Kamikaze Mozart [II]

[Updated and augmented, May 31, 2009]

The novel Kamikaze Mozart interests me greatly for several reasons, most of which are superficial but nevertheless persistent.  (Perhaps this description holds in many respects to my own approach as well.)    These reasons include extended discussion of Japanese classical musicans during the Second World War, a wonderfully intriguing topic.  It encompasses cultural exchanges, the life of the musican, racial politics in California, war weariness in Japan, and the relative cultural dynamism and magnatism in the 1930s and 1940s of Germany and the U.S., respectively, for talented young Japanese.  It also bespeaks of the strong role played by German-speaking musicians in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s in garnering respect for German culture if not the Reich itself.

Perhaps the time has come for a comprehensive history of the musical diplomacy extended by Germany to Japan, and vice versa.  The only names that come to mind are Friedrich Spotts (not an Asianist, and more concerned with painting), Pamela Potter (musicologist of German wartime musicologists) and Indiana University’s incomparable Jane Fulcher (Francophone musicologist).

And thus it is left for movie-makers and authors of historical fiction to leave us to tie together these significant and politically useful connections.  But this novel is the story, foremost, of individuals with conflicting feelings, ennui, lonliness, ardor, discipline, and truth in their hearts.

And thus Daniel de Roulet’s novel begins.  Fumika, the heroine, is introduced by way of her “ferne Geliebte [the distant beloved]” romantic interest, Wolfgang, the violinist. Here is my rendering of page one, with the original first paragraph as a bonus:

Depuis qu’elle q rencontré Wolfgang, Fumika ne peut plus se l’arracher du coeur.  Dans le dortoir des étudiants; elle ouvre son miroir de poche.  Au réveil; son oeil droit reste plus bridé que le gauche.  Toi, Fumika, se dit-elle; tu es trop seule.  La Californie et son Berkeley ne te réussissent pas.  Tu aurais besoin d’un grand amour, mais partager.

[From the time she met Wolfgang , Fumika could no longer dig out her heart.  In the student dormitory, she opened her pocket mirror.  When she awoke, her eyes immediately turned to rest on her left.  You, Fumika, they told her, you are too alone.  This California, and its Berkeley, cannot make you successful.  You  will have the need for a great love, but parted.

Later in the morning, she concentrated on her exercises at the piano.  One half-hour of scales, then five pages from the green workbook, after that, a piece to limber up the phalanges.  She looked again in the mirror: the equalibrium between the two eyes was rehabilitated, the reflection erasing Wolfgang’s smile.]

Then more on San Francisco and its vastness…apologies for flaws in the translation, please comment if you have a suggestion to make here.

NOTE [May 31, 2009]: The author’s blog, while rather sparse with only two entries, is nonetheless extremely helpful, and includes a list of historical sources used for the book.  I very much appreciate the superstructure of how this was done!  It is reminiscent of the little remnants of scaffolding in the stone vault of Amiens Cathedral:

jeudi 16 août 2007

Les sources historiques de Kamikaze Mozart

Par Daniel de Roulet le jeudi 16 août 2007, 11:08

Kamikaze Mozart est un roman. Il s’appuie sur des faits réels dont j’ai retrouvé la trace dans d’autres livres ou grâce à la mémoire des survivants.

Ouvrages généraux consultés :

  • Laura Fermi, Atomes en famille, Gallimard, 1955
  • Everett M. Rogers, Silent voices of WWII, Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, 2005
  • Jean-Jacques Antier, L’aventure kamikaze, Presses de la Cité, 1986
  • Josehp Kanon, Los Alamos, Dell, 1995
  • Richard Rhodes, The making of the atomic bomb, Viking, 1986
  • Richard P. Feynman, Qu’en pensez-vous, Monsieur Feynman, Dunod, 2006
  • Ruth Lewin Sime, Lise Meitner, a life in physics, University of California Press, 1996
  • Michel Rival, Robert Oppenheimer, Flammarion, 1995
  • Polenberg, Richard, Ed., In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer : The Security Clearance Hearing, Cornell University Press, Ithica, NY, 2002.
  • Marcel Junod, Le désastre de Hiroshima, Labor et Fides, 2005
  • Richard Conrat, Executive order 9066, University of California Press, 1992
  • Jeffrey F. Burton, Confinement and ethnicity, University of Wahington Press, 1999
  • Kenzaburô Ôé, Notes de Hiroshima, Gallimard, 1996

Sur des faits particuliers :

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