Monday 16 December 2019

Book Review: No Longer Human by Dazai Osamu (Modern Classics)

Title: No Longer Human
Author: Dazai Osamu

Publication Date: 1981 (1948)
Modern Classics
Bought Copy


No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku) is the story of a young man caught between the disintegration of the traditions of his aristocratic provincial family and the impact of modern Western ideas. Largely autobiographical, No Longer Human explores Dazai's feeling of being "disqualified from being human" (the literal translation of the original title) - a sense of loss and anomie that remains strong even today among those who struggle to reconcile their attachments to tradition with the necessities of living in a global economy.

I had never heard of Dazai Osamu until about a week ago when I started to watch the anime Bungo Stray Dogs. It made me interested to read the works of some of these key Japanese authors, and the first one I picked up was No Longer Human by Dazai. I went with it because I had seen Dazai called the Japanese Dostoevsky, and I think that is a far comparison. No Longer Human captured my interest right from the start and I devoured the 177 pages in a single sitting. The prose is beautiful yet succinct, and I really identified with Yozo. Dazai's protrayal of his thought processes is masterful. I truly felt I got inside Yozo's head and understood him. I am definitely keen to read more of Dazai's works in the future.

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