他人の顔 [Tanin no kao] Kindle Ô 他人の顔

他人の顔 [Tanin no kao] Kindle Ô 他人の顔
  • Paperback
  • 238 pages
  • 他人の顔 [Tanin no kao]
  • Kōbō Abe
  • English
  • 02 October 2019
  • 9780375726538

他人の顔 [Tanin no kao][Download] ➸ 他人の顔 [Tanin no kao] By Kōbō Abe – Essayreview.co.uk Like an elegantly chilling postscript to The Metamorphosis, this classic of postwar Japanese literature describes a bizarre physical transformation that exposes the duplicities of an entire world Like an elegantly chilling postscript to The Metamorphosis, this classic of postwar Japanese literature describes a bizarre physical transformation that exposes the duplicities of an entire world The narrator is a scientist hideously deformed in a laboratory accident–a man who has lost his face and, with it, 他人の顔 [Tanin Kindle - his connection to other people Even his wife is now repulsed by him His only entry back into the world is to create a mask so perfect as to be undetectable But soon he finds that such a mask is than a disguise: it is an alternate self–a self that is capable of anything A remorseless meditation on nature, identity and the social contract, The Face of Another is an intellectual horror story of the highest order.


About the Author: Kōbō Abe

Kōbō Abe 安部 公房 Abe Kōbō, pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, was a Japanese writer, playwright, photographer, and inventor He was the son of a doctor and studied medicine at Tokyo University He never practised however, giving it up to join a literary group that aimed to apply 他人の顔 [Tanin Kindle - surrealist techniques to Marxist ideologyAbe has been often compared to Franz Kafka and Alberto Moravia for his surreal, often.


10 thoughts on “他人の顔 [Tanin no kao]

  1. says:

    The world of The Face of Another is the world of Japan in the 1960s , observed through Abe's highly tuned microscope; a world layered in paranoia, in which fast growing technology when not regulated, might create a terrifying nightmarish forecast of the future. Abe explores the foreign - the unknown within man, moving his protagonist in deceptive scenarios, observing his relationship with others, peeling away his external perceptions, to expose the layers within.

    A scientist's facial vulgarization caused by a lab explosion alienates and victimizes him, spurring him to create a lifelike mask capable of human expression. In the guise of this foolproof mask, he hopes to interact with the world again without the humiliation of his scars and, more personally, to seduce his wife whom he believes has been avoiding him.

    Man's soul is in his skin...I have come to observe with the greatest care the appearance of soldiers who have been wounded. And, ultimately, I have come to one conclusion. And it's a distressing one: serious exterior injuries, especially to the face, leave definite mental trauma.

    Abe's precise descriptions of the fantastic creation, constructed with the realism of a technologically sophisticated lab experiment, the structure of a suspense thriller with a science fiction theme, make for very intriguing mad-scientist material. His artfulness detail the typical Japanese obsession with faces, selfhood and social roles of the time, and perhaps, more psychologically, an experiment of the theory that man validates his ego only through others. In the novel, the narrator because of his injury, experiences isolation, loneliness, a loss of self; a monstrous outcast, questioning and uncertain of the value of his life.

    I can hardly believe that the face is so important to a man's existence. A man's worth should be gauged by the content of his work; possibly the convolutions of the surface of the brain have something to do with it, but his face certainly does not. If the loss of a face can cause conspicuous change in the scale of evaluation, it may well be owing to a fundamental emptiness of content.

    In his altered self, no longer hidden behind the old visage, his true nature surfaces. When the play-acting scheme with his wife backfires, he becomes blindly jealous of this 'other' self, and is driven by maniacal rage as the twisted revelation unfolds.

    Abe's novel brings classic sci-fi thriller components into an intricate rumination on the self, ego, otherness and the accepted ideal of what is normal. Consequentially and conceptually, what is normal or alien becomes directly under scrutiny. Abe ingeniously masks some condemning messages by inventing a scientist who suffers deforming scars distinctly similar to those of Hiroshima victims. Secondly, Abe compares the scientist's fate with Japanese-Koreans who, despite indiscernible features to their Japanese co-habitants, persistently suffered prejudice.



    The Face of Another is a story of metamorphosis from normal to monstrous, a Jekyll and Hyde story, an ill state that is directly in opposition to an idyll one. Abe suggests that within the seemingly normal external self solemnly lurks the internal alien.

