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The local villagers offer to put him up in one of houses in the sand holes for the night, where an obliging widow will look after him. With no other options, he accepts their offer, and climbs down a rope ladder to the bottom of a deep pit, where he meets the widow, who proves to be a friendly if reticent hostess, and is invited to stay in her fragile, poorly furnished home.

The next day, the rope ladder is missing, and the teacher realizes that the villagers have no intention of letting him leave. He is expected to help the widow in the endless task of removing the sand that accumulates endlessly in holes where the locals live. The woman, for her part, welcomes his company and assistance, and shows no interest in helping him escape or in leaving herself.

The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

When he refuses to assist in the sand removal and other household chores, the villagers respond by cutting off the supply of water. In time, Jumpei is forced to work and comply, at least superficially, with the demands put on him—yet he continues to plot methods of breaking out of his buried prison cell. The whole setting is pervaded with a sick surrealism, yet Abe imposes on this nightmare an unflagging rationalism, even a scientific attitude. In a path atypical for a writer, Abe showed an early interest in mathematics, and later pursued studies in medicine.

He eventually received a degree in medicine from Tokyo Imperial University, but reportedly did so poorly in his studies that he was allowed to graduate only if he promised never to take a job as a doctor. Instead he focused on writing, but his interest in science continued to find an outlet in his insect collecting. In The Women in the Dunes , Abe repeatedly adopts a clinical perspective more commonly found in a laboratory than a modern novel.

His protagonist analyzes the properties of the sand, constructs hypothesizes, builds apparatuses, designs experiments. Yet rather than undermining the Kafkaesque qualities of the story, this attention to logic and detail reinforces the claustrophobia and loneliness of the novel. Here is the ugly flip side of Cartesian rationality: the scientific method as a source of isolation. I think, therefore I am cut asunder. One can construct other approaches to this novel.

Yet no single interpretation does justice to this rich work. At times an The Woman in the Dunes. The Woman in the Dunes , by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense and the existential novel.

MOVIE REVIEW : Deception in ‘Woman in the Dunes’

After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seashore, an amateur entomologist is offered lodging for the night at the bottom of a vast sand pit. But when he attempts to leave the next morning, he quickly discovers that the locals have other plans.

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