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The Face of Another Paperback – February 4, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375726535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375726538
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A fascinating book.... The world of Kobo Abe is one in which intellectual concepts have the emotional impact and motivating power of psychotic compulsions."–Newsweek

"A major novel... Since The Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe's stock as a novelist has been very high. The Face of Another raises it still more."–The Christian Science Monitor

"Probes the edges of a waking nightmare....The central, shaping metaphor of face and facelessness is brilliant, and Abe's relentless pursuit of its every implication is powerful."–The Saturday Review

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nadja on May 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Everyone knows that in Japanese society there's hardly anything worse than losing face. Kobo Abe starts with this cultural taboo and amplifies it to its logically nightmarish extreme as he explores the existential horror experienced by a scientist who literally loses his face in a laboratory accident. Hideously disfigured and shunned even by his former friends and colleagues, the narrator of *The Face of Another* describes in harrowing detail the totality of his isolation from human contact--especially from his conventional, well-meaning wife--and his desperate plan to create for himself a life-like mask that will reopen the `doorway' between him and the community of others.

The novel itself is written as an extended address to the aforementioned wife and meant to be read after he carries out his intention of seducing her as the `stranger' the mask allows him to become. Between the elaborate preparation of the mask and the ill-fated seduction, Abe's narrator travels a zig-zag path between cynicism and self-loathing, psychological breakdown and philosophical speculation as he confronts the elusive nature of human relations and personal identity. His mask gives him a passport to cross the border forbidden the faceless and to re-enter society. Even more, it grants him the radical freedom to be someone else, to be anyone else...to be everyone else. But at what price? If he must wear a mask has he really accomplished anything? Is he really being seen by others or is his `true' self as invisible as before--and just who is he, anyway? How does he choose his mask? Does a mask ultimately reveal or conceal? Which mask will his estranged wife be seduced by? And if she is seduced, has she been unfaithful? Has she betrayed him with himself?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Conant on July 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I initially found this novel hard to respect since the central theme of a man and his mask seemed trite and a cliche. However this setup does allow the novel's main character to seduce his wife, posing as a stranger; a strange social situation which was described with much empathy and insight by Abe.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book and will be giving it for holiday gifts this year. The philosophical musings are incredibly powerful and thought provoking, while the prose is intense and suspenseful. After page 83, I found myself yelling outloud to the narrator whose journal we read as he attempts to deal with the aftermath of an accident that has stolen his face. I dare you to read this book and look at your self and others the same way you did before.
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By Alex on September 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Abe describes a scientist who after an accident causing him to break out in skin lesions on his face feels that he has lost a way to communicate with his wife and others. To try to regain this he creates a mask and it becomes more than just a replacement for his face but it comes with a different personality as well. Will the man in the mask get caught up in his new alter ego?
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By Liquid Faith on June 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first became aware of Kobo Abe through the Criterion DVD box set of Hiroshi Teshigahara's film's of Kobo Abe's books and screenplays. Also discovering the sound design of Toru Takemitsu. I bring all of them up because the 3 together produced in collaboration and own there own some of the most amazing Japanese art ever produced. As far as the author Kobo Abe I must say I now own 6 of his books. I must state first in comparison to the film, Face of Another is far different. But I won't dwell on the film other than to say it is a masterpiece of filming. The book surprised me. Simply because I saw the film first. The book is very different from the film in structure and more was added to the film. I would say the first part of the book is slow. It's written in notebook form and does drag a bit. All concerning the main character and the making of the mask. The second half however makes up for anything lacking in the first half. Once the mask is on, the identity begins to change. This is really what the book is about. The story of a man who gets his face burnt off in an industrial accident and makes a human mask of another man which he substitutes for his own. This book to me is in a fiction setting is a psychological study on identity and how it can alter a man into becoming a monster. Through taking on the persona of another man. After all if one could become two people what would one half do? I won't give away the ending other than to say it is ambiguous at best. That said I still think out of the 4 Kobo Abe books I've read (still have 2 to go), it was worth the read. But I have to say I liked the film better. So in regret to Mr. Abe this one gets a 4 star. It's still worth the read, just be patient and it will slowly take on a really good read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not merely good, compelling literature; it's philosophically profound thinking, good social theory, and inspiring thinking about the relationship between visuality and life.
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