still remember the actress, sold by her family to become a geisha at age five. Pieced together from newspaper clippings and writings by contemporaries, the book fails to capture the excitement of Sadayakko's success. Like many geisha, who were considered social outcasts, Sadayakko married into the theater at age 19 by choosing a husband, Otojiro, from among the "riverbed beggars," as actors were then known. She joined him on stage during his troupe's first American tour, but soon she became a bigger star than he. Otojiro founded New Wave drama, or shimpa, which was much less stylized than traditional kabuki, yet Downer makes a strong case that Sadayakko was every bit as important as Otojiro to the development of Japanese theater. But Sadayakko, who was eager to support her husband, left no record to indicate the exact nature of her role, if any, in the development of his plays. After Otojiro's death, Sadayakko continued to act and to train other young actresses. Although Sadayakko was a captivating character, Downer doesn't come up with enough facts to present an equally captivating story.
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Book Description Headline Book Publishing, 2003. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1422360296
Book Description Headline Book Publishing, 2003. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111422360296