Review of the book “Renaissance” by Kenzaburo Oé.

“Rebirth” is a novel by Japanese author Kenzaburo Oé, originally published in 1999. The story follows a famous Japanese writer, known as Bird, who suffers a stroke and is forced to confront his own mortality and the nature of his art.

“Renaissance”, by Kenzaburo Oé, one of the most recognized and awarded Japanese writers in contemporary literature. The book is a collection of six short stories that explore themes such as memory, identity, trauma, war and old age. Each story is narrated in the first person by a different character, who has some connection with the author or his work. Thus, the book becomes a kind of fictional autobiography, in which Oé reflects on his own life and his literary career.

The title of the book refers to the concept of rebirth or reincarnation in Buddhism, which involves the transmigration of the soul from one body to another after death. However, in Oé’s stories, rebirth is not only a metaphysical question, but also a way of facing the past and the present, of seeking meaning in existence and of reconciling with oneself and others. The characters in the stories are mature or elderly men, who have lived traumatic or painful experiences, such as the loss of a loved one, the disability of a child, the violence of war or physical and mental deterioration. These characters find themselves in a situation of crisis or change, which forces them to review their memories and emotions, to confront their ghosts and their guilt, and to try to be reborn or reborn through writing, art, love or friendship.

Oé’s style is sober and elegant, but also intense and emotional. His prose combines precision and clarity with beauty and poetry. His stories are full of symbolic images and cultural and historical references, which enrich the meaning and context of the stories. At the same time, Oé manages to create complex and believable characters, who transmit their feelings and thoughts to us with honesty and depth. The result is a fascinating and moving book, which invites us to reflect on our own lives and on the possibilities of being reborn or rediscovering ourselves.

The novel unfolds in two parts: the first follows Bird as he recovers in the hospital, and the second focuses on his trip to the island of Shikoku, where he seeks inspiration for a new literary work. Throughout the novel, Oé uses first-person narrative to immerse the reader in Bird’s mind, exploring his thoughts, his fears, and his search for meaning.

“Renaissance” is a deeply reflective work on art and creativity, as well as mortality and life after death. Through the character of Bird, Oé explores the role of the writer in society, and how writing can be a way of dealing with mortality and human finitude. The novel also presents a criticism of the literary world and its obsession with fame and success.

Oé’s prose is poetic and full of surprising images and metaphors. His detailed descriptions of the landscape and nature of Shikoku create an almost mystical atmosphere, which contrasts with the stark reality of the urban and technological world of Tokyo. The supporting characters are also well developed, and each has their own story and motivations.

Overall, “Renaissance” is a deep and thoughtful novel that touches on important themes about life, death, and art. Oé’s poetic prose and his ability to explore complex and philosophical themes make this novel an emotionally impactful and rewarding read. “Renaissance” is an exceptional literary work that demonstrates Kenzaburo Oé’s talent and mastery as a writer.

The yakuza is the Japanese mafia, a criminal organization that controls much of the gambling, sex and drug business in the country. The yakuza also has a strong political and social influence, and does not tolerate criticism or ridicule. Itami had made a satirical film about the yakuza titled Minbo no onna (The Lawyer’s Wife), which angered the gangsters. A few months after the premiere, Itami was attacked by some thugs who cut his face with a razor. Shortly afterward he threw himself from the balcony of his apartment.

Rebirth is a brave and committed novel that denounces the corrupt power of the yakuza and the complicity of the Japanese State with this criminal organization. At the same time, it is an intimate and emotional novel that explores the feelings of guilt, grief and love between two artists who share a critical vision of the world. Rebirth is also a novel about art as a form of resistance against oppression and as a source of rebirth in the face of death.


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