糞尿譚 💩 (Miscellaneous Book Club - unscheduled)

Welcome to 糞尿譚 :poop:

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Hello and welcome to 糞尿譚!It was written by 火野葦平 in 1937, therefore it uses some unusual or outdated kanji and vocab, but the text as such is luckily already written in modern Japanese.

I chose to read it in the first place because it is an Akutagawa Prize winner, and a short one. So I picked it to represent the 1930’s in the The Akutagawa Prize Reading Challenge.

If you make it to the end of the book, you are entitled to tick it off in the Challenge! It won the prize in 1937年下, so that’s where you can find it.

A live action drama was produced in 1957. For details please see the book’s Wikipedia page.

Where to buy

Amazon | Aozora - free! | Bookwalker - free!

Discussion and Reading Schedule

We will start reading on June 3rd, 2022.

In this book club, everybody can freely determine their own reading schedule. If people happen to read along at the same time and pace, that adds to the fun! But if not, it’s fine as well.
Please use this thread to ask questions as well as comment on the contents, or just to check in with the others on a regular basis. Looking forward to your posts!

The book does not have chapters, but its paragraphs are very long, so I decided to number the paragraphs to help us refer to individual sections of the book. Here is an overview of them:

Paragraph # First word Percent
1 どこか 1%
2 朝早く 12%
3 純白 13%
4 集金 16%
5 21%
6 市内 30%
7 35%
8 秋風 38%
9 子供 44%
10 八時 45%
11 お早う 49%
12 近づき 51%
13 このこと 58%
14 この歎願 62%
15 或る朝 66%
16 71%
17 湯槽 77%
18 或る日 83%
19 89%
20 蹌踉 89%
21 すっかり 92%

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for important events as we will read the whole book in this one thread.
  • When asking for help, please (roughly) mention the page number or percentage. 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 糞尿譚 :poop: with the book club?

  • Yes
  • Not sure
  • No

0 voters

If so, which version will you be reading?

  • Aozora
  • Bookwalker
  • Other eBook
  • Paperback

0 voters

And what is your current reading status?

  • I have not started reading yet (but will soon, promise!)
  • I’m currently reading the book
  • I have finished the book
  • I am no longer reading the book

0 voters

Relevant Historical Events

TBD

Proper Noun Readings

The information is spoilered according to in which paragraph it appears, so you know how much you can unfold.

Name Reading Notes
小森 彦太郎 こもり ひこたろう P1: Our protagonist
卯平 うへい P1: Friend of 彦太郎
総円 そうえん P1: The regional mountain hermit-buddhist priest (?)
赤瀬 あかせ P1: 卯平’s boss
沢田 さわだ P1: 彦太郎’s employee (driver)
としの P1: 彦太郎’s wife
徳次 P1: 彦太郎’s son, 12 years old
千代子 ちよこ P1: 彦太郎’s daughter, 8 years old
天野 久太郎 あまの きゅうたろう P1: 彦太郎’s acquaintance/friend? Stammers. P4: 彦太郎’s business rival.



李聖学 ? P3: Korean working for 彦太郎. P4: His Japanese name is 金本.
赤瀬 春吉 あかせ しゅんきち? P4: 彦太郎’s 恩人 in regards to his business. The same 赤瀬 as above?
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I am intrigued by the emoji. Intrigued enough to perhaps start reading :joy:.

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Maybe this is going to be the book I’ll be reading during the next two weeks until the Saikawa & Moe book club starts :durtle_durtverted_lvl1:

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It’s free, so of course I’ll join. :upside_down_face:

The subject matter honestly seems super interesting, because that’s not a job you’ll see around here anymore.

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I’m on my second day of reading, and while I haven’t been able to dedicate much time to it yet, I have to say I still haven’t finished the first “paragraph”. :sweat_smile: Those sentences are long. And when I say long, I mean I have often needed to interrupt my reading in the middle of a sentence because I had something else to do and reaching the end of the sentence would just take too long! Most are several independent sentences strung together though, so it’s not quite as bad as it sounds.

I already have several questions (I haven’t quite got my bearings yet), but my main one is, what on earth is a 泥吐口 and how can it be used to drain a pond? I’m assuming it’s an artificial pond?

The only thing that came up when I searched for 泥吐口 was this:


but how can that be at the bottom of a pond?

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Fun times, innit? :sweat_smile:

Oh by the way I never realized that there are so few paragraphs actually! I think I will add a rough outline by paragraphs to the OP, so that we can more easily refer to which paragraph we are in, maybe? (just like “normal” books have chapters, you know?)
I’m also planning to give a short summary after each paragraph so that we have something to discuss. At least I hope I can hold up to this after all :sweat_smile:

Feel free to fire away whenever you see fit!
By the way I never mentioned this before, but I have a Japanese friend whom I made to read the book when I was on my first attempt because I wanted to ask him several things, and on top of that I thought it would be fun if we could discuss the book together. He then sat down and read the whole thing in an hour or so. :face_with_spiral_eyes: (I swear I have never been so frustrated in my whole life :exploding_head:). Anyways, whenever tricky questions arise, I can always check back with him to clarify things.

