Thursday, April 13, 2006

Liza Dalby Lecture at DMA

Dreaming of Genji at Ishiyamadera templeJust received word that Liza Dalby will lecture at the Dallas Museum of Art on May 12! Together with Arthur Golden, they'll be talking about the their experiences as consultants for the film, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Our Ms. Dalby is a Stanford Ph.D in anthropology and is the only non-Japanese woman to have ever worked as a real geisha. Her book Geisha is a highly detailed and sensitive account of her year as "Ichigiku" in the famous geisha enclave of Pontocho, Kyoto. Highly recommended.

Ms. Dalby also wrote Kimono - Fashioning Culture, considered by many (non-Japanese) to be the bible when it comes to deciphering the many layers of meaning inherent in the national dress of Japan. If you have any interest in kimono at all, this is an absolute must-have for the bookshelf.

Our Ms. Dalby's talents as a writer aren't confined to mere academics (and I mean that ironically) - she also authored The Tale of Murasaki, a fabulous historical-fiction riff based on the Tale of Genji, except that it's written from the point of view of Genji's creator, Lady Murasaki. Well written and enjoyable, The Tale of Murasaki brings the elegant, rarefied world of classical 10th century Heian Japan vividly to life.

I've long admired Ms. Dalby, who admits in Geisha that she once blackened her teeth in the style of 10th century Heian noblewomen, just to see what it was like. I had also considered trying ohaguro, lacquered teeth, until I read her book and decided doing so would smack too much of copy-cat-ism. I am just so thrilled she's coming to Dallas and I will gladly lay down the $30 ticket price for the lecture! Afterwards, a reception and book-signing will be held at the Trammell Crow Collection of Asian Art. I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the attention will be on darling Arthur Golden, the author of Memoirs of a Geisha - so hopefully I can engineer some quality face-time with Ms. Dalby! My only dilemma now is, which book do I drag along to the event in order to get her autograph?


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