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Geisha, 25th Anniversary Edition, Updated Edition Paperback – December 10, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0520257894 ISBN-10: 0520257898 Edition: 25th Anniversary Edition, Updated with a New Preface

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Provides an important window on the arts practiced by geisha, a history of their profession, and their reception in modern Japan through the mid-1970s.”
(Southeast Review Of Asian Stds 2009-01-01)

From the Inside Flap

"Dalby knows more about the subject than I'll ever know, and she writes about it with grace and eloquence."—Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 25th Anniversary Edition, Updated with a New Preface edition (December 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520257898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520257894
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Messallus on June 12, 2011
This is a very good anthological work. She has included details that could not be found elsewhere. The pictures are good too. Her writing style reminds me of a newspaper reporter.

This is the 25th anniversary book and since the original publishing one of the six Geisha districts in Kyoto has disappeared. In 1980 there was about 17,000 Geishas now there is less than 2,000. The Onsen Geishas at Atami have almost disappeared.

It's unfortunate that at the end of the book her ego takes over and she starts calling herself a Geisha. (She forgot she was writing a thesis) Dalby attended parties, played the shamisen, wore a kimono, a Geiko wig and makeup. She was never a Maiko nor went through the formal processes of becoming a Geisha, which would take several years. She was not associated any okiya. The Geishas were very generous and brought her along to the parties as their guest. A sports reporter does does not become a professional ball player by wearing a uniform and conducting interviews.

If you are fascinated by the Geisha world you will like this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JoP on March 1, 2012
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In contrast to "Memoirs of a Geisha" by A. Golden, Liza Dalby lived for 14 months within Geisha communities and can provide a more authentic and broader view than beforementioned Golden, whose publication received a lot of critics by his geisha, who felt misunderstood in some aspects.

Whereas Golden has the view of a westerner on something exotic, Dalby interviewed geisha, ex-geisha, owners of geisha houses etc., worked as a Geisha and shows us the life from within the Japanese society.

I especially like how Dalby's research questions are often interwowen by funny anecdotes and stories not only of herself but the history of her trainers and Kyoto. The book is easy to read and hard to lay down after you started. What it means to be a geisha has a lot of answers, and this ethnography will challenge popular opinions like "they are playthings for men!" "Better prostitutes!" "Isolated and can't have their own will!".

The only drawback could be that Dalby's research took place in the mid-1970s, but the author explains what has changed since then and guides the reader well.
I hope you will enjoy this as much as I did.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Animal Lover on October 29, 2011
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This is a great book to learn about the Geisha culture. I was interested in reading about Geisha after seeing the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha". Found out that an American, Lisa Dalby, had been trained as a Geisha and had written the book "Geisha" to share her experiences with us. It's a great book and anyone who thought Geisha are only glorified "women of the evening", are highly mistaken. I highly recommend this book!
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3 of 21 people found the following review helpful By PJ on April 8, 2012
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It could have been great.

So what's wrong with it? Well, name the first three things you think of when you hear the word "Geisha." Chances are, "color" is going to be in there somewhere. And that is precisely what is lacking in this book. There is not one single DROP of color. What few photographs there are tend to be grainy, dreary black and white.

And the writing style is just as drab, unfortunately.

The world of Geisha is looked at from an almost clinical viewpoint. The fun,the beauty, the mystery are scarcely hinted at. And the layout of the book is also a negative: there are copious footnotes in the back of the book, forcing the reader to page back and forth, back and forth, and that's never fun. I didn't find any of the notes to be so deserving of being set apart in this way: any one of them could have been easily incorporated into the body of the work. I finally just gave up on reading the notes, since none of them seemed all that relevant anyway. One gets the sense that the author, by doing this, was attempting to give her work a more "scholarly" appearance and feel. She certainly succeeded: the book frequently takes on the tone of an extremely long dull seminar. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

It's been a slow read for me, but I am determined to get through this book, for it is a good resource if not the most entertaining read.

If anyone knows of a book on geisha that is more enjoyable to read, please feel free to point me in that direction.
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