Losing face and the public humiliation associated with it is something that we all dread but, in Kobo Abe’s 1964 fantasy “The Face of Another,” the metaphorical term is made reality when a scientist scars his face in an experiment and has to wander around with a face bound in bandages. In doing so, he finds a newfound respect for other social groups that are shunned for the sake of appearance only.

He conceives the idea of reconstructing a new face, not his own. He poses several questions: If you were to adopt the face of another human being, how would that change your own inner identity? Whose face would you chose to overlay upon your own? The scientist soon discovers that donning a mask offers both liberation and imprisonment and that the mask assumes a life of its own.

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