Week 10: 人間失格 [END]

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人間失格 Home Thread

Week 10


Start Date: Sep 4th
Previous Part: Week 9


Week Start Date Chapter / End Phrase End Page Kindle LOC Kindle % Page Count
Week 10 Sep 4th 第三の手記・二 + あとがき 155 1726 100% 18

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I read ahead as I’ll be away this week. It didn’t end super well, but not nearly as badly as I feared it would, so there’s that.

I haven’t looked at the 解説 yet. Does anyone know if it’s worth reading?


Who did write the 解説 in your edition? There’s none in Aozora or free Kindle version (figures).

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It was written by 奥野健男 (a literary critic). I have this edition. I’ll probably take a look at it when I get back.


The bookwalker version also doesn’t have one :woman_shrugging:

So I guess we all need to make @miwuc read it and tell us what it’s about :joy:


Trivia Week 10 [Last!]
The Saga of Dazai Osamu by Phyllis I. Lyons
chapters: The Journey Outward, Fatal Success, Conclusion

And yet still 人間失格 is somehow much more darker version of his life. As Lyons puts it “the events are all transformed negatively”. :woman_shrugging:t2:

During this week’s portion, morphine addiction finally makes an entrance, but different circumstances lead to it and it was at the end of the story vs in the middle of Dazai’s life.
Basically Yōzō’s life ends much quicker than Dazai’s, just after the traumatic mental hospital experience.

Thank you all for sharing the book club space with me and giving me the motivation to finally read Lyons’ book. (Well, at least the non-fiction part of it, because there are also short stories included, some of which I didn’t read yet.)
Of course I didn’t quote everything, and there were many things I had to skip because it would get to long and because it wouldn’t be fair use anymore :wink: (although the book itself is out of print, unfortunately, I had to buy a pricey second-hand copy)

Final Women

Ōta Shizuko

  • A young woman whom he [Dazai] had known for several years, and who had been corresponding with him while he was in Tsugaru
  • Shizuko had first become interested in Dazai while she was suffering intense guilt feelings over the death of her infant daughter; the child had died, Shizuko was certain, because she no longer loved her husband
  • Shizuko is the general model for Kazuko, the heroine of The Setting Sun
  • The Setting Sun is based on her diary: but the events of this diary cover mainly the events of the first half of Dazai’s novel
  • There is evidence that The Setting Sun was to end in eight chapters with Naoji arc ending as the conclusion, but Shizuko was now pregnant with Dazai’s child, and this may have inspired him to substitute a more defiant ending
  • Dazai never entered the child [daughter] into his family, but he did name her at Shizuko’s request, and wrote a statement recognizing her as his own
  • But he was avoiding Ōta Shizuko when she wanted to discuss pregnancy

Yamazaki Tomie

  • The next and fatally the last woman in his life
  • Tomie’s husband had been sent to the Philiphines by his company; after less than two weeks of marriage, he had been drafted from there; since 1943 he has been missing in action; in July 1947 death had been confirmed (Tomie was already seeing Dazai before confirmation)
  • Within a week she had written her first suicide note (which she kept; the one she ultimately left behind was her third) and had chosen the photograph she wanted to be her memorial picture
  • Her relationship with Dazai seems, from the evidence of her diary, to have been aimed toward death right from the start
  • The bodies of Dazai Osamu and Yamazaki Tomie were recovered on the morning of June 19, 1948, on what would have been Dazai’s fortieth birthday by Japanese count
  • Some critics claimed, on various physical evidence that Dazai was already dead, or the least unconscious, when he entered the water; they hint darkly that she may have made sure he would not escape this time; perhaps, had Tomie not been so set on it, he might have survived yet another attempt; perhaps Dazai had finally met a woman who would make up his mind for him

[Dazai] ashses were laid to rest at Zenrinji Temple near his home in Mitaka, in a tomb facing that of another writer he had admired, Mori Ōgai.

