The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

❰Read❯ ➵ The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Author David Mitchell – The year is 1799 the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor the “high walled fan shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world designed to keep the The year is the place Dejima Autumns of eBook ✓ in Nagasaki Harbor the “high walled fan shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there To this place of devious merchants deceitful interpreters costly courtesans earthuakes and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet a devout and resourceful young The Thousand PDF or clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancée back in HollandBut Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate The borders between propriety profit and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded one rash promise made and then fatefully broken The conseuences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings As one cynical colleague Thousand Autumns of Kindle Ñ asks “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient with his very life”A magnificent mix of luminous writing prodigious research and heedless imagination The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is the most impressive achievement of its eminent author.The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell was born in Southport Merseyside Autumns of eBook ✓ in England raised in Malvern Worcestershire and educated at the University of Kent studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an MA in Comparative Literature He lived for a year in Sicily then moved to Hiroshima Japan where he taught English to technical students for eight years before returning to England Afte.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet PDF ☆ Thousand
  • Hardcover
  • 479 pages
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  • David Mitchell
  • English
  • 27 September 2016
  • 9781400065455

10 thoughts on “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

  1. says:

    In this historical novel an unassuming Dutch bookkeeper named Jacob de Zoet falls in love with a beautiful midwife in 18th century Japan When Miss Aiba gawa is spirited away to a mountain monastery Jacob finds the heroism in his soul Here is a bygone secret world full of charm and horror Mitchell is best known for Cloud Atlas which was a literary stunt in this correspondent’s opinion The Thousand Autumns is far better

  2. says:

    Remember Dr Seuss's words children Oh the Places You'll Go In the case of wunderkind writer David Mitchell's THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET you'll set your time machine dial for 1799 and a makeshift Dutch port called Dejima on the shores of Nagasaki Japan But let's take it down another level You'll start at the port and live with old salts that'll make the Pirates of the Caribbean look like so many Lord Fauntleroys You'll visit the homes of the secretive Japanese magistrates You'll do some time in Dr Marinus's academy witnessing some bone chilling turn of THAT century operations removal of a kidney stone for instance in full metal graphics You'll go up into the mountains past Nagasaki up to a castle where Japanese women are held in captivity but told they are nuns worshiping an obscure goddess Over the river and through the woods you'll go in an exciting mission with samurais bent on rescuing one very special captive in this castle And you'll even hit the low seas off Dejima and join British Captain Penhaligon as he wrestles with his conscience and his wits trying to decide whether to attack the Dutch and Japanese or negotiate with them Nautical chess games anyone?David Mitchell can flat out write Among contemporary writers he reigns supreme I would say in my book but in HIS books actually for his ability to turn poetry into words and to make images dance in startling ways This is a writer's writer with imagination and skill And what's best is how he's constantly challenging himself as well Here we have historical fiction in one of the most unusual of settings yet you'll feel you're there and that you actually have an understanding of the mysterious land of the shoguns as well as the nefarious intrigues of the European traders As you'd expect from Mitchell the allusions are rich and varied too Through characters such as Dr Marinus the surgeonmusicianman of science as well as the arts with the Dutch you'll hear references to the Greeks the Romans the ancient Arabs the Bible mythology philosophers scientists and whatnot An irascible and complex man Marinus was one of my favorites though his role was rather minorBigger roles go of course to Jacob and the disfigured Japanese midwife he falls in love with Orito Aibagawa Jacob De Zoet a practical and religious man is honest to a fault Among the Dutch lowlifes he is both gasoline and match in other words and his zealous opposition to embezzling and skimming profits and black marketing make him many enemies Orito has her own problems A student of Dr Marinus's she attracts unwanted attention from the Japanese nobles some noble and others vicious when she dallies with the pale skinned auburn haired Jacob When she disappears the novel takes off to some of the exotic locales mentioned early in this reviewSome readers may struggle with the number of Japanese names and characters especially at the nunnery but Mitchell at least is studious in his characterization and the special uirks he bestows to his creations At times Mitchell can overwrite too when he should move on but those instances are neither freuent nor extended The book's best scenes come at the end when the added dimension of a British frigate is provided The match of wits between Capt Penhaligon and De Zoet when Dejima is bottled up by the man of war is a joy to read Mitchell is at his best when dealing with the psychological and the power of decisions made in moments of crisis to alter historyIf you've had your fill of beach reads this summer THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET is your antidote It's serious contemporary literature by one of our gifted scribes It's a grown up's book that contains not only incredible description but a sound plot And no it won't baby you with constant hold on to your seat action but you can handle that and you can appreciate a novel for its construction and its grander designs as well right? So why not give it a places you'll go?

