人間失格 (Advanced Book Club)

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Welcome to 人間失格


Where to buy

Amazon | Bookwalker | Aozora (free!)

Discussion Threads and Reading Schedule

We started reading on July 3rd, 2021.

Week Start Date Chapter / End Phrase End Page Kindle LOC Kindle % Page Count
Week 1 July 3rd はしがき + 第一の手記: 姉の脚絆(レギンス)を両腕にはめて、浴衣の袖口から覗かせ、(もっ)てセエターを着ているように見せかけていたのです。 16 145 10% 12
Week 2 July 10th 第一の手記 End 25 252 15% 9
Week 3 July 17th 第二の手記: 校歌などというものも、いちども覚えようとした事がありません。 43 453 27% 18
Week 4 July 24th 第二の手記: 「お酒だけか? うちも飲もう」 61 678 40% 18
Week 5 July 31th 第二の手記 End 77 864 51% 16
Week 6 Aug 7th 第三の手記・一: どこへも、訪ねて行けない。(just before 堀木。in a separate line) 88 984 58% 10
Week 7 Aug 14th 第三の手記・一: それが自分の日常でした。(just before the poem) 103 1158 68% 15
Week 8 Aug 21th 第三の手記・一 End 116 1298 76% 13.5
Week 9 Aug 28st 第三の手記・二: […]からだ具合いを一そう悪くして帰京しただけの事でした。 137 1524 90% 21
Week 10 Sep 4th 第三の手記・二 + あとがき 155 1726 100% 18

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarrassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
  • To you lurkers out there: Join the conversation, it’s fun!

Member List

Are you planning to read 人間失格 with the book club?

  • Yes
  • Yes, but I might start late
  • Not sure
  • No

0 voters

If so, which version will you be reading?

  • eBook
  • Paperback

0 voters


Hey and welcome to the 人間失格 home thread!

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:

Chapter Percentage
of book
はしがき ~2%
第一の手記 ~11%
第二の手記 ~35%
第三の手記・一 ~25%
第三の手記・二 ~22%
あとがき ~4%

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? :sweat_smile:

If somebody with a physical book could add more information to this, I’d be very grateful!


Also, so that it doesn’t fall into the abyss of oblivion:

“the latter” being 人間失格, so there we are! :sweat_smile:

I will gauge interest at some later point in time…


I may be nitpicking, but technically, all digital editions are free. Kindle option can easily be found from your Amazon link, but Bookwalker… hmm. It’s weird.

This one seems to be free, for example. Basically, there are many versions with many covers and the prices vary and I’m unable to guess why the prices vary.

Of course, since Aozora version isn’t DRMed, it’s probably the most accessible version anyway if someone isn’t using ereader. :woman_shrugging:

Since I already read it (but in Polish), I can break it for you, if you want. It’s above my level to read it leisurely, but finding the proper sentences ends shouldn’t be a problem.

…Wait, you’re serious about it :joy:


Well, the Bookwalker edition I linked to is not free :wink:
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 :exploding_head: 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 :slight_smile:

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!” :exploding_head: And I was like “Ahem, erm, can we maybe, like, switch topics or something?” :sweat_smile: So I figured it might be about time for me after all :upside_down_face:


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 :sweat_smile:
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!


We could do what has been done in other book clubs, start slow then crank up the speed after a few weeks? :thinking: Then we can reassess the schedule/speed if the difficulty was higher/lower than expected.


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. :thinking:
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.

Week Chapter End sentence Kindle % Kindle page Kindle page count Kindle loc
1 はしがき
姉の脚絆(レギンス)を両腕にはめて、浴衣の袖口から覗かせ、(もっ)てセエターを着ているように見せかけていたのです。 10%
(starts at 2%)
(starts at 4)
18 145
2 第一の手記 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)
15% 37 15 252
3 第二の手記 校歌などというものも、いちども覚えようとした事がありません。 27% 65 28 453
4 第二の手記 「お酒だけか? うちも飲もう」
(there is a natural break here invisible in the Aozora/Kindle version)
40% 96 31 678
5 第二の手記 背後の高い窓から夕焼けの空が見え、(かもめ)が、「女」という字みたいな形で飛んでいました。
(end of the chapter)
51% 123 27 864
6 第三の手記・一 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)
65% 156 33 1102
7 第三の手記・一 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)
76% 185 29 1298
8 第三の手記・二 […]からだ具合いを一そう悪くして帰京しただけの事でした。 90% 217 32 1524
9 第三の手記・二
End 100% 244 27 1726

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? :wink: It’s more a philosophical statement for me.
But it’s got some plot, don’t worry :sweat_smile:

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 :grin:

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


Fixed that for you. :slight_smile:

I think that’d be super interesting.


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 :sweat_smile:

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.


Oh I know this


I’m not surprised!

Also wow dang the library binding making the book jacket unremovable seems a real shame in retrospect!

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In my case, paper cover was damaged during transport, so I removed it entirely, since it still has the title on the spine.

Btw, the differences between manga and the novel: there is more stuff in the manga. Junji Ito basically adapted the original story, and then added his own fanfiction to it.


And since I already have started taking photos…

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.


I’m jealous. In Hungarian we only have 斜陽 from Dazai. But then again, there are 4 times as much people in Poland than here, so obviously the market for Japanese literature is also smaller.