人間失格 quotes (spoilers for the Week 10)

Yōzō’s world is empty and echoing. He is, by his own description, a bizarre little fellow. By some accident of fate, he has been placed in a world whose first principled he cannot even discern. What it means to be human is a puzzle to him. They are many and he is one, so he must adapt to survive; but like a little creature from outer space plunked down on an alien planet, he can only change his surface coloration and pray that his truly different metabolism will not be discovered. […] If Yōzō stands appalled at human hypocrisy, stupidity, and mindless cruelty, he also is sadly unable to respond to the warmth, love and trust that also exist in the human world.

When the bar madam at the end says, “It’s his father’s fault,”, that is Dazai’s judgment on his life. If his father had not abandoned him, in life or in death, when he was in high school, his life would have been different. We can remonstrate that the outcome would have been the same, but the child in Dazai only repeats, “It was his fault.”

What was In Recollections a touching, amusing scene of Osamu’s younger brother helping him paint acne medicine on his face, is transformed in No Longer Human into a horror scene of Yōzō swabbing out Takeichi’s pus-filled ears […]

[…]Dazai’s world was filled with love – failed though it mostly was – while Yōzō’s is devoid of it; and that is the difference.

In real life, the causes of Dazai’s plunge from potential solid citizen to a life of chaos were to him complicated, the threads torn and knotted – gidayuu lessons, Akutagawa’s death, the class struggle, Hatsuyo, family, guilt, resentment, fear – no wonder Dazai could not get the story right. In No Longer Human, the control afforded by pure fiction makes it neater.

About Yoshiko’s rape

Why does he feel a “bottomless horror” surpassing anything he has known so far? The answer lies in the nature of Yōzō’s character, not Yoshiko’s. Yōzō’s emotional metabolism is totally different from that of the people surrounding him. To him, they are like another race of beings; he finds their emotions wholly mysterious and impenetrable. Just once, with the trustful Yoshiko, an instant came when it seemed that he had a meeting points with these beings. Her absolute trust in him elicited an extreme response in him. He took what was for him a terrible risk, and placed his soul in her keeping. The violation of Yoshiko is the violation of her “immaculate trustfulness” – the one virtue, Yōzō confesses to himself, that he had depended on.

Oh look Lyons also compares Dazai to Camus!

Yōzō’s fatal flaw is, like that of Camus’s “outsider,”, his pathological incapacity of the self-assertion that means life.

Random quotes

Osamu is in some of the stories (as Dazai was in life) a father, but we are left with a final view of him as a fatally damaged child, not a functioning adult.

Had Dazai been a true rebel, he might have ignored outside values and proceeded on his own isolated path; and in fact, Osamu’s saying good-bye to woman at the last in the unfinished novel Good-bye shows that Dazai might have had some other idead about the possible progress of his tale.

I also randomly stumbled upon this link, which I though was interesting. It’s about the fact that Dazai left a note saying that his mentor was an “evil man” and nobody really knows why.

Ibuse was devastated. In his book on Ibuse, John Whittier Treat says that Ibuse came to write over thirty tormented works about Dazai after the latter’s death. One begins “I have no idea why Dazai died.”
Osamu Dazai and Masuji Ibuse - waggish


Thank you for taking the time to share all those notes with us! This extra context was really interesting and useful in understanding the book.


Well everyone, we made it! I have to say, when the title line finally came, it really hit me. It was quite a dense and volatile journey over the course of those 150 pages. After being on the fence about reading it, not sure if it would be worth the effort, I ended up really enjoying it. I might even come back to it again some day.

Just one question about the end of the third and final 手記:

What exactly happened with テツ at the end there? On page 143 in my copy, there’s this line:

“それから三年と少し経ち、自分はその間にそのテツという老女中に数度へんな犯され方をして 時たま夫婦喧嘩みたいな事をはじめ…”

What is going on here, exactly? Is this referring to the 下痢 incident, or another rape-like situation? I can’t really tell from the context. Also, why is it developing into a 夫婦喧嘩? Because she bought the wrong medicine? I’ve just been wary of jumping to conclusions after my big misreading from last week.

