Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
An Artist of the Floating World: Introduction
An Artist of the Floating World: Plot Summary
An Artist of the Floating World: Detailed Summary & Analysis
An Artist of the Floating World: Themes
An Artist of the Floating World: Quotes
An Artist of the Floating World: Characters
An Artist of the Floating World: Symbols
An Artist of the Floating World: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Kazuo Ishiguro
Historical Context of An Artist of the Floating World
Other Books Related to An Artist of the Floating World
- Full Title: An Artist of the Floating World
- When Written: 1980s
- Where Written: England
- When Published: 1986
- Literary Period: Post-Postmodern Literature; Realism; New Sincerity. An Artist of the Floating World employs the clear, dispassionate descriptions of middle-class life that characterize realist texts, but depicts a world in which any idea of truth is undermined by the shifting nature of memory and popular understandings of history. In this way it combines the language of realism with the fractured picture of reality typical of postmodern texts. The novel does not have the cynicism often associated with Postmodern novels and for this reason, can be seen to combine elements of Postmodernism with an earnest desire to depict life as it really is, which is characteristic of realism. Texts that combine these characteristics have sometimes been grouped together under the rubric the “New Sincerity.”
- Genre: Realist Fiction
- Setting: An unnamed city in Japan in the years following the end of the Second World War.
- Climax: At Noriko’s miai, Ono tells the Saitos that he admits making mistakes in his career.
- Antagonist: Pride; Nationalism
- Point of View: First-person
Extra Credit for An Artist of the Floating World
Reluctant Representative. Because Ishiguro left Japan at the age of five and did not live through the events he describes, he has expressed discomfort with the use of his novels as source texts for understanding post-war Japanese experience. Instead, he sees works like An Artist of the Floating World as works set in post-war Japan that tackle universal themes.
Dylan as Literature. Ishiguro has said he would not be a writer if he hadn’t discovered the lyrics of folk singer Bob Dylan when he was a teenager. Despite being a musician, not a poet or novelist, Dylan controversially won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, one year before Ishiguro.