  3. says:

    I've spent a week reading this very fine novel and a weekend attempting to unpack it and I have little doubt I'll spend a good few years thinking about it from time to time If one measure of a novel is its ability to simultaneously inspire and confound engagement then Mitchell has once again turned it up to 11Most of the reviews I've been reading have remarked that this is Mitchell's most formally conventional novel linear third person narrative and that his often scintillating prose has been burnished to a muted lustre and for the most part these are accurate There's less showmanship here without any reduction in finesse But in all Mitchell's novels messages hide within the virtuosity and this book's lack of embellishment brings them a little closer to the surface We are tantalized with recurrent themes unexplained symbols ties between distant story lines indeed between entire novels and I've been having a hell of a time trying to reconstruct it all into some kind of meaningThe reviews that have helped bring some coherence to my thoughts though are those by the Irish Times and the Times of London both of which point out the importance of bridging divides between people cultures worlds Dejima is a bridge between Europe and Japan Its denizens are interpreters tradesmen and scientists all disciplines that form bridges between people language goods knowledge Characters constantly bridge the gap between each other and between them and the reader by recounting their backstories in Scooby Doo esue wavy screened flashbacks Jacob and Uzaemon are united by books and later by Orito Jacob and Orito by love letters and language Marinus and his Japanese colleagues by medicine and botanyDejima like other frontiers is also a crucible for morality and we are constantly reminded of what can befall those who fail to bridge divides and continue to see other people and cultures as entirely alien Corruption is rampant as well as infidelity The Dutch and the Japanese habitually try to cheat each other just as they play and betray their own countrymen Slavery and subjugation are implicitly and explicitly addressed again and again like in Cloud AtlasIt was interesting to me that there were very clear cut Good Guys and Bad Guys The Good Guys de Zoet Orito Marinus Uzaemon are all truth seekers of sorts Jacob crunches numbers and uncovers corruption Orito and Marinus are scientists Uzaemon studies the true meaning of words They all also have internal non relativistic moral codes that burn just as brightly on foreign soil as at home and allow them to recognize kindred fires abroad Jacob standing on the watch tower or Marinus decrying the beating of a slave Orito choosing to save others despite her imprisonment and Uzaemon abandoning his steady obedient life to destroy the templeThe Bad Guys Enomoto Vorstenbosch Capt Lacy Fischer are universally self interested and view others as stepping stones chattel or even food Enomoto is a bit of a mystery to me though He's a mustache twirling finger tenting immortal super villain who has magic powers and eats babies In a thoroughly researched realistic historical novel he kind of stands out I suspect that aside from entertainment his presence and exit are actually meant to demonstrate what evil is not He's the only bad guy who gets his comeuppance as if the only evils that can be truly vanuished are the imaginary ones As Grote says 'Tain't good intentions what paves the road to hell it's self justifyin's p 104 and as Enomoto himself says Evil evil evil You always wield that word as if it were a sword and not a vapid conceit p 309 Evil is not discrete or separate nor can it be nicely excised All the human transgressors survive even prosperAnyway those are the things that seem to make sense to me about this novelHere are a few things that don'tWhat the hell was up with the constant interruption of uotes? For example'Chief van Cleef' Fischer calls after him 'and I shall discuss your insolence''It's a long way' Ivo Oost smokes in a doorway 'down to the bottom''It is my signature' Fischer shouts after him 'that authorizes your wages' p 166The majority of uotes are written this way In an unknown author I might attribute this to a weird lexical tick but Mitchell is a careful meticulous writer capable of adopting many different voices and styles so I think this has to be intentional But what does it mean? I'm guessing the form has some relation to Japanese literature or poetry but I don't know enough to make a connectionMitchell also repeatedly employs this weird interleaving of interior and exterior monologue An example from the Phoebus as Cpt Penhaligon listens to a sermon'And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared'The common run of chaplains is either too meek for so unruly a flock'and no small tempest lay on us all hope that we should be saved'or else so zealous that the sailors ignore scorn or vilify them'was then taken away But after long abstinence Paul stood forth'Chaplain Wily an oysterman's son from Whistable is a welcome exceptionp 328These passages are almost unreadable Perhaps they are there both to contrast truth as thought and truth as communicated the bridge and to demonstrate how utterly discordant the two can beAnimals a moth witnesses birth at the start and a butterfly witnesses death at the finish Orito speaks to cats and rats in moments of drug induced madness and William Pitt the monkey bears witness to the tribulations on Dejima Nature does not play an overt role in this book or in any Mitchell novel? but natural elements seem be deliberately included Simply mneomnic rigging or is there explicit allegory at play? And finally my notespuerperal adj adj form of puerpera a woman who has just given birth p 8yakumoso n a bit of searching of suggests this is some member of the genus Leonurus maybe Leonurus japonicus Apparently it's commonly used in Asian folk medicine just as the related motherwort is used in European folk medicine As with so many folk remedies it seems to treat just about everything though there apparently are some papers about antimicrobial propertiesfarrago n hodgepodge mixture p 11carrack n a kind of merchant ship p 15The pain is prismatic p 45 I kind of hate it when authors employ literally floral language when describing pain delicate pain pain blossoming etc I like prismaticprovedore n a purveyor or provider? How do they relate to stevedores? Prove gives the hard tack to Steve and Steve loads it onto the boat? Why isn't anyone named Prove? Why? p 56Deflate your testicles comme à la mode via the village pimp or Sin of Onan p 58 Sadly it doesn't take much to make me laugh As usual though the Bible is funnier And the thing which he did displeased the LORD wherefore he slew him also Genesis 3810 Old Testament God held no truck with half assed punishment like mere blindnessglister n alternate spelling of clyster which is an archaic term for an enema had to rely on Wikipedia for the alternate orthography but clyster is in my abbreviated OED This scene is both horrid and hilarious I love Dr Marinus p 66dithyrambic adj a dithyramb was a form a Greek song and dance involving a large group of men and boys dancing in a circle Apparently it had a uniue meter but not sure what it was p 69chandler n candle maker p 100splenetic adj pertaining to the spleen irritable p 109 langer n apparently an all purpose disparagement in County Cork Ireland Wikipedia and this page have interesting perspectives on the history of the word as does this performance of The Langer Song If the east Indian simian etymology is correct though Con Twomey would have been a bit ahead of his time in speaking it despite being a Corkman p 111bourse n an exchange or market p 114monorchid n a man with only one testicle Let me take a moment to assure you that that the somewhat juvenile selection of words here reflects the rather puerile condition of my own predilections and not the overall tenor of the novel The word orchid apparently derives from the Greek word órkhis meaning testicle I always chuckled when I read about the scrotum like flowers of the Pink lady's slipper Cypripedium acaule Now I realize I should have been chuckling a lot p 118 Act implores the Ghost of Future Regret I shan't give you another chance p 123manumission n manumit means to free from slavery the etymology seems to be something like emit from one's hand This passage sets off a debate about slavery p 129'So it is the sulphur of Jean Calvin' says the Irishman in English 'making war on my nostrils' Jean Calvin as in the eponymous progenitor of Calvinist Christian doctrine to which the Dutch de Zoet would probably subscribe That went right over my head p 151moxibustion n a form of East Asian medicine involving mugwort which is apparently dried and burned or actually burned into the skin p 174Maria and Iesu sama I had no idea there were all these Christians in Japan Spanish and Portuguese Jesuits brought Christianity to Japan in the 16th century and apparently it was so popular the Shogunate saw it as the preliminary incursion of European imperialism and made moves to snuff it including killing lots of people and instituting the ritual of fumi e resulting in Japan's legendary seclusionist policy that lasted until the Perry Expedition in the 19th century I know so so little about history Sigh p 178febrifuge n drug to reduce fever also known as an antipyretic p 193Van Diemen's Land pn another name for Tasmania The indigenous Palawa went extinct after encountering Europeans p 199Men of commerce sir for the most part had their consciences cut out at birth Better an honest drowning than slow death by hypocrisy law or debt Ah a man after my own heart p 332Ibani ui poterant ui non potuere cadebant I think there's a typo and it should be Ibant ui poterant ui non potuere cadebant which means Those who could have gone those who could not have fallen which seems appropriate I guess Marinus is referring to this pastel by Dutch painter Cornelis Troost but the painting seems to depict drunken party goers trying to head home A joke I guess Where in Hell does Mitchell get this stuff p 366podagra n synonym for gout p 375bagnio n literally a bath house though in this sense probably whore house p 381ingravescent adj gradually worsening I like how even the Cpt objects to the arcane language Not that I'm objecting I'm doing the opposite p 407Reverse our reverses Penhaligon Shiroyama and Marinus all employ this phrase To what end Mitchell? p 429Regarding the V sign and the Battle of Agincourt as I dimly recalled while reading this passage the French supposedly threatened to cut off the first two fingers of English longbowmen and the English thus used those same fingers to taunt the vanuished French However Wikipedia claims the story is apocryphal and that the gesture's first recorded use dates to the early 20th century p 430 uid non mortalia pectora cogis Auri sacra fames Apparently from The Aeneid this translation has it as Cursed lust of gold to what dost thou not force the heart of man? p 431

