Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Somersault (OE, Kenzaburo) Paperback – December 3, 2003
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The novel follows a few characters, but they are all quickly joined together in the midst of the beginning of the Church of the New Man. Patron, the church's founder and leader, spent 10 years alone with his religious partner Guide, after they had done a "Somersault" and had claimed their old movement was all a big joke. The rise of a radical faction within that old movement prompted this dramatic event. It is the regathering of old followers and new that occupies much of the narrative of the book.
The book is filled with long dialogues and monologues, as characters' struggles and understandings of the Somersault, themselves, Patron, faith and God are all covered in this way. This means that monologues can run for a couple of pages as characters relate their pasts, their hopes, or Patron deals with his view of events.
It has been commented that the book lacks detail with the teaching of the movements. While the detail is rather sparse, there is enough content given to form some understanding of the main points of the church's doctrine and teaching. This develops through the book, a good example being the nature of Patron. The theme of repentance, renunciation of the world, trust in Patron, visions, prayer and so on are all there. The use of Biblical texts and some others are also there. For some more theologically minded readers, maybe more detail would have been nice, but the book certainly does not suffer for the lack of it.
Oe has dealt with a lot of different themes, and different ones will stand out to different people.Read more ›
First, on a sociological level, it seems that Oe is fascinated, even obsessed, by groups. Almost all of the characters belong to a group: the Quiet Women, the Technicians, the office staff, the Fireflies. Even the quasi-individualistic Kizu is first and foremost generically "a professor." Characters in this novel are always strongly identified with the group to which they belong. Strong individuals such as Gii emerge as leaders of a group. Is this emphasis on groups a Japanese thing, or is it uniquely Oe?
Keeping in the sociological theme, I think Oe paints Japanese society as chock full of forbearance. All the characters tolerated each other and tried to understand why all of the other characters did what they did. They all helped each other and were thoughtful to each other's needs. Nobody was mean-spirited. Even the strong-willed characters Gii and Ikuo were, at heart, incredibly nice people. Dancer was very polite throughout. Kizu was a kindly old professor. Ogi, the Innocent Youth, is the archetype example of niceness. Even the folks who tortured Guide were quickly forgiven. Is this emphasis on polite behavior, too, a Japanese or an Oe-centric thing?
On the deeper, religious level I think it was always Oe's intent to leave the religious message from Patron deliberately ambiguous. In fact, the ambiguity of spiritualism is the take-home message of the novel.
How is this manifested in the book? Well, the vast majority of the principal players: Ogi, Dancer, Kizu, Gii, Guide himself, have no real religious conviction and are just drawn into Patron's inner circle via his cult of personality or (in the cases of Gii and Kizu) for ulterior reasons.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A Personal Matter continues to be a favorite of this avid reader. Oe
decided to try something new and it just doesn't work. Read more
I picked up this book because I am interested in Japanese culture and figure a Nobel Prize winning author writing a novel about a religious movement in modern day Japan would be... Read morePublished on July 12, 2006 by P. Walsh
Kenzaburo Oe gives a thoughtful, occasionally engaging, look at religious fanaticism in his latest novel "Somersault". Read morePublished on June 25, 2003 by John Kwok