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Blue Bamboo

by Osamu Dazai

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1472146,785 (3.8)11
Blue Bamboo is a collection of seven short stories by one of Japan's preeminent postwar writers and prose stylists, Osamu Dazai. Not the typical romantic fantasies so often seen in Japanese writing, filled with water sprites and vengeful ghosts, these stories are a mixture of fantastic allegory, slightly skewed fables, and affecting romantic tales. Revealing the wide range of Dazai's imaginative powers, they also give a glimpse of his humane and idealistic side. From the title story, about an impoverished, henpecked scholar who is transformed by the love of a voluptuous bird, to "The Chrysanthemum Spirit," about a passionate gardener who meets a brother and sister with extraordinary powers, Dazai creates a world of fantasy and romance that is infused with his own psychological concerns. Many readers may recall the poignancy of Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince or Han Christian Andersen. The collection is capped by two delightful stories-within-a-story, in which the assorted members of a quirky family compose alternate episodes of a slightly gothic romance with hints of Poe and Saki (in "On Love and Beauty") and a wildly elaborate retelling of Rapunzel that is engaging, horrifying, and touching by turns (in "Lanterns of Romance"). All in all, these warm, inventive, and life-affirming stories will strike a deep, satisfying chord in many readers.… (more)
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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
Probably the most fun I've had reading a book. Marry me Dazai. ( )
  yuef3i | Sep 19, 2021 |
This collection of short stories was my first encounter with Dazai Osamu. The stories have a dark undercurrent, and a black humour sits across them. I laughed out loud a few times. Dazai has an interesting writing style and a wry turn of phrase, highlighting the ridiculous in a situation. In a few of the stories, he reminded me of J D Salinger, particularly the stories about the Irie family, who are like a Japanese version of Salinger's Glass family. The stories are self-referential, with characters reappearing and meeting each other across different tales, and focus on the frustrations of life in rule-bound Japanese society. Many of the main characters are disaffected, some of them are downright unpleasant, all of them are misfits. They try to break free of the very Japanese concept of filial piety (honouring your parents no matter what) and go their own, sometimes apathetic, sometimes debauched way. I don't know if I enjoyed everything in the book, but I definitely appreciated the style, which is quite different to that of his contemporaries, Ryūnosuke, Mishima and Sōseki. Dazai seems very modern, as though he were living now, rather than 70 years ago. I will try out one of his novels. ( )
1 vote missizicks | Jan 24, 2016 |
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There were five brothers and sisters, and all of them loved romances.
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Blue Bamboo is a collection of seven short stories by one of Japan's preeminent postwar writers and prose stylists, Osamu Dazai. Not the typical romantic fantasies so often seen in Japanese writing, filled with water sprites and vengeful ghosts, these stories are a mixture of fantastic allegory, slightly skewed fables, and affecting romantic tales. Revealing the wide range of Dazai's imaginative powers, they also give a glimpse of his humane and idealistic side. From the title story, about an impoverished, henpecked scholar who is transformed by the love of a voluptuous bird, to "The Chrysanthemum Spirit," about a passionate gardener who meets a brother and sister with extraordinary powers, Dazai creates a world of fantasy and romance that is infused with his own psychological concerns. Many readers may recall the poignancy of Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince or Han Christian Andersen. The collection is capped by two delightful stories-within-a-story, in which the assorted members of a quirky family compose alternate episodes of a slightly gothic romance with hints of Poe and Saki (in "On Love and Beauty") and a wildly elaborate retelling of Rapunzel that is engaging, horrifying, and touching by turns (in "Lanterns of Romance"). All in all, these warm, inventive, and life-affirming stories will strike a deep, satisfying chord in many readers.

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Kurodahan Press

An edition of this book was published by Kurodahan Press.

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