That’s what I assume too. It seems to be a plug that sits at the bottom of the pond, probably to seal off a drainage tube or something, and that can be pulled in order to empty the pond. So I figured it’s a kind of simple water basin, maybe for watering the fields or something?

Fun fact, when I searched for the word, I came across this:

“泥吐口”の読み方と例文|ふりがな文庫 (just have a look at where they quoted the texts from :grin:)
This actually leads me to believe that it’s not the most common word of all…

I’d imagine that there is something below this lid that serves a similar purpose?

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If it interests anyone / makes them more inclined to read Aozora - I sometimes convert longer works into EPUB format using this guide which means I can read it in Moon+ Reader* where I’ve loaded in JP<>JP and JP<>Eng dictionaries. Like so:

The main advantage of doing this over reading it in browser with something like Yomichan is the ability to highlight and add notes. Bookwalker limits how many highlights you can make which is so dumb and I hate that passionately so this is a nice alternative. The guide linked further explains how to go from EPUB to Kindle format should you want that.

Anyways, I’m going to start reading shortly now that this has been taken care of!

*Android app, I’m sure there is something similar on iPhone

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So I did some googling too and it does appear to be a pretty uncommon word these days. I searched a bit deeper (curiosity, cats, you know how it goes) and found this (PDF). It has diagrams and refers to it as a 泥吐ゲート which at least for me helps visualize what was going on and makes me think the name has just changed over the years.

I’m currently sitting at 3.5% and while I don’t find the long sentences too difficult (I’m actually enjoying the writing style a lot!) there’s definitely some words here and there where I’m resorting to Google or looking up readings for words I already know, but not the kanji. Looking at you 蛙.

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I feel like it’s worth mentioning that the free kindle version seems to be the same version. At least it says 青空 in the description and that amazon isn’t responsible for any mistakes. Never seen that one before, haha.

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That pdf is very helpful, thanks! So if I understand correctly from skimming it, there are these mini dams that help collect water in small artificial ponds, and the 泥吐口 is a vertical (and not horizontal as I imagined) lid that if taken off/opened allows the water to continue to flow downwards, draining the lake. I love how in some of the pictures we can even see the red soil referenced in the story.

I’m enjoying the writing style too, and I have read many, especially older, books in other languages written like this, but at my level in Japanese I find myself having to reread sentences after a series of lookups because it’s impossible to keep the whole thing in my mind for so long. :sweat_smile:

Right? It’s ridiculous and I can’t think of a reason why they would want to limit that. That and the difficulty in copying text are so annoying I would drop Bookwalker in a heartbeat if Amazon allowed me to buy ebooks without lying about my address. But I digress.

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You can also convert the xHTML from Aozora to the epub format via an online converter and read in most e-readers :).

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OK so there is a change of scenery even inside the first paragraph :joy_cat:, and I’m grabbing the chance to use this location to summarize my understanding of the part.

Story up to 6% (middle of Paragraph 1), until "西瓜畑"

So we meet our protagonist 彦太郎 who sees his friend 卯平 in a pond, and so he runs to greet him. 卯平 is trying to pull a plug from the bottom of the pond in order to drain it. After a slightly tense scene where 卯平 takes ages to emerge from the bottom of the pond again, he actually managed to pull the plug, and the pond starts to get empty.
When 彦太郎 asks why he wants to drain the pond, 卯平 starts to explain that his wife is very annoyed because there seems to be a very noisy frog in the area that gets on her nerves, and although 卯平 tried to catch it, he couldn’t manage to, so decided to resort to the more drastic measure of draining the pond in order to find it. During the conversation, 卯平’s wife briefly appears at the window of the small house they live in, and she clearly shows signs of being mentally ill. 卯平 explains that she seems to be possessed by a fox spirit and that she started to become dangerous because she would throw things around and whatnot, and so he tied her with a rope (!), but that didn’t help and she would always escape from the ties. Also, she managed to annoy his boss. Eventually he got the regional mountain buddhist priest hermit (I guess?) to exorcise the spirit, and she started to behave better. In between we get quick glimpses of how frustrated and sad 卯平 is about the situation and how much he pities her, but he tries to cover this up and not let it show too much. 彦太郎 is shocked and runs away, leaving the desperate 卯平 behind.

Interesting expression:
5%: 歯がゆうてならん:
This is a combination of 歯痒い - Jisho.org and てならない - Jisho.org, with a (probably older, or maybe dialect) て-form for adjectives, which I also found here: 1-3. 形容詞
(Note that this says Kyoto dialect, but the story takes place in northern Kyuushuu afaik, so I’m rather leaning towards older language.)

