Monday 17 April 2023

Book Review: The Flowers of Buffoonery by Dazai Osamu (Modern Classic)

Title: The Flowers of Buffoonery
Author: Dazai Osamu
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: 2023 (1935)
Pages: 96
Format: Paperback
Genre: Modern Classics
Source: Bought Copy

The Flowers of Buffoonery opens in a seaside sanitarium where Yozo Oba—the narrator of No Longer Human at a younger age—is being kept after a failed suicide attempt. While he convalesces, his friends and family visit him, and other patients and nurses drift in and out of his room. Against this dispiriting backdrop, everyone tries to maintain a lighthearted, even clownish atmosphere: playing cards, smoking cigarettes, vying for attention, cracking jokes, and trying to make each other laugh. 

No Longer Human delves into the darkest corners of human consciousness, The Flowers of Buffoonery pokes fun at these same emotions: the follies and hardships of youth, of love, and of self-hatred and depression. A glimpse of the lives of a group of outsiders in prewar Japan, The Flowers of Buffoonery is a darkly humorous and fresh addition to Osamu Dazai’s masterful and intoxicating oeuvre.


The Flowers of Buffoonery was written many years before No Longer Human, and it certainly lacks the psychological depth of its sequel. However, it was still enjoyable in its own way as a quick, witty piece with amusing author asides and a lot of dark humour. At just 96 pages, it's an easy single-nights read and the prose is light and simple. All up, if you are already a Dazai fan then it's definitely worth a read and it would be a gentle introduction for those new to his writing too. It gets 4.5 stars from me.

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