Arthur Golden – Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook

Arthur Golden – Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook

Arthur Golden – Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook

I read this book with avidity. It offers itself to us like the story of the memories of a retired geisha, expatriate in the United States at the time of her confidences. He made me discover the other side of a piece of the backdrop of Japanese society that could have fooled the uninformed Westerner that I am. Are the geishas women artists, or are they precious courtesans who practice the oldest profession in the world here as elsewhere?

“We don’t become a geisha to enjoy life, but because we have no choice.”

These words put in the mouth of Mameha, Sayuri’s big sister, in the sense of the one who takes her under her wing to teach her the trade, are likely to cut short any speculation as to the elegance of a culture. So behind the doll’s mask, there is also the drama of young girls who achieved this status because, like Sayuri, they were sold by parents who could no longer support themselves.  Arthur Golden – Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook .

The Japanese print, the cliché of the woman with the face painted in white, wrapped in her richly decorated silk kimono, with gestures that are both graceful and calculated, deludes the finality of the ceremonial that they have learned to put into effect. scene.

Magnificent novel by Arthur Golden which addresses here a form of enslavement instituted in tradition for young girls who no longer become the owner of their own body. Youth and beauty have become market value in the hands of tutors whose real role is well understood. The sale of the virginity of Chyio, who became Sayuri under her geisha name, will be negotiated to the highest bidder to reimburse the cost of her acquisition and her education costs. It is clear that in such a situation the affective inclinations of a tender heart do not weigh much more than the day she was torn from her family.

Taking the game of the interest they arouse the geishas are brought up in a universe of uncompromising rivalry. A draconian education conditions the young girl, who then no longer plans to emancipate herself than to become the mistress of a rich protector, a danna, whom she will seek to seduce with the most extreme refinement in a climate of fierce competition.

The aspect that may have diverted the uninformed viewer from the less brilliant reality of this social caste inscribed in the Japanese tradition is the sophisticated side of the exercise of seduction practiced by these women. What remains a form of prostitution, certainly directed towards a wealthy elite, presents an undeniable artistic aspect whose purpose is to awaken the imagination and bring desire to its paroxysm.

This work produced by a specialist in Japanese culture combines with great success societal, cultural and historical references to the drama that some of them have experienced, such as the young Chyio, the heroine of this novel. A pictorial fresco which is not exempt from sensuality in the spectacle of the touching of slender bodies offered to the lust of the powerful. The latter presented in a less shining aspect. A moral novel with a rare aesthetic which gives a taste for rereading it and seeing the film which was drawn from it in 2005.

This novel is a real favorite. I wanted to talk about a real discovery, but it is not. Japan pro and post World War II are circles that I like and that I am beginning to know well.

Indeed, Japanese culture has known over the years to develop in order to settle completely in our societies. Thanks to manga, books, films and Japanese music, we are starting to become more and more invaded by this universe which for my part fascinates me. I like the contrast that Japan represents, it is the only country that combines extreme modernity with the greatest traditions. Here we will be described the life of geishas (prostitutes) between rule and tradition. Well done, it’s wonderful!


Sayuri is beautiful. For her she has translucent gray blue eyes that pierce your heart. But she is also the youngest of a poor fishing family whose parents will quickly be swept away by illness and old age. She will therefore be sold in a tea room, to become a Geisha. It is therefore with her big sister that they will be sent to Kyoto, then separated in different houses to become Geishas.


I devoured this novel as much for the magnificent story as for the descriptions of this environment. It is with poetry that the author paints us a picture full of finesse. On the one hand, the Second World War as a backdrop. A war where women have little or no information. Afraid of having to work in factories. Then on the other hand there is the world of Geishas. These women whose beauty had no equal. A natural beauty for the lucky ones, but which could be artificial thanks to their outfits, their arts, their ornaments, their makeup.


This novel which tells us about a very hard subject manages to amaze us. Instead of feeling sorry for them, it fills us with hope. With a light writing and all in poetry we follow the journey of a young woman who has chosen to live. Despite abandonment, war, cruelty. Like a poem filled with wisdom and beauty, Sayuri will have to learn to be strong to find her place in this cruel world.


It is thanks to love that she will become a Geisha. But is the game worth the candle? Everything suggests that yes … Only the future will be able to confirm it!


I rejected this reading for a long time. Me, the lover of Japan, who even spent my honeymoon there, I was so afraid of being disappointed by an American novel, by a style that did not lend itself to the delicacy of the “world of flowers and willows. “. But when I finally took the plunge, I was simply transported to Gion. I became Chiyo, shy but determined, I hated Hatsumomo with her, I worried about Mother and Granny, I prayed to meet the “Chairman” at the bend of a street … You will have it understood, I liked this novel! I was never bored at any time, on the contrary, arriving at work in the morning had become a real ordeal insofar as it meant having to close my book for at least 4 hours (yes I even took advantage of my lunch breaks to move forward! !!)

Arthur Golden offers us an astonishing account of details on the life of the geishas, ​​on their codes and their traditions, but also on Japan of the 30s and 40s. With our European eyes, what a contrast to live the second war world on the side of enemies! This contrast made me think a little of “Gone with the Wind”, one could even find a (very small) bit of Scarlett in Sayrui’s determination! But the comparison ends here!

To put it simply, this novel gave me exactly what I expected from it. emotion, poetry, in an almost Japanese style. Descriptions so precise that I saw the kimonos blazing before my eyes. A moment of happiness that I recommend without hesitation!

I still have 2 negative points to underline:

1 / The translation in French.

I read this book in English. I read English-speaking novels in original version as much as possible, but I admit that sometimes I lose a little nuance so when I have the possibility, I reread in French the few passages that baffled me. But here I was terribly disappointed by the French version, I found it very bland, without finesse or nuance, and for a book dealing with “people practicing the arts” it’s still sad! In short, I felt like I was reading excerpts from a 12-year-old’s writing (I’m just talking about style of course). Finally, I am sure that I would not have appreciated the work so much if I had read it in French.


2 / the film!

As much as I liked the novel, the film, which I just watched, made me jump. It could have been titled “How to distort a masterpiece in 1 lesson” because I did not find the spirit of the book there. The first half still is more or less faithful to the scenario, but the second is so Hollywoodian, so far from the original narrative all in Japanese finesse that I really had to force myself to go to the end. A film to forget!

Geisha is a magnificent novel.

Like a butterfly blooming, we witness the emergence of one of the greatest geishas that Gion has known (a district of Kyoto famous for its pleasure houses). It all begins with learning the trade and its subtleties, until the adoption of a new name, which marks their entry into the very closed world of geishas.

Considered as artists, their mission is to entertain men who require their presence and practice the traditional Japanese arts of dance, music, singing and the tea ceremony. Arthur Golden – Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook .

We discover a merciless world, marked by rivalries between geishas and low blows. Money is also very important. This novel also provides a better understanding of the daily life of geishas, ​​marked by centuries-old traditions and superstitions.

Finally, this novel would not be what it is without the beautiful writing of Arthur Golden. The author succeeds in recreating the atmosphere of Kyoto, carrying us along. Beautiful sentences are legion and have more than once evoked Japanese haikus through their poetry. Told in the first person, by Sayuri herself, one can only identify with this child who became a geisha because she remains someone deeply human despite the privileged environment in which she evolves.

A real favorite !