@Iinchou Sorry I did not mean to reply to you - used the wrong reply button :woman_facepalming:

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Thanks for the summary. I have read just a little beyond this part, still very much in paragraph 1. The part about 卯平’s boss (was it when he talks about peasant work?), and the part about the priest is a little hard to understand for me, I’m still not crystal clear on exactly what happened even though I read it several times. But I’m more confused on why suddenly 彦太郎 ran like crazy away from there. It didn’t seem to me like it was because of the wife’s circumstances, as he seemed to already know about it. I mean, it wasn’t a very pleasant talk, but I don’t get what the trigger was for him to suddenly want to flee like that. 卯平’s laugh was strange and hollow. Did he get the feeling that he was cursed too, or something? Of course, it doesn’t help that we know nothing at all about 彦太郎 yet.

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I also had to check back on that one. I believe it’s around there, where he talks about 赤瀬, his 親方 around 6%.

As for why he left like that, we learn about more about him and his family after that, around 7%, so I don’t want to spoil that. :smiley:

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I found these two scenes also quite tricky. Let’s see if I can get a bit of a rundown of them:

Still about 6% (middle of Paragraph 1)

First, about the scene with the wife and the priest:

I will start when 卯平 starts talking (i.e. after すぐにもとの元気な顔になって、):

That’s a particularly tenacious fox [spirit], it has been 10 days today but it still did not leave, that idiot fox spirit got confused and possessed my wife, unbearably tantalizing, seems like the backyard’s inari fox spirit, she (I guess?) became violent and so there was nothing we could do about it, and so as she’d receive an exorcism she behaved better.
She said incredible things and threw around everything in her reach, and that was dangerous so we made the mountain’s Mr. Souen come, who silenced her with a paper string (I think this is one of these buddhist things with the dangling lightnings or something?), he has the appearance of a heavily drinking mountain hermit yakuza but I thought that he had handled this superbly (?); because of her extreme violence I had previously tied her up with a big rope but no matter how strongly I bound her, she would manage to escape, however Souen only bound her hands and feet with a short paper string and prayed, but that made her completely behave well (without her free will being effective). Souen said that it would take 2-3 days to drive away the fox spirit, therefore she should be healed any minute now, …

At least that’s my understanding of that part. Probably I took a few wrong turns, I found it a bit hard to always understand where the て-form connects, and whether た-form actually modifies the following or whether it’s more like an ongoing rant thing without proper sentence breaks.

The boss scene is hopefully somewhat shorter :joy_cat: I will start where 卯平 says 嬶も因果な奴さ、
My wife is a poor fellow, when I was on a 道楽 (whatever that may mean in this context :eyes:) she caused some trouble, finally giving my boss Akase a big problem,
お詫びかたがたこの山の番人みたいになった
I’m actually a bit puzzled on this bit, so if anybody could help out? I take it to mean that she apologized to the guys who seemed to be guardians in the mountains, maybe?
…but they made her only do peasant work and did not look at her seriously, and finally she was possessed by the fox spirit.

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Largely agree on the priest part. (I hadn’t realized 飲んだくれ was one word, and it threw me off quite a bit).

The second part, about Akase, still confuses me a lot.

俺が道楽して居る間中苦労をさせて
道楽 - Is this debauchery, indulging in women, alcohol, etc, or did it have a different meaning back then? The kanji are just road and comfort, so might it have meant “taking it easy” or something?
苦労をさせて who caused trouble to whom? He to his wife with his behaviour?
とうとう赤瀬の親方にひどい迷惑をかけて - finally caused trouble to boss Akase (took me the longest time to realize Akase was a name)
What kind of boss is Akase? Whose boss? In what? We know nothing about them all yet.
Is the subject so far maybe 卯平 and not his wife? With his whatever behaviour he caused trouble/anxiety to his wife (or made her do hard work?), and made trouble for his boss.
びかたがたこの山の番人みたいになったが
Yeah, no idea. おび has no helpful particle. It’s supposed to mean apology.
かたがた - people? everyone? you? at the same time? incidentally?
この山の番人みたいになった - became like a guardian of this mountain?
百姓仕事ばかりさせて - made me?her? only do peasant work (who?)
ろくな目にも合わせず - didn’t …suffer…satisfactorily?
揚句にゃ狐にまで取っ憑かれやがった on top of it all ended up possessed by the fox. (the wife. So was the wife the subject all along?)
This is causing me a headache…
Maybe, his lewd behaviour (or whatever) caused trouble to his wife and his boss, he was made to do peasant work as an apology to the mountain guardians, didn’t do it well (? not at all sure that’s what it means), and on top of it all his wife got possessed? Nah, I’m just making this up.