    Is what you think to be the mask in reality your real face, or is what you think to be your real face really a mask?

    Read in August, 2014
    *photos are scenes from the 1966 movie adaptation directed by Hiroshi Teshigara.

  2. says:

    Huge disappointment.

    I came across Kobo Abe by way of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s screen adaptation of ‘The Woman in the Dunes,’ as well as ‘Pitfall,’ both of which I regard as masterpieces of Japanese cinema, on par with the films of Kurosawa and the other Japanese greats. This was my first Kobo Abe novel.

    The premise is very compelling. Not so the execution. I found the prose so impenetrably dull and repetitive that my trying to stay focused to follow the narrator’s train of thought was quite excruciating. Poignant insights or thought-provoking ideas are either few and far between, or else well disguised, locked within closed loops of quasi-philosophical non sequiturs—ostensibly the protagonist’s jotted-down musings on such themes as identity, alienation, and sexual desire—which make up the bulk of the novel.

    Maybe there is profound insight and meaning to be had from some of those passages. Then again, maybe not. Actually, it doesn’t matter. For me, a piece of well-wrought fiction conveys its meaning on many levels, and can be appreciated without being ‘understood’ (whatever that means). With a prose that is clunky, circuitous, riddled with inane similes (e.g. ‘a wretched feeling, like wearing wet socks’) and makes use of the phrase ‘in heaven’s name’ on every other page, ‘The Face of Another’ is just poor craftsmanship. Simple as that.

    I fail to see why anyone would want to wade through this heap of literary refuse in search of a few (perhaps) well-hidden nuggets of philosophical insight.

  3. says:

    The Face of Another [1964] – ★★★★★

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be” (Kurt Vonnegut).

    After enjoying The Woman in the Dunes [1962] over the summer, I have now read The Face of Another by the same author (translated from the Japanese by E. Dale Saunders). In this story, which is narrated through three notebooks (diaries), we are told of a scientist who gets facially disfigured while conducting an experiment in a laboratory, and struggles from then on to fit into the society with his disfigured face. He manages to make a mask that is indistinguishable from a real face, but soon finds out that his problems have only just began as his personality also starts to change. There is something from Frankenstein [1823] in this novel, something from Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde [1886], something from The Invisible Man [1897], something from Steppenwolf [1927], and something from Franz Kafka and Ernesto Sabato as well, resulting in this novel being a psychologically and philosophically delicious journey into the dark recesses of one increasingly damaged mind.

    There are a number of ways to write a review of this book because there are a number of interpretations one can focus on. I will emphasize in this review the link between the face and identity, and the resulting psychology and existential crisis. In The Face of Another, the main character (the scientist) learns fast after his lab accident that one’s presentable face is essential for societal acceptance. His face is so horribly disfigured that he has to bandage it and then go out into the world, with the result being that people stare at him and feel embarrassed. The scientist also realises that one’s face provides a special key to one’s identity. By losing his face, the narrator feels like he lost something very important – not only the means to make normal communication with the outside world possible, but also some path through which he can see himself, who he really is and connect with himself (perhaps, with his mental image of himself). We become aware of the ensuing existential crisis of the narrator through three notebooks which he left behind. In them, he hints at some terrible act that he has committed, but we as yet know nothing about, and at his dissatisfaction with the societal response to his disfigurement. “Shut off by a wall of affability, I was always completely alone” [1964: 10] and “yet it was not I who should feel ashamed. If there was anyone who should suffer, was it not rather the world that had buried me alive, that made no attempt to recognise a man’s personality without the passport of the face?” [1964: 98], writes our narrator in one of his notebooks.

    The narrator of the notebooks (the scientist) then makes a decision to make a mask which is indistinguishable from a real face to begin a new life as an acceptable member of society. Since the narrator is a scientist, he approaches every problem with an analytical mind. He consults an expert in cosmetic surgery, as well as an expert in palaeontology, finding out that facial movements and wrinkles would be the hardest to replicate in any artificial face. When our narrator finishes his mask, that would make him finally a normal human being in the eyes of many, and then tries it on, he is not sure if its effects are as desirable anymore. At this point, The Face of Another plays interestingly with an ancient notion that states that a man is capable of anything provided that he wears a mask. The idea here is that when a person veils his identity, he is capable of thoughts and actions his normal self would not even dream of. In this sense, Kobo Abe explores in The Face of Another a situation whereby a mask provides one with special liberation and empowerment, changing the wearer’s personality, making him do strange things. After all, the majority of public actions are only being restrained or propelled by societal expectations – they should reflect those expectations and we act accordingly.