Also, where’s ヨシ子 at the new house? Guess she stayed behind in Tokyo?

Question Help

I would translate it roughly as something like “from there a little over three years passed, and in that time I was subjected to a number of strange abuses by that old maidservant named Tetsu, and sometimes arguments like a married couple would begin.”

There’s 数度 of the へんな犯され方 so presumably it’s not just the laxatives, but it doesn’t seem like he describes any others for us so I guess it’s up to your interpretation what kinds of things he might mean. I think it would be a fair interpretation to conclude he was abused sexually, but I think it would also be fair to conclude he means stuff like the laxative thing, which does seem like a malicious transgression just of a different kind. It might also just be that she’s not especially careful at her job and he doesn’t like her and isn’t used to being so under one person’s control and that might amplify perceived problems. Hard to say, and we don’t really have a lot to go on.
犯され方をして is a weird phrase from an English perspective because I don’t feel like we would use “passive” phrases exactly like that (doing ways of having had something done to you?), but I guess it would be like, “endure ways of being violated” or something.

I think the 夫婦喧嘩 part is just saying in general they sometimes quarrel like a married couple.
Since so much of the book was him ending up in various domestic relationships with women that all sour in one way or another, this part feels to me like it’s meant to be a reflection of that in that context of the consequence of his 失格 - after so many quasi-marriages the one he ends up with is this miserable facsimile with no trace whatsoever of affection or control on his part.

I get the impression the others’ putting him in the sanitarium was more of a “you need to get help, goodbye forever” kind of thing than a “get well soon and it’ll be just like it was!” kind of thing.
Also - reading back over to refresh my memory, I noticed this bit, part of where he’s talking about what his older brother said when he came to take him to the country to recuperate:


I didn’t actually get what 渋田 meant until I googled “渋田 人間失格” and found out that’s ヒラメ’s real name! Geez been a while since we would have heard that…
Anyway - it sounds like ヒラメ performed whatever it took to completely separate Yozo from his life in Tokyo, and Yozo was told to not worry about it. So that’s that for him and Yoshiko (if it wasn’t already hopeless).

I do want to talk a bit more about my thoughts at the end of the novel but I think I’ll have that be a separate post…


I have it too. It’s kinda long so I did not read it. I thought Aislin gave lots of info anyway.
Just seemed like so much info cramming.

This was a good book. The difficulty to understand was high but I kinda managed but I will need to look back at it later on. Kinda glad it’s over because of the difficulty ha ha.

I’m the one thanking you for all the infos. Must have been long to write it all.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I wanted to read it too at some point. Guess I will have to find a second hand copy


Thanks! As usual, that makes a lot of sense. I think it’s the abrupt way events unfold that makes it easy to lose the thread here.

Also, poor ヨシ子… That marriage really didn’t work well for her. :pensive:

I had similar thoughts when reading this scene, but I would go as far to say that Yoshiko is a kind of angelic, dare I say Marian, figure to Yozo and represents his last chance at redemption(when they met she literally pulled his drunk ass out of a ditch). Of course that naive delusion is quickly dashed to bits (perhaps intentionally by Horiki? Like he just wanted to show him that she was being violated without doing anything to stop it. IIRC Yozo himself wonders this too) and I think that is the point where Yozo is effectively doomed to become a “human failure” ( although it takes him being sent to the mental institution to finally admit it himself. I agree with @Jfredel78 - the title words hit hard "人間、失格。
もはや、自分は、完全に、人間で無くなりました) - even the “angel” that appeared in his life and gave him something to belief in and at least the semblance of a so-called normal life ends up defiled and ruined. For Yozo, this was the final straw. He already felt that life was incomprehensible before this, and now to make matters worse he finds that his efforts to believe in something also just end in failure and indeed emptiness.

