I haven’t read any of Nagai Kafu’s 1917 novel Rivalry: A Geisha’s Tale (new in paperback from Columbia University Press in translation from Stephen Snyder) because my wife immediately took it and started reading it. I think she’s almost finished with it. I can only assume it involves some kind of rivalry, probably between geisha. I’ll ask her (the following is a more or less an accurate transcription of wife’s comments to me from the kitchen as she prepared some kind of corn salad):
Um, it’s about this geisha, who, when she was like 17, 18 became a geisha, then got married and moved out to the country, this is like in her early 20s, and after a couple of years her husband died, so she went back to Tokyo back to her old geisha house and ran into one of her former, um, clients, and he fell in love with her like immediately so they started a relationship but she fell in love with an actor, but then, I’m not finished with it, but the client found out about the affair, so he’s going to patronize this rival geisha. Which I guess is why, Rivalry.
Do you like it?
I mean, it’s what you’d expect from a geisha book, I mean it’s about a geisha. It’s a good geisha story.
My wife reports she’s about half way through it and wants to find out how it will end.