    The great aspect of the novel is that we do not quite know what to expect from the narrator or where his new transformation would take him. At the start, we do not even know the nature of an incident that led to his disfigurement because the scientist in his journal chooses to focus on the room that he started to rent and on his laboratory work, rather than on what we really want to know – what horrible thing did the narrator apparently commit? This focus on insignificant things makes for an intriguing read since we have no choice but to fill the gaps in knowledge with our own horrifying conclusions. Also, like in The Woman in the Dunes, there is a big contrast in The Face of Another between the relative calm of the beginning and the chaotic, almost insane, realisations coming to us readers seemingly from nowhere in the novel’s second part. Near the end of The Face of Another, one very interesting psychological situation occurs involving the wife of the scientist, who has also struggled throughout the story to come to terms with her husband’s transformation. Despite the novel’s slightly rambling and repetitive nature, its conclusion feels strangely right and elegant.

    The Face of Another would be a delightful book for those who like introspective books which focus on the mind of a main character thrown into an extraordinary situation. The book is a psychologically intense character study of a man grappling with the realities of his facial disfigurement (stigma and alienation), as well as with the realities of his newly found, even if artificially-constructed, identity.

  4. says:

    Face of Another is a kind of post-Kafka take on the experiment gone wrong stories of Wells and Stevenson. Abe sometimes sinks his narrative drive by fully realizing the artifice through which he is revealing his story, here it is the notebooks of the scientist who creates the titular object, written to his wife. This mirrors the structures of Secret Rendezvous and Box Man and in the final post-script of the wife echoes the finale of Tanizaki’s The Key. The notebooks contain anecdotal philosophizing and scientific procedures, alongside manic confessions and visceral accounts of his dissociative panic, and accounts of folk tales and movies that reflect the book’s themes. Things start to pick in the second half as the narrator’s eccentric behavior increases, his identity becomes frayed, and he literally begins haunting his own life. Abe also continues his willingness to take a central metaphor and discuss from as many possible angles and permutations with a mix of profound, witty, silly, and nightmarish discussions of the implications of faces and mask; especially pertaining to the lack of the former and the destruction of identify possible with the later. Another creepy parade of thought provoking images by a master of the surreal and macabre.

  5. says:

    This is by far my favorite of Abe’s novels. Mainly due to the odd tension he is able to sustain through long, often philosophically concerned monologues of a man who, after burning his face, decides to fashion and wear a mask in an effort to locate the social effect of the self and how that self can be split. It kept reminding me of a more universally centered American Psycho, 30 years before Ellis’s, with even more layering of psychological effect and more eerie calm as the narrator continues revealing himself, burying himself, and creating a new self over and over again, unto a whole. This novel captures so well the sense of being a person imprisoned both in the self and in the thousands of other selves surrounding any given person. It explores the weird interlocking rooms in which from one to the next you could become anybody depending on who is counting and what you carried in. I keep thinking I want to nail this book to the wall in my closet.

  6. says:

    All I could think was what if Jim Carrey's The Mask turned out like a Kobo Abe novel.

    I mean, it is Kobo Abe, so it can't be bad, and I loved the premise, but it didn't haunt me the way that Woman in the Dunes or The Box Man or The Ark Sakura did. There's precise, clinical detail, epistemological rumination, all that good shit, but it doesn't quite come together until the end, which is absolutely rapturous. Enough so that my initial misgivings were largely forgiven.

  7. says:

    But then, it just occurred to me … it’s probably a good thing to go to the movies occasionally. The whole audience puts on the actor’s face. No one needs his own. A movie’s a place where you pay your money to exchange faces for a while

  8. says:

    If we were to loose the most referential aspect of who we are (our face) how would it effect our relationship with others? This chilling narrative answers that question.

  9. says:

    I don't even know what to say... I enjoyed every sentence of this book. This is by far one of the best books I've ever read.

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