"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Osamu Dazai's "Schoolgirl"

Whenever i put pen on to a paper or I type words I think of Osamu Dazai.   The craft of his writing with the mixture of his character equals a major influence on me, and I suspect on contemporary Japanese literature as well.  For instance, Mishima's major influence was Dazai.  Well, sort of.  He didn't want to be a Dazai, in fact, he hated his work.   But the truth is hatred of Dazai's character and work was a sign of love and respect to the great decadent literary figure - and Dazai was extremely decadent in the Japanese context.   Drinker, womanizer, cad, drug addict, and extremely handsome - and a writing talent that is extremely superb.  Dazai is one unique writer, and a day doesn't go by where I don't think about him.  Hmm, perhaps this is really an obsession on my part, but let's put that aside for the moment.

"Schoolgirl" is a snapshot of the day in the life of a young girl, with her inner thoughts, her 'childish' impressions mixed in with great awareness of her world.   It reads like a narrative poem, with some quiet beautiful moments, but with a 'punk' attitude.  Well, punk attitude in 1939 Tokyo!  You can smell the coming disaster in these pages, and they a writer/poet can smell the culture as it happens - and Dazai is one of those writers who for sure knew how the wind was blowing at the time of his writings.  This small book is under a 100 pages, but it hits hard like a heavyweight fighter.  One of the great writers of the 20th Century, and "Schoolgirl" is small in size, but huge as a classic piece of literature.

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