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By now I have learned through experience that if a string of characters doesn’t offer a plausible breakdown, it might be insightful to chuck it into Jisho as a whole :slight_smile:

(I mean, くれ could be the imperative but that doesn’t make sense with the subsequent のような which hints at the fact that there should be a noun in front)

Akase - ok so this is all wrong, please see below [quote="omk3, post:16, topic:57247"] 道楽 - Is this debauchery, indulging in women, alcohol, etc, or did it have a different meaning back then? The kanji are just road and comfort, so might it have meant “taking it easy” or something? [/quote]

I don’t really believe in the latter (I also associate 楽 more with “pleasure” than with “comfort” tbh). I think he was just out and about for some pleasures or some other (I’d bet gambling and drinking, but could be sex as well). I’ll check back with my Japanese friend later.

I think for this we need to look at a slightly larger part of the sentence:

嬶も因果な奴さ、俺が道楽して居る間中苦労をさせて

If we look for topics and subjects, we have

topic: 嬶も (this is は in disguise)
subject: 俺が

Now the subject is always very short-lived while the topic can live longer. Therefore, the subject exists only in its subsentence 俺が道楽して居る間中 (the time when I was out and about). Outside of this, the subject is not visible. What remains is:
嬶も因果な奴さ、苦労をさせて
which makes it pretty clear to me that the wife is causing the trouble.

That’s always the most fun part, right? :woman_facepalming:

I think that one would use 親方 mainly for one’s own boss. In the workplace context, if I’m not mistaken.

碌な - Jisho.org means “proper” or "respectable, while 「目を合わせる(めをあわせる)」の意味や使い方 わかりやすく解説 Weblio辞書 means “look in the eyes” or something. “Without respectably looking her in the eyes” (i.e. not accepting her as a peer)

The topic :slight_smile:

I think the gist goes like: He was away, she caused trouble, eventually even to the boss, then she apologized, but she was not accepted as a peer and was only made to do peasant work, and on top of all of that she got possessed by the fox.

I’ll see if I can clarify the details later :slight_smile:

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more Akase

I agree with all that you said about subject/topic, but the way this is written, all these phrases could be parts of one well-constructed sentence or a series of unrelated sentences strung together. I took the さ to be the end of the sentence about the wife, and the rest being slightly independent/explaining why she is unfortunate. I am most probably wrong of course. :sweat_smile:

Yes but, 合う means to go through; to suffer; to experience (something unpleasant)​. Which one is it? :confused:
Your interpretation seems more likely, and it’s not like it’s the first time particles are switched for one another.

As for the wife causing trouble to the boss, I somehow had it in my head that she must have been a housewife, given it was written back then, and that only the husband would work and thus have a boss. But of course both men and women have always worked in fields since forever, so I don’t know what got into me… :roll_eyes:

Native feedback would be greatly appreciated, but I wouldn’t want to pester your friend too much. Given that we’re still only at the very beginning of the book, I can imagine we’ll be having many more difficult parts to decipher.

Okay, so drumroll I talked to my Japanese friend, and

No, you are absolutely right on all accounts :joy_cat:

Akase - The Real Story

嬶も因果な奴さ、
→ my wife is a poor fellow,
俺が道楽して居る間中
→ I was out and about (I checked back with him, and 道楽 indeed means gambling, drinking, sex and these things)
苦労をさせて、
→ and therefore I caused my wife to suffer, (because I spent all the money and left her alone)
とうとう赤瀬の親方にひどい迷惑をかけて
→ finally I even got into trouble with my boss,
お詫びかたがた
→ as an apology (this means to fulfill a duty as apology, e.g. doing the dishes in a restaurant when you can’t pay for the bill)
この山の番人みたいになった
→ I went to the mountains to serve as a guard, (that was the duty he picked/that was chosen for him)
が、
→ but
百姓仕事ばかりさせて
→ this way I imposed all the farm work (at home) on my wife (because I was away)
碌な目にも合わせず、
→ [to summarize all of the above points] he could not do anything good for her (e.g. give her money or something), see also https://meaning-dictionary.com/「ろくな目にあわない」とは?意味や使い方を解/ (it’s a fixed expression)
揚句にゃ狐にまで取っ憑かれやがった。
→ and on top of it all she went mad.

So bottom line, he knows full well that his past behaviour is the root cause of his wife’s mental illness. (And by the way, that’s why 彦太郎 suddenly runs away - and like Belerith said, we will learn more about that slightly later.)

By the way he said that it’s pretty common in this book that one doesn’t know who the actor of a given part is :sweat_smile:
Looks like we’re in for some big learning :joy_cat: :flushed:

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Thanks so much for the explanation! To both your friend and yourself! I’m so glad we now have the definitive story, especially as it’s mentioned again later (I just got to that part).

:flushed: :grimacing: We got this. No problem. None at all… :sweat_smile:

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