Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World

“A novel (1986) by the Japanese-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (b. 1954), about a Japanese artist looking back on his life after the Second World War.

‘The floating world’ is a Japanese euphemism for the entertainment districts of Japanese cities, scenes from which were depicted in the genre titled Ukiyo-e (‘pictures of the floating world’), a type of painting particularly popular during the Tokugawa period (1603-1867) in Japan. Subjects included courtesans, actors, scenes from plays and erotica. A well-known work of fiction from the period is Ukiyo Monogatari (c. 1661; ‘tales of the floating world’) by the Samurai turned novelist Asai Ryoi.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

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