The Exemplary Sentence

Sentence DiagramForty years ago or so, I saw the Japanese film, Woman in the Dunes. It made a vivid impression on me, and the other day, I happened on the novel it was made from, by Kobo Abe. Here is a section from the opening chapters of the novel, translated by E. Dale Saunders. The man is wandering through the dunes, searching for insects:

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“The barrenness of sand, as it is usually pictured, was not caused by simple dryness, but apparently was due to the ceaseless movement that made it inhospitable to all living things. What a difference compared with the dreary way human beings clung together year in and year out.

“Certainly sand was not suitable for life. Yet, was a stationary condition absolutely indispensable for existence? Didn’t unpleasant competition arise precisely because one tried to cling to a fixed position? If one were to give up a fixed position and abandon oneself to the movement of the sands, competition would soon stop…

“While he mused on the effect of the flowing sands, he was seized from time to time by hallucinations in which he himself began to move with the flow.”

Woman in hte dunesOf course the man, always unnamed, soon has ample time to reflect on all aspects of sand. I found the novel excruciating! But I still remember the beautiful black and white images of the movie.