Osamu Dazai's 5 recommended works - a masterpiece for beginners in reading!

Dazai Recommended Yukio Mishima and Japanese Literature

Osamu Dazai's 5 recommended works - a masterpiece for beginners in reading!

Osamu Dazai (1909-1948)Wikipedia.

Dazai Osamu(1909-1948)
Born in Kanagi-mura, Aomori Prefecture (now Kanagi-machi, Goshogawara City). His real name is Shuji Tsushima. He dropped out of the Department of French Literature at the University of Tokyo. While in school, became involved in an illegal movement, but dropped out. In 1935, "Gyakkou" won the second prize of the first Akutagawa Prize, and the following year, his first collection of works, "Late Years," was published. In 1939, he married Michiko Ishihara under the care of Masuji Ibushi and wrote many fine works, including "Fugaku hyakkei" (One hundred views of Mt. Fuji). After the war, he became a popular writer with works such as "Shayo" (The Setting Sun), but left "Ningen Shikkaku" (Human Disqualification) and committed suicide by drowning in the Tamagawa-josui River with Tomiei Yamazaki.

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So far in this blog, we have introduced Yukio Mishima's works, and now we are finally entering Osamu Dazai's works.

It was precisely the influence of Yukio Mishima that made me decide to read Osamu Dazai at this time.

I have become completely absorbed in the literature of Yukio Mishima, who said in one of his essays

I don't like Dazai's literature.(in Japanese history)Yukio MishimaThe Sun, Iron, and My Pilgrim's Progress.(more)

In one of the commentaries on Mishima's works, Osamu Dazai was described as being the literary opposite of Yukio Mishima.

For me, as I want to learn more about Yukio Mishima, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn even more about Mishima by getting to know his opposite. This is similar to learning about Tolstoy and Turgenev in learning about Dostoevsky.

So I finally decided to give Osamu Dazai's works a try.

Speaking of Osamu Dazai, I remember reading "Running Meros" in class, probably in a junior high school textbook. In other words, I have not read Dazai since then.

How is Dazai's literature the opposite of Yukio Mishima's literature? This is why I started reading Dazai's works.

So let's get started.

Running Meros

Run, Meros!

Osamu Dazai's "Running Meros" is a well-known masterpiece among masterpieces. It is also familiar in school textbooks.

However, after I left school, I had few opportunities to read Dazai's works as an adult. As I said, I finally picked up Dazai's works at the age of 33 as part of the process of learning about Yukio Mishima.

Now, the story begins with Melos, who is sentenced to execution for standing up to a tyrant who oppresses his people, but who promises to return within three days with his best friend in his place. Why three days? It was to perform the wedding ceremony of his beloved sister. Melos is a good man. He is a man who works for the good of others rather than himself. (Though it was unfortunate that his best friend had to take his place.)

Now, having safely performed his sister's wedding, Melos hurries home to save his best friend in his place. However, Melos had no luck! The bridge collapsed due to heavy rain, and he was even attacked by bandits, and as expected, the hero Melos collapsed. All is lost. The promise is no longer kept...

But "suddenly an ear,murmuringly (of a river, etc.)great number ofHe hears "the sound of running water" and Melos comes back to life. His body at the limit of its strength and his weakened mind are roused and he begins to run. Run, Melos, run to save your friends! Run to save your friends!

This is a rough outline of the process. I am sure you will all remember some of it.

This work is still very moving even after reading it as an adult.

Running Meros" is indeed a cheerful work. However, when I think of Dazai's later life, I feel sadness at the brightness of the work. Because the idealistic worldview of "Run, Melos" is so beautiful, I feel that Dazai's downfall is foreseen in it.

Maybe this is the kind of thing that we feel more as we grow older and learn more about the many things in life. You will feel what this bright masterpiece throws at you after knowing the sour and sweet sides of life. This is truly a luxurious reading experience. Perhaps it is because you are an adult that you can enjoy "Running Meros.

In addition, "Running Meros" in the Shincho-Bunko collection also includes two other famous short stories, "Fugaku Hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji)" and "Rushin Komei (Running-in Complaint)". These two works are also introduced here.

Fugaku hyakkei (One hundred views of Mt. Fugaku)

Fugaku hyakkei (One hundred views of Mt. Fuji)" was published in the second and third issues of "Buntai" in 1939. It depicts a period in which he desperately tried to rebuild himself by staying at a teahouse on the Misaka Pass in Koshu, relying on Ibushi Masuji. This is his first work after his marriage to his wife, and it is filled with the spirit of a fresh start. The brief, dry style of the first sentence, "The angle at the top of Mt. Fuji is 85 degrees in Hiroshige's Fuji," is pleasing, and the author depicts a mental landscape of the severe confrontation between nature and man, creating holes of shame amid the tension. Fuji" is a rare masterpiece in Japanese literature, and a line from the text, "Fuji is well suited to moonflowers," is inscribed on a literary monument at Misaka Pass.

Shinchosha, Osamu Dazai, Running Meros, p. 290-291

This work strongly reflects Osamu Dazai's real-life experiences. It is a story of the time when he was confined to Tenka-jaya in the Koshu Misaka Pass, trying to recover from the shock of being forced into a mental institution after losing his health.

Therefore, this story does not tell of the catastrophic events that are synonymous with Dazai. However, Dazai's delicate confession and will to recover are clearly conveyed in this story.

They called me "sir. I took it seriously. I had nothing to be proud of. I had no education. No talent. My body is dirty and my heart is bad. But I have gone through enough suffering to accept the young men who called me "teacher. That is all. I am proud of myself as if I were a piece of straw. But I want to keep this pride. How many of you have known my behind-the-scenes suffering, which I have been called like a selfish spoiled child?

