Catalogue

COVID-19: Updates on library services and operations.

Modern girls, shining stars, the skies of Tokyo : five Japanese women /
Phyllis Birnbaum.
imprint
New York : Columbia University Press, c1999.
description
xvii, 255 p. : ill.
ISBN
0231113560
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Columbia University Press, c1999.
isbn
0231113560
catalogue key
2512810
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [253]-255).
A Look Inside
Reviews
Review Quotes
A book that sets out to disturb the cliched image of Japanese womanhood as largely passive and decorative and succeeds brilliantly.
"A book that sets out to disturb the cliched image of Japanese womanhood as largely passive and decorative and succeeds brilliantly." -- Colin Donald, Daily Yomiuri
Birnbaum brings a seasoned awareness to her work.
"Birnbaum brings a seasoned awareness to her work." -- Boston Sunday Globe
Birnbaum's dazzling portraits of these five messy lives have much to teach us, about the relationship between life and art, about modern Japan, and about the nature of biography itself.
"Birnbaum's dazzling portraits of these five messy lives have much to teach us, about the relationship between life and art, about modern Japan, and about the nature of biography itself." -- Margaret Mitsutani, Japan Quarterly
Bringing to life individuals from another time while providing the Zeitgeist of a historical period - and paying attention to just the right amount of detail to add colour - is no easy task. Birnbaum, due to her accomplished writing style, is able to pull this off in Modern Girls, Shining Stars, The Skies of Tokyo.
"Bringing to life individuals from another time while providing the Zeitgeist of a historical period - and paying attention to just the right amount of detail to add colour - is no easy task. Birnbaum, due to her accomplished writing style, is able to pull this off in Modern Girls, Shining Stars, The Skies of Tokyo. " -- Brian McVeigh, Toyo Gakuen University, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies
"Bringing to life individuals from another time while providing the Zeitgeist of a historical period - and paying attention to just the right amount of detail to add colour - is no easy task. Birnbaum, due to her accomplished writing style, is able to pull this off in Modern Girls, Shining Stars, The Skies of Tokyo." -- Brian McVeigh, Toyo Gakuen University, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies
"In these delicate exercises in biography, Birnbaum, a novelist and translator, carefully navigates the currents that swirl around her subjects, who have been co-opted or condemned by decades of partisan commentators. Together, the five portraits are a graceful and unsettling comment on the high price of iconoclasm in modern Japan." -- Janice P. Nimura, New York Times Book Review
Modern Girls, Shining Stars, The Skies of Tokyo offered me a new frame of reference, expressing a new, or rather a very old, kind of feminism--not mythic crusade but grace under fire.
" Modern Girls, Shining Stars, The Skies of Tokyooffered me a new frame of reference, expressing a new, or rather a very old, kind of feminism--not mythic crusade but grace under fire." -- Karen Mirsky, Geist: The Canadian Magazine of Ideas and Culture
" Modern Girls, Shining Stars, The Skies of Tokyo offered me a new frame of reference, expressing a new, or rather a very old, kind of feminism--not mythic crusade but grace under fire." -- Karen Mirsky, Geist: The Canadian Magazine of Ideas and Culture
Richly anecdotal.... [Birnbaum's] stories of these five 'modern' girls, and the incidental details she finds room for, usefully complicate our image not only of Japanese women, but also of Japanese men.
"Richly anecdotal.... [Birnbaum's] stories of these five 'modern' girls, and the incidental details she finds room for, usefully complicate our image not only of Japanese women, but also of Japanese men." -- Julian Loose, Times Literary Supplement
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, December 1998
Booklist, January 1999
New York Times Book Review, September 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
-- Janice P. Nimura, New York Times Book Review
Main Description
The stunning biographical portraits in Modern Girls, Shining Stars, the Skies of Tokyo, some adapted from essays that first appeared in The New Yorker, explore the lives of five women who did their best to stand up and cause more trouble than was considered proper in Japanese society. Their lives stretch across a century and a half of explosive cultural and political transformations in Japan. These five artists-two actresses, two writers, and a painter-were noted for their talents, their beauty, and their love affairs rather than for any association with politics. But through the fearlessness of their art and their private lives, they influenced the attitudes of their times and challenged the status quo. Phyllis Birnbaum presents her subjects from various perspectives, allowing them to shine forth in all of their contradictory brilliance: generous and petulant, daring and timid, prudent and foolish. There is Matsui Sumako, the actress who introduced Ibsen's Nora and Wilde's Salome to Japanese audiences but is best remembered for her ambition, obstreperous temperament and turbulent love life. We also meet Takamura Chieko, a promising but ultimately disappointed modernist painter whose descent into mental illness was immortalized in poetry by a husband who may well have been the source of her troubles. In a startling act of rebellion, the sensitive, aristocratic poet Yanagiwara Byakuren left her crude and powerful husband, eloped with her revolutionary lover, and published her request for a divorce in the newspapers. Uno Chiyo was a popular novelist who preferred to be remembered for the romantic wars she fought. Willful, shrewd, and ambitious, Uno struggled for sexual liberation and literary merit. Birnbaum concludes by exploring the life and career of Takamine Hideko, a Japanese film star who portrayed wholesome working-class heroines in hundreds of films, working with such directors as Naruse, Kinoshita, Ozu, and Kurosawa. Angry about a childhood spent working to provide for greedy relatives, Takamine nevertheless made peace with her troubled past and was rewarded for years of hard work with a brilliant career. Drawing on fictional accounts, interviews, memoirs, newspaper reports, and the creative works of her subjects, Birnbaum has created vivid, seamless narrative portraits of these five remarkable women.
Main Description
The stunning biographical portraits in Modern Girls, Shining Stars, the Skies of Tokyo,some adapted from essays that first appeared in The New Yorker,explore the lives of five women who did their best to stand up and cause more trouble than was considered proper in Japanese society. Their lives stretch across a century and a half of explosive cultural and political transformations in Japan. These five artists-two actresses, two writers, and a painter-were noted for their talents, their beauty, and their love affairs rather than for any association with politics. But through the fearlessness of their art and their private lives, they influenced the attitudes of their times and challenged the status quo.Phyllis Birnbaum presents her subjects from various perspectives, allowing them to shine forth in all of their contradictory brilliance: generous and petulant, daring and timid, prudent and foolish. There is Matsui Sumako, the actress who introduced Ibsen's Nora and Wilde's Salome to Japanese audiences but is best remembered for her ambition, obstreperous temperament and turbulent love life. We also meet Takamura Chieko, a promising but ultimately disappointed modernist painter whose descent into mental illness was immortalized in poetry by a husband who may well have been the source of her troubles. In a startling act of rebellion, the sensitive, aristocratic poet Yanagiwara Byakuren left her crude and powerful husband, eloped with her revolutionary lover, and published her request for a divorce in the newspapers. Uno Chiyo was a popular novelist who preferred to be remembered for the romantic wars she fought. Willful, shrewd, and ambitious, Uno struggled for sexual liberation and literary merit. Birnbaum concludes by exploring the life and career of Takamine Hideko, a Japanese film star who portrayed wholesome working-class heroines in hundreds of films, working with such directors as Naruse, Kinoshita, Ozu, and Kurosawa. Angry about a childhood spent working to provide for greedy relatives, Takamine nevertheless made peace with her troubled past and was rewarded for years of hard work with a brilliant career.Drawing on fictional accounts, interviews, memoirs, newspaper reports, and the creative works of her subjects, Birnbaum has created vivid, seamless narrative portraits of these five remarkable women.
Table of Contents
A Tower for the Summer Heat
Return-to-Right Hall
House of Gathered Refinements
The Cloud-Scraper
Homing Crane Lodge
Nativity Room
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem