Thousand Cranes Background

Thousand Cranes Background

Thousand Cranes is a novel that was published in 1952 which was written by Yasunari Kawabata, a Japanese author. Kawabata wrote novels and short stories, and those prose works gained him international fame, and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968. In Thousand Cranes, the protagonist, Kikuji Mitani, is an orphan. Similarly, Kawabata was also an orphan after his parents passed away, but his grandparents also passed away fairly quickly, so Kawabata eventually moved to a boarding house near his school (the Japanese equivalent of a high school).

Thousand Cranes was set in Japan after World War II. This novel is split into five parts, “Thousand Cranes", "A Grove in the Evening Sun", "Figured Shino", "Her Mother's Lipstick" and "Double Star." Kikuji Mitani, the protagonist, is an orphan who is returning home for a tea ceremony that he believes will honor his father’s spirit. He becomes smitten with Mrs. Ota, one of his father’s mistresses, but she commits suicide because she feels ashamed about the affair. This novel explores the complex themes of honor, of fate, and of one’s inheritance.

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