I would like to start trying to set up a reading schedule, but this book does not seem to be very friendly when it comes to being sliced into digestible portions :-/
Looking at the page count on Amazon (192 pages), it sounds like we could have a 12-week schedule maybe? That would technically mean 16 pages per week, but usually there are a few unrelated pages at the front and back, so we might end up with 15 pages.
Regarding the breakup of the book into those weeks, here are some findings I could derive from the eBook version. The book’s structure looks like like this:
Percentage of book
As you can see, there are some big lumps in the middle, and on scrolling through the book I could not spot any breaks or anything… So the question would be, should we just cut it up into somewhat equal sections and call it a day?
If somebody with a physical book could add more information to this, I’d be very grateful!
Well, the Bookwalker edition I linked to is not free
I mean, of course the source material is free on Aozora, but if another publisher puts in some effort to make it nicer or better suited for the digital format, then I am happy to pay for it - but I can totally see that others think differently about that. I just wanted to pick a “base reference” edition so we don’t have to deal with a gazillion different page numbers for the many different editions and stuff… But I’m not fixed with this choice. If we agree on using a different edition as the “base reference”, then that’s fine for me too.
What I find even much more strange that occasionally the page numbers vary a lot as well I don’t want to end up with an incomplete version accidentally or something, so I deliberately picked the one that had the same cover as the print version on Amazon…
If you have an idea for suitable breaks in the story, that would be really helpful! Thank you
Fun fact, when I travelled in Japan and happened to start a conversation with a stranger, you know, the usual reaction to my “I’m German” is something like “Oh, the beer!” - “Oh, the sausages!” - “Oh, the cars!” and similar stereotypes. But on my last tour it happened to me no less than three times that somebody responded with “Oh, the philosophers!” And I was like “Ahem, erm, can we maybe, like, switch topics or something?” So I figured it might be about time for me after all
Could we consider a shorter schedule? Even though this is rated as “hard”, just scrolling through the book and reading random sentences, the language doesn’t seem particularly difficult to me. Switching from 45 to 15 pages per week is gonna be weird. Maybe we could do something in between? 25 pages?
I’m a bit reluctant because while I agree that the language does not seem to be that hard (I read the first few pages a while ago already), my experience with older books so far has been that much of the difficulty does not lie in the language as such but in the contents
I.e. things being expressed only vaguely, conversations being hard to properly assign to the participants, stuff like that…
But of course my opinion is not set in stone, and I’m curious to hear what the others think!
I’ve been trying to find a version of the ebook on the kindle store to pick, see if there’s any differences.
So far, judging by the preview, the 青空文庫 version (free) and the Gutenberg version (free with unlimited, 330 yen to buy) seem to have the same content. The 角川文庫 version (277 yen) has additional furigana (still not on all words) as well as annotations, judging by the foreword.
I couldn’t tell whether the other ones have annotations, but they do have an afterword.
Honestly thinking about going for the latter, to save time looking up and wondering, as well as for the annotations.
So this is my proposed schedule, with slower start and some speeding up later. Because of speeding up already included, it ended up being 9 weeks instead of 12. If it turns out to be too much, I’m happy to help again!
Kindle assigned “pages” to this one along with the locs, so I included pages numbers too, in case they fit some physical version.
Kindle page count
10% (starts at 2%)
22 (starts at 4)
つまり、自分は、女性にとって、恋の秘密を守れる男であったというわけなのでした。 (end of the chapter)
「お酒だけか？ うちも飲もう」 (there is a natural break here invisible in the Aozora/Kindle version)
背後の高い窓から夕焼けの空が見え、鴎が、「女」という字みたいな形で飛んでいました。 (end of the chapter)
自分は、それ以来、シゲ子にさえおどおどしなければならなくなりました。 (there is a natural break here invisible in the Aozora/Kindle version)
決して、そんな一本勝負などで、何から何まできまってしまうような、なまやさしいところでも無かったのでした。 (end of the chapter)
Yay, I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while (ever since one of my classmates held a presentation about 太宰 治), but in English because I didn’t feel confident enough about reading it in Japanese. So reading it with the book club will be perfect for me.
I’m definitely too excited about Dazai winning, especially since I’m not even going to read along plus I not even like this book that much - I value it for its cultural impact and it’s useful to know the content because of references everywhere… but I don’t like it as a… thing to read? It’s more a philosophical statement for me.
But it’s got some plot, don’t worry
I was thinking how to direct this enthusiasm (no, I won’t reread), and I’m considering reading The Saga of Dazai Osamu by Phyllis I. Lyons instead, along with book club reading 人間失格. I bought it some months ago and still didn’t touch it. Maybe I’ll bore you with mention best trivia from it each week
First bit - I was always wondering how good was Dazai with Tokyo dialect (he was using Tsugaru-ben natively), and did he need the editor to correct him in this regard.
Well, at least according to this quote, he did need help, but only for early writings, so I guess not for 人間失格.
Dazai Osamu, who captivated audiences of friends with unforgettable conversation, had to rid himself of backwoods twang. Despite the contacts his wealthy and prominent family enjoyed with Tokyo, his high school copybooks show in their spelling that as a child he spoke the nonstandard local dialect. He himself relates that his sister teased him about these discrepancies when he wrote to her at school. Occasionally in his writings he mentions his “muddy Tsugaru dialect,”’ and he reveals that his mentor, Ibuse Masuji, “fixed up” his early writings. Already saddled with a well-developed sense of being an outsider, he was no doubt hindered in his adjustment to Tokyo by the stigma of speech. The Saga of Dazai Osamu by Phyllis I. Lyons, page 23
Oh wow! That really makes you realize that Dazai is a comparatively recent author… Ibuse is famous for his novel Black Rain (1965), which deals with the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombings, so he is a Post-War author in my mind… to think that Dazai was younger than him when he was alive
I guess it makes sense that Dazai is a Pre-War author for me because he committed suicide (or rather succeeded for the first time) in 1948. But if he had lived longer he would’ve probably lived until the 90‘s, which is crazy recent.
One potentially interesting thing for if you find yourself with pent-up Dazai/人間失格 enthusiasm:
extremely popular horror mangaka Junji Ito adapted 人間失格 into a manga of the same name recently.
I read the English edition just as a new Ito without knowing the provenance going in (goes to show the difference just a year makes - now I’d want to read the original first, and both in Japanese), and while it didn’t make me feel like the novel would be my jam, if the novel IS your jam, or you’re just curious, it’s definitely an interesting adaptation.
Unfortunately for international conversation, the titles are partly in Polish.
“Zatracenie” is 人間失格, “Zmierzch” has corresponding Japanese title on the cover, and so does “Uczennica”. “Goodbye i wybrane opowiadania” and “Owoce wiśni” are short stories collections.