The Master of Go Author:Yasunari Kawabata This is an English text translated from Japanese and printed in Japan. — From Wikiepedia: — It is a semi-fictional chronicle of the lengthy 1938 "retirement game" of Go by the respected master Honinbo Shūsai, against the up-and-coming player Minoru Kitani (although the latter's name is changed to Otake in the book). It was the last game of th... more »e master Shūsai's career, a lengthy struggle which took almost six months to complete; he lost to his younger challenger, to die a little over a year thereafter.
Kawabata had actually reported on the match for the Mainichi newspaper chain, and some sections of the book are reworked versions of his original newspaper columns. The Japanese word used to describe the book is shōsetsu, which may be translated as "chronicle-novel", but it is mostly true to life.
The book has many layers of meaning, more so than Kawabata's other works. As well as simply describing the game, on the surface there are the inherent themes of the struggle between the older player whose powers are fading, and his younger challenger; and also the clash between the differing playing styles, and the personalities in which they are to some degree rooted. The book also reflects the tension between old traditions and new pragmatism - for example, commenting upon the rigid rules governing the contest, the author writes:
From the way of Go, the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled. Everything had become science and regulation.
Finally, as a retelling of a climactic struggle, translator Edward Seidensticker considers it a symbolic parallel to the defeat of Japan in World War II, an event which affected Kawabata deeply. Kawabata began work on the book during the war, but did not complete it until well after the end of it.« less