Over all a bit of a downer, but I really enjoyed reading this novel and will likely return to it in the future.


I said in the extensive reading thread:

I joined my first book club! But never was actually on schedule… I started 人間失格 which the advanced club is reading because I was already familiar with (albeit not especially high on) the book from the Junji Ito adaptation, so I was browsing the threads idly, and someone posted a passage with a question that I had fun reading and answering and it turned out after the mystery novels I was very hungry for something capital L Literary with not just detail but like, insinuations and meanderings and metaphors and stuff.
Now I’ve finished the book, and while I’ll try to save thoughts for when the club actually ends, in general I enjoyed the writing and think the original is much better than the adaptation (through no real fault of Ito - it just benefits from prose), but was (as expected) not especially into the large middle parts of the book that could be reductively described as “sad jerk tells us about his ex-girlfriends.” I’d be curious to read other Dazai at some point down the line.

To expand upon that now…

Hidden Details because it's nothing but rambling about my own perspective

I recently turned 27, which made the stinger line at the end of Yozo’s narrative especially impactful and invites comparison. And I appreciate a lot that the end of the frame story I think emphasizes that, while of course that particular detail is a coincidence on my part, the “hey, so… what do you make of this guy?” effect of the book is intentional. I think I would have been a lot more uncomfortable without the frame story, because it would have been easy to interpret Yozo as just a grim author surrogate. Like, I found it genuinely a bit reassuring to get to the end and find that proof that yes, Dazai can step out of that mindset still, and that Yozo’s meant as a complicated literary character to consider and not just a tool for what Dazai wants to tell us about How Things Are.
And with how Yozo comes across as like a reflection of Dazai’s life read in the most pessimistic light, it makes a lot of sense that Dazai would be so invested in the question of what to make of him!

(the above also is I think a lot of why the Ito adaptation falters - images just feel more like they’re meant to be the real thing as it happened, I guess. So it’s a lot harder to convey the “this is an artifact of one person’s perspective” feeling.)

As for me - on the one hand, there’s plenty I relate to about Yozo.
There’s a certain… bewilderment, with which he moves through life. You never really get a sense of strong intentional ambition or drive, he just kind of goes with the flow and ends up in situations and seems sort of surprised by it.
That reminds me a lot of how I feel about most of my life up until like, college (and to a lesser extent even now) - I don’t think of anything I did when I was a kid or teenager as like, choices I made, it’s just stuff that happened. The school I went to was the one that made the most sense logistically, the job I have is just the one that seemed to fit what I was good at and could get. I relate to how Yozo seems mainly concerned with whatever his current situation happens to be, and how he just plugs away at whatever that is until it suddenly changes or implodes, I guess is what I mean.

And I feel like going along with that, there’s a fundamental tendency for Yozo to attribute everything that happens - including things he does - to circumstance. Like, it’s not that he went to X school or Y hospital, it’s that Z family member set it up for him. It’s not that he ran out on the single mom, it’s that his internal troubles so overwhelmed him that he had to. That kind of thing - none of it’s him, it’s all just a push/pull of what will cause him pain or give him solace from that big existential malady that plagues him throughout.
And that’s something I relate to too, just in more of a “survivor’s guilt” kind of way - I feel like it worked out pretty dang easily for me (so far), not through any virtue of my own, just entirely how it ended up happening. With slightly different parameters - a worse school, a worse job market to graduate in, COVID at a worse time, any number of other things, my life would be different and probably harder and I don’t know how I would have dealt with that because I don’t know how I dealt with this one.
I guess what I mean is - having a confused and uncertain relationship with one’s own agency in one’s life is something I can relate to! Even if it’s in more of a “boy I sure lucked out on that one” way than a “I was specifically marked as different and doomed from the start” kind of way.

