Monday 24 May 2021

Book Review: Schoolgirl by Dazai Osamu (Modern Classic)

Title: Schoolgirl
Author: Dazai Osamu
Publisher: One Peace Books
Publication Date: 2011 (1939)
Genre: Modern Classics
Source: Bought Copy

The novella that first propelled Dazai into the literary elite of post-war Japan. Essentially the start of Dazai's career, Schoolgirl gained notoriety for its ironic and inventive use of language. Now it illuminates the prevalent social structures of a lost time, as well as the struggle of the individual against them--a theme that occupied Dazai's life both personally and professionally. This new translation preserves the playful language of the original and offers the reader a new window into the mind of one of the greatest Japanese authors of the 20th century.


Dazai Osamu is such an amazing writer. As with pretty much all his works, you can see many of his own thoughts and feelings in Schoolgirl, even though the protagonist is a teenage girl. This stream-of-consciousness piece takes place over the course of a single day in which the girl tries to comprehend her existence. At fewer than 100 pages, it's a quick read--I finished it in 40 mins, including the Introduction--but that doesn't mean it doesn't pack quite the punch, both in terms of emotional impact and literary flair. If you haven't read Dazai before, Schoolgirl might be a nice place to start, before moving on to No Longer Human. I still have more Dazai books to track down and read, and I can't wait to get to them!

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