"An Artist of the Floating World" Summary and Personal Discussion
Part 1: Summary
Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World recounts the story of the aftermath of World War II for a Japanese propaganda artist, Masuji Ono. Ono narrates his story from October 1948 to June 1950 in the rebuilding of Japan after the destruction caused by the bombings resulting from the war. As a child, Ono’s father discouraged him in telling him he would never amount to anything in striving to become an artist. Furthermore, his first teacher, Seiji Moriyama, also discouraged Ono’s art, particularly in his differing style from his master. For these reasons, success was particularly rewarding for Ono. However, although Ono is still fairly well respected for his artistic talents in this postwar time, his use of patriotic propaganda art coupled with the negative outcome of the war for Japan put an incurable blemish in the his life. His downfall peaks in denouncing his star student, Kuroda, involving the police in arresting him and having his paintings burned.
Part 2: Discussion
One of the larger ideas that took my attention throughout reading Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World was the values of postwar Japan. I consider myself to be fairly sheltered in having never left the United States in order to experience how other people live their lives and their societal values. For this reason, I often find it particularly interesting to read (even fictional) stories that give insight into value systems largely different from America’s. Prevalent Japanese values in this story are loyalty, obedience, respect, honor, patriotism, and manners. Although these values are still evident in other cultures such as our own, the importance of adhering to these values are absolutely paramount in Japan. However, ironically, characters in the story disrespect each and every one of these values at different times in the story. Loyalty and obedience are tested by the...
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