  4. says:

    A shooting star lives and dies in an instantI first read this when it was published in paperback just because it was by Mitchell I admired the craft of the writing but overall I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction and this seemed a very straightforward narrative in comparison with three of his four preceding booksNow in 2014 after reading The Bone Clocks I discover that is the second in the Marinus trilogy and this was the first Almost immediately I returned to this and oh how utterly different and complex it turns out to be So much was hiding in plain sight This book really demonstrates the enormous canvass of the uber book that Mitchell is planning years ahead over many volumes some closely connected than others An autumn breeze drags its invisible robes around the fine roomNote It’s hard to manage all my interconnected reviews of Mitchell’s books but they are all here sort of novel is this?This is a single largely chronological story told in three main sections A gibbous moon is grubby Stars are bubbles trapped in iceIt is a work of exhaustively researched historical fiction set in the Dutch concession of Dejima in Japan a closed artificial island within a nation of islands closed to the world at the crossover of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Dejima was Japan’s only window on the rest of the world and Europe’s only window on Japan Windows are a leitmotif throughout and Land of A Thousand Autumns is one of the names Japan was known byIt’s also very much the story of two men who love the same apparently unattainable woman Dawn breathes muddy greens and ember reds through grey woodsThere’s an escape attempt a rescue mission secret messages and a battle but still pretty conventional More uirkily there is a constant smattering of exuisite once sentence images almost like haiku I’ve sprinkled some in this review as you’ve probably noticed Marigolds in the vase are the precise shade of summer rememberedThere are useful historical notes and a list of characters at the backBut it is also a book with a hidden understory the cover foreword and afterword do not even hint at any of the less factual aspects that link it to The Bone Clocks So it is two books in one – depending whether you know about Marinus when you read this Wisteria in bloom foams over a crumbling wallWhereas The Bone Clocks overtly pre empts possible criticism and highlights deus ex machina moments this is subtler except once “You’d think these coincidences’d not happen not off the stage not in life” but there aren’t that many of them here Plot The notes of luminous sonatas hang like grapes from the staveOn a first reading the plot was at the forefront; rereading after The Bone Clocks the plot is of a framework for the ideas within NeverthelessIt opens with a life and death scene the delivery of the local Magistrate’s son However most of the first section covers the arrival of young shrewd clever honourable clerk Jacob de Zoet whose father and uncle were pastors He is to investigate anomalies in the company accounts A doe cries for her yearling slaughteredWe glimpse this beguiling and unfamiliar world with its complex language foreigners weren’t allowed to learn it and rigid ritual through his eyes There’s plenty of wheeling and dealing and politics within the Dutch community and between them and the Japanese – above and below board in both cases Business isn’t what it was which increases tension and the Dutch desire for copper In addition Jacob falls for a Japanese midwife Orito who has a burn scar on her face and is a student of Dutch doctor Marinus The second section concerns a secretive and increasingly sinister mountain shrine run by the powerful Abbot Enomoto purportedly to bring fertility to the surrounding area Monks and nuns are kept apart mostly and a new nun is sent effectively sold by her step mother to cover her dead father’s debts This section relates most closely to The Bone Clocks but also has echoes of view spoilerThe Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World hide spoiler

