El Memoirs of a geisha book It was a huge success when the author published it, to the point that it remained one of the best-selling books for two years, a feat few books have ever accomplished.
Many were those who read it and were amazed at some of the practices that occurred with the girls and how they worked in that profession, to the point of being controversial, especially because of the person on whom they relied the most to write the work. But what do you know about the book Memoirs of a Geisha? Next we will talk about him and everything you can find.
Table of Contents
What is the book of Memoirs of a Geisha about
The first thing you should know about the book Memoirs of a Geisha is that it is a historical novel. In it real events are narrated, but at the same time fictitious. And is that the author, Arthur Golden, researched for more than five years interviewing different geishas, some of whom were given more documentation than others. Thus, he concocted a fictional story based on situations that could well be real, setting it in Kyoto before the outbreak of World War II.
In the novel the author introduces us to Chiyo, a girl whose beauty is in her eyes. He lives with his family in Yoroido and has a sister. The problem is that, when the mother falls ill, the father cannot take care of the girls, and ends up selling them to a local businessman.
Chiyo believes that she has been adopted, but soon realizes that she is not and is taken to a geisha house in Kyoto, under the supervision of Mother. There, he starts out as a servant following Hatsumomo's orders and, when he has time, goes to geisha school.
However, Hatsumomo sees her as a rival, and tries to get rid of her in any way so that she does not become a geisha. But the twists of fate makes Chiyo become the apprentice of Mameha, Gion's most successful geisha, and this prepares her to become the best geisha. To do this, he begins by changing his name to Sayuri.
We are not going to reveal more about the plot, but you should bear in mind that Chiyo's story is quite hard in some passages and that it makes the reader have a bad time when they meet them.
What are the characters in Memoirs of a Geisha
Despite the fact that the book Memoirs of a Geisha it is narrated as if it were a diary, the truth is that there are different characters to pay attention to. The main ones are:
- Chiyo. She is the undisputed protagonist, a character who is seen to evolve in history.
- Hatsumomo. Chiyo's rival. She is very beautiful and very successful, but her hatred, jealousy and pride blinds her to the point of hatching any plan to prevent anyone from being above her.
- Pumpkin. She is Chiyo's first friend when she arrives at the geisha house. She has great success for a short period of time, aided by Hatsumomo to get her away from Chiyo.
- Mameha. She is another geisha, the best in the district, and also has her own independence by having a danna who pays for her expenses (a man who pays for her).
- President. His name is Iwamura Ken and he has several encounters with Chiyo. For her it is the reason for becoming a geisha.
- General Tottori. It is the first danna of Chiyo (Sayuri).
How controversial the book had
Memoirs of a Geisha is a book that shows, without anesthesia, the life of a girl from the time the family "sells" her until she becomes a geisha. However, this is not entirely a fiction, but is actually based on the experiences that some women told its author, Arthur Golden. One of them, Mineko Iwasaki, was the one who most identified with the novel, and for that reason, after it was published, she denounced it because it had breached the author's contract (according to Iwasaki, he guaranteed her total anonymity, due to because there is a code of silence among geishas and breaking it was a great offense).
Also, in Iwasaki's words, the book Memoirs of a Geisha implied that geisha were only upper-class prostitutes, when in fact it was not. Nor was it true that Iwasaki's parents sold her to the geisha or that her virginity was auctioned off to the highest bidder.
This confrontation was resolved with a non-judicial agreement between the author and the geisha for an amount of money that was not disclosed.
Are there more books later?
There are books similar to Memoirs of a Geisha, but not as a second part of this one. Now, after the lawsuit that Mineko Iwasaki had, she did publish a book, an autobiography in which she told the true story of what geisha were like. His title was Life of a Geisha and was published in 2004.
The film adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha
You should know that the book, after the success it had in sales, was the goal of many production companies who wanted to take it to the big screen. And they succeeded.
The adaptation of the book, whose title was the same, reflected part of what was told in the book, although not all, and changing some fragments with respect to the real story. For example, one of the most dramatic scenes in the movie involves a fire, when Sayuri's room catches fire after arguing with Hatsumomo and she falls out of favor after this. In the book, the fall is slower, and only at the end does Mameha and Sayuri give her the final push, relegating her to being a prostitute (in the movie she just disappears).
However, it was also quite successful and made the book a top seller again for a while.
For this reason, we always recommend reading the book because it gives a vision, sometimes totally different from what has been seen on television (or in the cinema).
Have you read the Memoirs of a Geisha book? What do you think about it? We would love to hear your opinion.