It is not surprising that readers, even if they are devout fans of Kōbō Abe, don’t take to The Face of Another in the same manner as The Woman in the Dunes or some of his other novels. It may be because of the uncomfortable feeling a reader gets being stuck in the narrator’s head for an entire novel (much like Camus’ The Stranger). The story is built on the premise of a wife finding her husband’s notebooks which are filled with solipsistic meanderings, repeated excursuses, counter-arguments directed at her, and endless musings about identity and self. But you can forgive the man — after all, he’s had his face horribly scarred and burned in a laboratory fire. He is isolated and alone, even from his wife. But he has a plan, a carefully schemed revenge, and it starts with getting a new face. Thus, Abe takes us into fascinating exploration of identity and self.
The scientist, who is as scarred psychologically as physically, has it in for his wife. Continue reading