  5. says:

    It's been a while since I read and loved this the first time and in the interim Mitchell has written two books which have caused me to think less of him as a novelist The Bone Clocks and Slade House both of which for me had a kind of juvenile silliness running through them Therefore I was a bit worried of spoiling my wonderful memory of this book Didn't happen though I loved it from start to finish Usually my awful memory is a cause of frustration Only perhaps when rereading novels does it become a blessing This is very much an adventure story so prior knowledge of twists and outcomes would take away some of the pleasure Mitchell's ventrilouism is at the height of its ingenuity here Language plays a big part in this novel Mitchell is writing in English about people who are speaking both Dutch and Japanese Translators abound It's a kind of marvel how effortlessly he resolves the difficult problem of both dramatizing and fluidly smoothing out all the language barriers Mitchell here is speaking up for the cross pollination of cultures for universal inclusion rather exclusion for the bringing down of state walls Hierarchies of power bullying are a constant Mitchell theme and feature heavily again here We have two wholly autonomous characters one representing good and the other evil; everyone else in the novel is a prisoner of some kind; sometimes of an ailing body sometimes of a hopeless love and often of the masterservant social role prevalent at the time The enclosed Dutch trading post on the Japanese coast is a prison of sorts as is the inland temple where the action sometimes takes place and as is the English ship that arrives to do battle with the Dutch enclaveSuper clever too how he often deploys haiku for ambient detail between lines of dialogue which replacing long winded background passages keeps the pace of the novel urgent Another thing struck me and that's how rarely any author will take the side of a foreign power against his own country in a political dispute When in a fabulous scene the Dutch and English stand off each power represented by an individual we or me as a Brit are very much sympathising with the foreigner A nice knee in the groin to sweeping nationalist conceit While reading I began thinking there's something uietly revolutionary about how this novel and Hilary Mantel's Cromwell novels tackles historical fiction I was recalling a couple of 20th century historical fiction novels I've recently read that were so weighted down with detailed research with the strain of evoking authenticity that they were like overloaded ships struggling to keep afloat But I couldn't uite put my finger on what new uality this novel has After all there have been mischievous free flowing almost cinematic forays into historical fiction by great authors of the past One thinks of Tolstoy and Dickens George Eliot and Virginia Woolf So how to describe the exciting freshness and vitality of Mitchell's storytelling techniues? I'm not sure I can

  6. says:

    Since discovering David Mitchell a little over a year ago I have devoured all five of his novels to date Yet I still cannot say what it is that keeps me impatiently coming back for He is a master of voices He breathes life into characters uickly and effortlessly He is not afraid to dive into the unknowable mysteries embedded within us Time life dreams death Without the crutches of belief or disbelief he dances around uestions of the soul His villains are ofttimes as compelling as his heroes differing only in their intentions Every word is written with a highly tuned sense of the present moment Always nowAnd still any list of Mitchell’s ualities will not satisfactorily add up to why I get so much out of his writing Regardless within the first page or two in all of his books I knew I was in good hands and could safely give in to what this reader does best read

  7. says:

    THE APPRENTICEWEEK 6 THE SEMI FINALVoiceover Lord Sugar is looking for a historical novelist to invest in He scoured the country for the very best Twelve were selected to begin the process After six weeks of hard battling only three are left It's the Apprentice Week SixWe see a montage of the three remaining contestants David Mitchell Hilary Mantel and Sarah Waters frantically typing away on laptopsThis week's task to write a complete historical novel in only seven days All the sleepless nights wrecked marriages and substance addictions have come down to this The novels are written and Lord Sugar's verdict is inHe has sat through all three power point presentations He has cross checked certain details with WikipediaHe has read all three booksHilary Sarah and David are back in the boardroomOne of them will be fired tonightLord Sugar speaksI've had a chance to look through your novels and I gotta say I got a few problems I'd say there's a fair amount of waffle going on I'm a businessman and I can tell you you can't build a business empire on waffle I like things to be plain and simple That's the way I am All this fancy pants stuff is not where I'm coming from This one here Hilary this is yours isn't it A Place of Greater Safety I mean with the best will in the world it's very long there's a lot of words in it I got that it's about the French revolution I did get that far you'll be relieved to know But all that yapping I had problems with thatSarah yours I thought was okay – Fingersmith good title The story zipped along I liked that But you seem to have to drag lesbians into everything and I'm not sure the public particularly wants lesbians all over You don't see market stalls piled high with lesbians do youSarah shakes head looks abashedSo I had a few problems there David yours was very smart all those ten dollar words I could feel your brains throbbin away when I read it but it didn't have much energy You might think that of the three this thousand Autumns of whats his name would appeal to me because the first part is about business and it must have been very interestin to be the first lot of businessmen who made contact with Japan and got a monopoly on all of the import export of a whole country Very interesting That appealed to me I could see the frustrations of having poor auditing and no phones But this thing about that midwife? Nah It was old hat I seen it before a million times It was in South pacific same thing Did you see that musical? David shakes head Well you shoulda seen it before you put pen to paper So that went nowhere fast I must say I came up the hard way and I haven't had the luxury of yearning for Japanese midwives So this was a difficult decision as you know one of you will be leaving the process tonight You've done well to get through to the semi final Don't let anyone take that away from you So hmm Er I have come to a decision You may think you are creatin what do they call it – literature but you still need to get bums on pages to coin a phrase You have to sell to Joe Public and not just to Miss Josephine Public If you get my drift So with regret David Mitchell you're fired Previous rounds split the historical novelists into two teams who would compete on a particular task Previous tasks included describe a day in the life of Genghiz Khan write a mini series for television starting from the premise that when the two maries visited the tomb they discovered the Jesus was a robot run a bookshop for a week using gibbons as shop assistants Week six is the semi final

  8. says:

    Rating two headachey stars out of fiveThe Publisher Says In 1799 Jacob de Zoet disembarks on the tiny island of Dejima the Dutch East India Company’s remotest trading post in a Japan otherwise closed to the outside world A junior clerk his task is to uncover evidence of the previous Chief Resident’s corruptionCold shouldered by his compatriots Jacob earns the trust of a local interpreter and dangerously becomes intrigued by a rare woman—a midwife permitted to study on Dejima under the company physician He cannot foresee how disastrously each will be betrayed by someone they trust nor how intertwined and far reaching the conseuencesDuplicity and integrity love and lust guilt and faith cold murder and strange immortality stalk the stage in this enthralling novel which brings to vivid life the ordinary—and extraordinary—people caught up in a tectonic shift between East and WestMy Review This book is very pleasantly written taken line by line and is an interesting window onto a time I find underexplored De Zoet himself makes me want to scream and Orito is so unlikely a heroine that I found myself snorting a lot I've heard lots of carrying on about how many characters there were in the book but this presented no problem for me not sure whyPerhaps this is a case of overselling a book I don't know I doubt it frankly; I think I'd be chucking it in the charity bin if it was written by Schmoopie de Zoet Jacob's great great grandchild It's too many books manhandled into one It's too much idea for too little room to explore it It's too wrought worked over etched and scrimshawed and chased and gilded and MADE for me to forget I'm reading a book and instead experience a story This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 30 Unported License

  9. says:

    A transient dubious point of intersection with a secluded floating world Two disparate spheres of influence navigating a treacherous turn of the century wherein the actions of either will determine the course of future events A clash of civilizations where all involved parties are unwilling to cede even something as basic as acknowledgement to the other Races laboring under the virulent delusion that skin color predetermines superiority or inferiority Love in the time of prejudice and mutual suspicionAnd a heady Mitchellite cocktail concocted out of these ingredients So pardon me if I rate this 5 stars despite agreeing with the negatives pointed out by several reviewers who considered the book lacking in a central focus Because sometimes a purported fatal flaw in a narrative becomes its very strength The absence of a pivot upon which the entire story hinges made the task of deducing Mitchell's motives behind plotting it this way all the appealing to me What is the purpose of historical fiction anyway? To visualize the bygone through the lenses of acuired knowledge in the intervening time period? To dissect the evil that men have done with the scalpel of reason? To extract the small kernel of eternal truth residing at the heart of every significant event of the past? To establish the sheer timelessness of the bipolarity of human nature that makes the wheel of cause and effect turn and turn? Mitchell has accomplished all of the above with the gift of his unmatched story telling In addition he has managed to break out of the mold of genre tropes altogether by letting the age itself become the core of this tale instead of the eponymous Jacob de Zoet or 'The Land of a Thousand Autumns' Japan It's like Mitchell were opening up a portal in time to give us a glimpse into mankind's cautious toeing of the shifting lines of demarcation between the Orient and the Occident 'Then this'Jacob sweeps his hand inland 'this numinous Orientits bells its dragons its millionsHere notions of transmigrations of karma which are heresies at home possess aa' The Dutchman sneezes'Bless you' Marinus splashes rainwater on his face 'A plausibility?' After sampling three of Mitchell's novels of epic scale and scope there's one thing which I can state with conviction When it comes to his creations it's always a 'sum of its parts' approach that works best in evaluating the true worth of what he writes Good vs Evil checkThe significance of the individual will checkExploration of power and greed checkPolitical intrigue checkSlavery checkRacism checkColonialism checkBritish imperialism checkSubtle criticism of misogyny checkWomen characters who matter checkShips sailors and nautical jargon checkMitchell's love for Japan checkAllusion to the brutal massacre of Indians in America's wild west checkTriumph of passive resistance over the use of force checkPat on the back given to cultural synthesis checkConflict between the rational and the mystical checkMultiple perspectives checkWriting that inspires pure awe checkA mind boggling volume of small details checkToo many things happening at the same time checkAddictive page turner uality checkCleverly inserted connections to previous books view spoilerhello old Boerhaave hide spoiler

  10. says:

    David Mitchell and I had not been introduced before I knew he had written something about clouds and dreams and this looked pretty so I took it home with meIt is a book about Jacob de Zoet who in 1799 arrives as a clerk on Dejima an artificial island near Nagasaki and the only point of contact between Japan and the outside world It is also a book about an English ship and a mountain shrine and secret religious cult It is a book about Orito Japanese midwife whose face is half burnt but the book's most noble characters seem to fall in love with despite that This book is about so many things in so many different ways that it is rather hard to write anything coherent about the plot Mitchell has one hell of imagination and patience for research and I was left in awe “The Ten Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” is tour de force and unlike the blurb writers I don’t use this term lightly Writing this novel must’ve been a massive undertaking but I am not sure regular human beings like you and me can keep up with Mitchell as he jumps around like a flea The opening chapter blew me away and the first part of the book promised a solid historical novel Then everything was turned around and we found ourselves in a Japanese shrine taken out straight from an airport bookshop bestseller It was mysterious and romantic and a little bit silly I thought “David really? I know that authors think they can get away with just about anything in the middle of the book but don’t you think you are pushing your luck a little bit here?” David took my advice and abandoned the shrine plotline halfway through and took us back to Jacob de Zoet just when we forgot he was supposed to be the main character and stopped caring about him altogether After an episode on an English ship starring a captain suffering from gout we get to the epilogue with Jacob de Zoet as though Mitchell was convinced we needed a closure As far as epilogues go this one was as unnecessary as the epilogue in the last Harry Potter book I really don’t know what to make out of this book It read easily even if Mitchell has the most bizarre writing style ever Oh boy does he love his suspension points They are everywhere Sometimes to say that many things happen at once she looked outside the window As if we didn’t know that many things can happen at once the washing machine started the spinning cycle And on page 383 Mitchell uses suspension points 21 times My flatmate’s alarm went off but he is still sleepingThere was just too much of everything in this book and in the end it seems that all these things have cancelled each other out Just what was I supposed to get out of this novel? What point if any was it trying to make?Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy it at times I enjoyed it a lot even the airport paperback bits but I think Mitchell’s imagination can be put to a much better use Someone flushed the toilet

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