Buuuuuut I kinda don’t feel like Yozo was that much of an いい子.
Like - yes, a lot of that misfortune and pain surely is indeed not his fault due to – whatever’s going on mental health wise and the complete lack of recognition or support he was given along the way. And I do certainly buy that the character was great at maintaining an acceptable and fun-to-be-around (and non-violent or even aggressive) personality. (and I don’t think that was as much of an act as he came to think it was)
But it seems like he thinks of people, especially women, exclusively in terms of being a tempting balm for his own pain until they explode into frustrating problems. Which, even accounting for his situation, seems like a really crappy way to think of people to me. And like, does anyone he’s close to come away from that relationship having gotten something positive out of it?? One died! And he didn’t even have the courtesy to remember her name or not make stupid puns about it!!
I don’t know that whatever’s going on with Yozo absolves him of that or excuses it. And Dazai’s own choice to make “女” as some general concept in that context like, one of the central themes of the book is also very strange to me. Seems to me like if he’d wanted to understand humans so bad he coulda started with not treating women like this weird separate thing to get fixated on! But hey.

If there’s something that Yozo 失格’d that I feel like I can at least feel confident in getting a C- in, I think it’s that I figured that out - that crushes weren’t just objects to fixate on because they make you feel good but like, people to hang out with on equal terms and that’s still cool even if you don’t understand everything about them.
But I don’t know that that’s what specifically caused Yozo’s particular downfall (much less Dazai’s). And it goes to show life/society/humanity/whatever’s a pretty horrifying teacher if it won’t even bother to mark what, if anything you got wrong.

I think I remember @Aislin mentioning preferring Dazai’s other works? And I think I’d probably be in the same boat. Certainly curious to try them! Since if I’ve got any problems with the book, it’s definitely not the prose.

The novel definitely passes the criteria of being food for thought! And I enjoyed reading it and participating in the book club quite a bit more than I would have thought. So I’m glad it worked out and I’m looking forward to 乳と卵!


Thanks for lengthy review/sharing :heart_eyes: It was really interesting to read, especially since your perspective is so different to mine, and we relate to/are frustrated with Yozo in completely different places :laughing:
(but I also hate how he treats women)

Yes, but the main problem is, these are short stories, so it’s hard to recommend one specific “book”, because I don’t think they were released in fixed collections.

If you want to see how “a strong woman character” looks in Dazai’s version, then I recommend either ヴィヨンの妻 (short story) or 斜陽 (novel). The problem I had with 斜陽, though, is that it’s very slow paced - and it’s supposed to be, because it’s a book about post-war slump, but for me it was a bit hard to read.
ヴィヨンの妻 is shorter, so the action is faster, too.
And I don’t necessarily agree with women’s choices in the above works. :wink:

(only short stories below)
My personal favs are 畜犬談, 服装に就いて and 駈込み訴え.
The first two are still ranting about life problems, but the topics are much less grandiose (cynophobia and clothes, respectively) and the overall mood is lighter, too. Problems are still described in an emotional, over-the-top way, but here it results in more comedic effect.
駈込み訴え I think I mentioned before either in ABC or 人間失格 home thread - it’s written from Judas’ POV, about why he betrayed Jesus, and Judas sounds here like a grumpy boyfriend being angry at his partner.

More classic/typical Dazai which I liked would be 富嶽百景 (it describes Dazai’s stay at Misaka Pass and how his second marriage was arranged). 2nd place would go to another ~景, 東京八景.
As in the titles, the first is about Dazai’s thoughts related to Fuji, and the second about his Tokyo memories.

眉山 is an interesting one, because it ends on an empathetic note where Dazai and his drinking companions actually feel a little guilty about not being nice enough to someone.

And there is 女生徒 where the narrator is a teenager girl. It’s written in a stream of consciousness mode.

If you decide to read any of the above (or any Dazai at all), be sure to let me know :blush:
And I hope I didn’t mess up while checking the Japanese titles