One of the most bracing and clear-eyed mediations on alienation and depression ever written, No Longer Human, follows Ōba Yōzō (a loose stand in for Dazai himself) through his life, from young boy to adult, as he tries and fails repeatedly to in some way exist within a society he feels unable to connect to. Lacking the self-pity that would have marred lesser works, No Longer Human is an unflinching yet powerful look at the way desolation can twist someone to the point of feeling completely dejected from the world around them.
The poignant and fascinating story of a young man who is caught between the breakup of the traditions of a northern Japanese aristocratic family and the impact of Western ideas.
Portraying himself as a failure, the protagonist of Osamu Dazai's No Longer Human narrates a seemingly normal life even while he feels himself incapable of understanding human beings. Oba Yozo's attempts to reconcile himself to the world around him begin in early childhood, continue through high school, where he becomes a "clown" to mask his alienation, and eventually lead to a failed suicide attempt as an adult. Without sentimentality, he records the casual cruelties of life and its fleeting moments of human connection and tenderness.
About the Author
OSAMU DAZAI was born in 1909 into a powerful landowning family of Northern Japan. A brilliant student, he entered the French Department of Tokyo University in 1930, but later boasted that in the five years before he left without a degree he had never attended a lecture. Dazai was famous for confronting head-on the social and moral crises of postwar Japan when he committed suicide by throwing himself into Tokyo’s Tamagawa Reservoir. His body was found on what would have been his 39th birthday.
DONALD KEENE, the author of dozens of books in both English and Japanese as well as the famed translator of Dazai, Kawabata, and Mishima, was the first non-Japanese to receive the Yomiuri Prize for Literature
Dazai offers something permanent and beautiful.
No Longer Human is his masterpiece, though all his work is worthy. Dazai was an aristocratic tramp, a self described delinquent, yet he wrote with the forbearance of a fasting scribe.