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Geisha [signed]

Dalby, Liza

3,966 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0099286386 / ISBN 13: 9780099286387
Published by Vintage, London, England, 2000
Condition: Near Fine Soft cover
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About this Item

357 pages; pictorial soft cover with full color photograph of geisha on front cover; signed by author on front free endpaper in English and in Japanese (transliterated "Ichigiku" -- her geisha name); black & white photographs and line drawings throughout; ever so slight shelf wear; minor spine creasing due to a single reading; some age toning to pages; a near fine copy; a sound, tight example of this classic work by the American woman who broke into the closed world of the okiya, enhanced by her Japanese and English signatures. Bookseller Inventory # X00060

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Geisha [signed]

Publisher: Vintage, London, England

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title

Synopsis:

Liza Dalby, author of The Tale of Murasaki, is the only non-Japanese woman ever to have become a geisha. This is her unique insight into the extraordinary, closed world of the geisha, a world of grace, beauty and tradition that has long fascinated and enthralled the West. Taking us to the heart of a way of life normally hidden from the public gaze, Liza Dalby shows us the detailed reality that lies behind the bestselling Memoirs of a Geisha and opens our eyes to an ancient profession that continues to survive in today's modern Japan.

Review:

In the mid-1970s, an American graduate student in anthropology joined the ranks of white-powdered geisha in Kyoto, Japan. Liza Dalby took the name Ichigiku and apprenticed in the famed Pontocho district, trailing behind "older sisters" bemused by this long-legged Westerner intent on learning their arts and customs. In Geisha, this observant ethnographer paints an intoxicating picture of the "flower and willow world" to which she gained entry. "Why are you studying geisha?" asks one slightly belligerent older sister. "Geisha are no different from anybody else." Not quite, says Dalby dryly, pointing out that geisha and wives play utterly divergent, though complementary, roles in traditional Japanese society. "Geisha are supposed to be sexy where wives are sober, artistic where wives are humdrum, and witty where wives are serious." While hardly feminists, they reap freedoms unknown to other women. Dalby illustrates broader cultural differences, too, with a million tiny details about boisterous customers, how many hundred-weight of tabi (split-toed socks) geishas go through, what defines iki (chic), why maiko (young apprentices) are drawn to the life, and what geisha wear, from the skin out. Acknowledging that her growing personal stake in the masquerade prevented objectivity, Dalby frees the reader to enjoy a fluid and fascinating look at one aspect of Japanese culture. --Francesca Coltrera

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