Mailing List

Monday, February 5, 2024

No Longer HumanNo Longer Human by Osamu Dazai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came upon this book by a really weird route. Believe it or not, my daughter was watching an anime named Bungo Stray Dogs and turned me on to it. When I was getting into it, some of the names made my ears perk up. There was Poe, Melville, Dostoyevski. After looking up the list of all the character names, I discover that ALL of the characters are authors or poets, but most are Japanese. Indeed, one of the most important characters IS Osamu Dazai.

Blown mind.

So, of course, being the nerd I am, I'm reading those authors I don't already know, namely, the Japanese MCs.

Fast forward:

This is one hell of a great book. It is written very well, fascinatingly so. Published in 1948, Dazai's style reminds me a LOT of Kafka. The themes of faking it till you make it as a human, the utter disgust with himself, the deep, unexpressed depression, is damn sharp.

Indeed, the feeling of being a social outcast, of not GETTING all your peers, of never being quite REAL is very recognizable. Indeed, the slow decline, the inability to do what is normally expected of you, the staying awake all night simply hating yourself is very much a depressive state.

Feeling unfit for society, of losing himself in so-called pleasures, drinking, prostitutes, and later, hard drugs, is pretty much the capstone on the fundamental mis-match he made as a human with society, itself.

The fact that I recognize all these fundamental things in myself is just an example of the brilliance of the writing.

Now let me circle back around to the anime. I laughed my ass off when I recognized that the anime was pulling from events of this novel right into itself. That author obviously takes a lot from his favorite works and twists them into some pretty cool magics and settings. A bout with the communist party in No Longer Human ties to the Port Mafia, all the flirting with self-hate and death is nearly interchangeable with the MC. I'm not far enough in the anime yet, but I can't wait to see how badly the romance will go.

I can thank my daughter for accidentally turning me on to this Japanese classic.

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment