Memoirs of a Geisha (novel)
Memoirs of a Geisha is a 1999 novel about Sayuri, a Geisha working in Kyoto before and after World War II. It is a glimpse of Japanese high society and culture at a unique point in its history. Sayuri is a young, impoverished girl who rises to become one of the most famous geisha in Japan and ultimately attains personal fulfillment. Written by Arthur Golden.
Narrator (Sayuri as an elderly woman)
- I felt as a bird must feel when it has flown across the ocean and comes upon a creature that knows its nest.
- We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.
- Being sent out into the world isn't necessarily the same as leaving your home behind you.
- Dreams can be such dangerous things; they smolder on like a fire does, and sometimes consume us completely.
- Occasionally in life we come upon things we can't understand because we have never seen anything similar.
- If you have experienced an evening more exciting than any in life, you're sad to see it end, and yet you still feel grateful that it happened.
- I felt as a simple smelt must feel when a silver salmon glides by.
- I felt as the waves of the ocean must feel when clouds have blocked the warmth of the sun.
- Everything around me seemed to grow so quiet, as if he were the wind that blew and I were just a cloud carries upon it.
- He was like a song I'd heard once in fragments but had been singing in my mind ever since.
- (Of Hatsumomo) She was like a fabric taken from its warm closet and hung out of doors where the harsh weather will gradually consume it.
- A tree may look as beautiful as ever, but when you notice insects infesting it, and the tips of the branches that are brown from disease even the trunk seems to lose some of its magnificence.
- If you'd asked me why I wanted these things, I would have answered, why does a ripe persimmon taste delicious? Why does wood smell smoky when it burns?
- I don't think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it.
- A winter scene, though it may be covered over one day, with even trees dressed in shawls of snow, will be unrecognizable the following spring.
- Now I understood the thing I´d overlooked;the point wasn´t to become a geisha but to be one. To become a geisha . . . well, that was hardly a purpose in life. But to be a geisha . . . I could see it now as a stepping-stone to something else.
- Some people have difficulty telling the difference between something great and something they’ve simply heard of.
- Water never waits. It changes shape and flows around things, and finds the secret paths no one else has thought about.
- We don't become geisha because we want our lives to be happy; we become geisha because we have no choice.
- You can't pretend you have no influence at all. It's your duty to use what influence you have, unless you want to drift through life like a fish belly-up on the stream.
Admiral Yamamato Isoroku
- I never seek to defeat the man I'm fighting, I seek to defeat his confidence. A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory. Two men are equals -true equals- only when they both have equal confidence.