An Artist of the Floating World

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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Lanterns Symbol Icon

Lanterns in the novel are associated with Ono’s teacher Mori-san, who includes a lantern in each of his paintings and dedicates himself to trying to capture the look of lantern light. For Mori-san, the flickering, easily extinguished quality of lantern light symbolizes the transience of beauty and the importance of giving careful attention to small moments and details in the physical world. Lanterns, then, symbolize an outlook on life which prizes small details and everyday moments above the ideological concerns of nationalists or commercial concerns of businesspeople. It is an old-fashioned, aesthetically focused, and more traditional way of viewing the world.

Lanterns Quotes in An Artist of the Floating World

The An Artist of the Floating World quotes below all refer to the symbol of Lanterns. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of An Artist of the Floating World published in 1986.
October 1948 Quotes

"We took him once to the cinema to see an American cowboy film. He's been very fond of cowboys ever since. We even had to buy him a ten-gallon hat. He’s convinced cowboys make that funny sound he does. It must have seemed very strange.”

“So that’s what it was,” I said with a laugh. “My grandson’s become a cowboy.”

Down in the garden, a breeze was making the foliage sway.

Noriko was crouching down by the old stone lantern near the back wall, pointing something out to Ichiro.

“Still,” I said, with a sigh, “only a few years ago, Ichiro wouldn't have been allowed to see such a thing as a cowboy film.”

Setsuko, without turning from the garden, said: “Suichi believes it's better he likes cowboys than that he idolize people like Miyamoto Musashi. Suichi thinks the American heroes are the better models for children now.”

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Noriko, Suichi , Ichiro
Related Symbols: Lanterns, Gardens
Page Number: 35-36
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lanterns Symbol Timeline in An Artist of the Floating World

The timeline below shows where the symbol Lanterns appears in An Artist of the Floating World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
November 1949
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
...and using subdued tones. Mori-san sought to capture a melancholy, nocturnal atmosphere and often included lanterns in his paintings. The Tortoise thought that merely by including a lantern in his painting... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...and Mori-san go to the pavilion at Takami Gardens, which is elegantly decorated with hanging lanterns. In later years that pavilion remains a favorite spot of Ono’s, until it is destroyed... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
On the night he visits the pavilion with Mori-san, the lanterns are unlit when they arrive, so Mori-san asks Ono to light them. Mori-san asks Ono... (full context)