chapter  Chapter Two
27 Pages

An Ambiguous Redemption

WithRoy Starrs

One major work which Yasunari Kawabata published in his mid-twenties, The Dancing Girl of Izu seems, initially, to form a striking contrast with the first. The most thoroughgoing and convincing defence of what might be called the 'retroactive' view of Izu is made by Hasegawa Izumi, who points out that in the short story 'Chiyo', which contains Kawabata's first treatment of his Izu experience of 1918, there is no mention at all of his psychological malaise or 'orphan psychology'. Kawashima claims that by applying his 'interpretation' we can understand why the Izu protagonist so lustily pursues the dancer at first, misconstruing her age: it is because he perceives her not as the fourteen-year-old dancer but as the sixteen-year-old Michiko. Since Senuma Shigeki's pioneering study of 1957, the 'work-analysis' critics have generally agreed that, by his meeting with the dancer, the Izu protagonist is able to achieve self-knowledge and a kind of spiritual purification.