Shinchosha, Osamu Dazai, Running Meros, p. 62-63

This confession must have been exactly what Dazai was feeling at the time.

This film beautifully depicts a man trying to rise from such ruin and the beautiful Mt.

I had never heard of this work until I picked up this book, but I think it was a very good first encounter with Dazai's work. I could vividly feel the difference between Dazai's and Mishima's writing styles.

It is also very easy to read, with only about 30 pages.

As an introduction to Dazai, this work may be an apt one.

"Running Into the Lawsuit."

The "Running-in Complaint" was published in the February 1940 issue of Chuo Koron (Chuo Koron: Chuokoron). According to Mrs. Kikkawa, she dictated it without hesitation and all at once. It was nothing short of genius. I will say this. I will tell you. I'll tell you, sir. That man is terrible. I can't help but imagine the passionate performance of Nakamura Kichiemon the Younger in his breathless tone of voice. The author was at the height of his vigor when he wrote this masterpiece, and the powerful, forceful style of his writing seems to have revealed all of his long-held feelings at once.

Shinchosha, Osamu Dazai, Running Meros, p. 291-292

This story is called "I say. I say. Sir. That man is terrible. He is terrible." The story begins with the very "run-in complaint". Who is suing what? That is exactly what happened in the famous biblical story of Judas selling Jesus Christ.

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last SupperWikipedia.

Judas' betrayal is also a motif in Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting, The Last Supper. At the Last Supper, Jesus predicts that "one of the twelve apostles will betray me," which is depicted in this painting as a scene of great panic.

The traitor is Judas, and this work, "Rush-in Suit," is Dazai's depiction of how Judas committed treachery.

Judas is weak. Incredibly weak.

But he is not merely weak, he possesses the logic, torment, and pride of the weak. This pride and torment of the weak are Dazai's strong points. Dazai possesses Judas and continues to make appeals that can be seen as accusations or self-destruction. The momentum of his appeal does not abate at all. It is too intense.

It is a short work of about 20 pages, but it is extraordinary in its density. In these 20 pages, Judas, the traitor, talks and talks and talks. This is a terrific work.


setting sun

Shayo" is Osamu Dazai's masterpiece, and has become such a social phenomenon that the term "Shayozoku" was coined to describe young people who are fascinated by his works.

This work is the culmination of Osamu Dazai's work, and each of the four main characters is entrusted with great feelings and tells a story.

As the book "Bungo Navi: Osamu Dazai" says, "'Shayo' depicts the postwar downfall of people who were wealthy before the war, but there is a palpable sense of emotion at the sight of their beautiful demise.

In addition, the commentary at the end of this book also includes a commentary on Chekhov, the great Russian writer.The Cherry OrchardIt was pointed out that the story is closely related to the story of the "Kozuko" and her mother, and this is exactly true. In particular, the story of Kazuko, one of the main characters, and her mother is filled with the sorrow of a fallen aristocrat.

However, for me, this novel was very interesting to read not so much because it is Dazai's masterpiece or because of his relationship with Chekhov, but because of his association with Yukio Mishima.

This work is also very interesting in comparing the two extreme writers, Osamu Dazai and Yukio Mishima.

Human Disqualification."

disregard for humanity

In a sense, this work may be considered Osamu Dazai's last will and testament. After finishing this work, Dazai committed suicide by throwing himself into the Tamagawa-josui River in the middle of writing "Good Bye. This "Ningen Shikkaku" depicts the life of anguish and ruin that Dazai had been carrying around all his life. There is no doubt that this is a problematic work that will shake us readers.

Osamu Dazai leads a tremendous life. He is addicted not only to alcohol but also to drugs and, as in "Ningen Shikkaku," to women. He is a ruin itself. And the fact that he was forcibly committed to a mental institution is also spectacular. He thought he was sane, but people around him treated him like a madman. This awareness that she is a forsaken existence by ordinary people leads her to "Ningen Shikkaku".

Dazai's writing has a unique magic that makes each reader think "This is me! Dazai's writing has a unique magic that makes each reader think, "This is me! Young people who sympathized with the naïve nature of the protagonist became fascinated with Dazai's literature. The term "Shayozoku" was coined to describe these young people.

Among Dazai's works, "Ningen Shikkaku" is one of the most magically powerful works. As mentioned in the commentary above, although there are some flaws in this work, it represents Dazai's ultimate state of mind just before he committed suicide, and this work, in which he expressed his feelings over a period of 12 years, is very real.

Ningen Shikkaku is a masterpiece that can be read in many different ways. I read it from the perspective of Mishima and Dostoevsky, but it is a masterpiece among masterpieces that still attracts many people today. Why not pick up a copy?


In this article, we have recommended some of Osamu Dazai's works.

The works included in the first "Running Melos" are short stories recommended for beginners in reading. We can confidently recommend these works to those who want to try reading but do not know what to read.

And there is no doubt that "Shayo" and "Ningen Shikkaku" are some of the greatest works in the history of Japanese literature. However, it is also true that there are differences in taste. In fact, Osamu Dazai and Yukio Mishima are said to be polar opposites, and their styles are quite distinct. However, Osamu Dazai has a terrifying inspirational power, as evidenced by the large number of young people who have emerged as "Shayo-zoku. Dazai's literature is surprisingly addictive to those who are addicted to it.

So, if you find Dazai literature to be a bit of a weakness, there is no need to worry about it. It just means that it did not suit you. For those who are not so fond of Dazai's literature, I would like to recommend that you try reading Yukio Mishima, who is the exact opposite of Dazai.

And if that doesn't work?

Read middle-of-the-road writers who are far from the extremes and all will be well. I strongly recommend Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

The following article introduces such recommended works by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

Next Article.

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