This week I’m going to divide my trivia into 2 parts, because I need to speed up a little, if I’m going to finish my book on time, with book club’s final week.
And it’s easier for me to manage this in smaller portions.
Trivia Week 8, Part 1 The Saga of Dazai Osamu by Phyllis I. Lyons
chapters: The Journey Outward , Establishing the Writer
Last week I said that after his first marriage was a failure, Dazai wanted to have his second marriage arranged.
The person who found him wife was his mentor, Ibuse Masuji. First try was a failure:
Ibuse’s abortive attempt to arrange a match with the daughter of the proprietor of a bar he and Dazai frequented, after her parents had asked him if he knew of some suitable young man (“When we said anyone would do, we didn’t mean Dazai!”)
The next try was a success.
She was Ishihara Michiko, twenty-six, well-educated – and teaching at an upper school for girls in Kōfu, at the base of Misaka Pass. […] In July, he [Dazai] and Michiko moved to Mitaka, just outside Tokyo, where they were to live until his death, except for a period at the end of the war when they evacuated to Tsugaru as refugees from the air raids in Tokyo.
Because of the quotes within the quote I decided to make a photo of the next part as I thought it would be clearer to read:
Dazai’s life after this second marriage was surprisingly stable and to people then who weren’t spoilered by his biography it might even looked like he matured and calmed down for good. He was able to support himself financially by his writing, and very proud of this:
“Now I live by my writing. When I am on a trip, I write in a inn register, without equivocation, Occupation: Writer.”
He even was even recognized enough to be giving lectures at Niigata College or Tokyo Commercial University.
He also had kids, which is a scary thought for me. One of his daughters, who was born a year before his final suicide, even became a writer herself (Yūko Tsushima - Wikipedia).
It was during that time that he tried to reconcile with his family and Tsugaru area in general, which will be the topic of the Week 8, Part 2
The last few weeks I’ve been preoccupied with a sudden (but voluntary) house move, so I wasn’t catching up as quickly as I’d hoped, until I was in the “just waiting” phase at which point I overcompensated and read the whole book.
So hopefully it still counts as technically participating in my first book club even if still manage to at no point actually be on the right pace.
I remember one thing I wanted to mention from this part, if only to make sure nobody misses it - his silly pun pen name - 上司幾太「情死、生きた」. I assume of course the only way to properly translate that is to footnote it or just explain it in the parentheses, but I kind of wish I could get to read the foolhardy version where they swing for the fences and try to come up with an English pun to match.
The best I’ve managed to come up with so far is Sir. Vivor O. Pact or maybe Trystan Liv. Seems like risky territory lest it become to morbid though…
I’d also be curious to read over the poems again more closely. Those are a whole other translation problem…
Well, you were on track during that week’s assignment, so no worries at all
These book clubs are not trying to limit you but to support you. And if you decide to go a different route, that’s excellent! I think especially at the Advanced Club level the support aspect becomes weaker and weaker.
The only hard rule would be not to spoil the others regarding upcoming events, and a soft rule might be to join in the discussion (which you did already), so you look like a perfectly fine book club member to me
Yeaaah I kind of skipped those I have to say.
But so he says they are from ルバイヤット which seems to refer to a collection of Persian poems. And I tried skimming through them to see if I could recognize some from the book. But according to a footnote in the French translation, they are not actually from the Rubaiyat but merely in the same style.
These poems were hard to read and I also just skimmed over them. I looked carefully at the first one but lost energy afterward. Always had trouble with poem so…
This week spoiler
Apart from the existential crisis about leaving rice on your plate, it was nice. He just married again after being saved and promised to know drink anymore only to drink back the next day. What happens to the person he was living with? DId they just go their separate way or have I missed something.
I always feel like the main storyline is in shamble ha ha. Old books always seem to me like a collection of random events kinda linked together.
I just skimmed through the poems too cuz they looked a bit 面倒臭い, but when I have some extra time I might try looking at them a bit more carefully.
What happens to the person he was living with? DId they just go their separate way or have I missed something.
Our hero went out on a bender and then shows up at the apartment in bad shape, hears the voices of Shizuko and Shigeko playing and having fun without him, and then decides he doesn’t want to ruin their happiness. So he leaves them and finds somewhere else to stay.
Trivia Week 8, Part 2 The Saga of Dazai Osamu by Phyllis I. Lyons
chapter: Going Home
Some random stuff I thought was interesting
More important, art in position of command partakes more of authority than of art. This is the philosophic basis of Dazai’s instinctive reaction to writers like Shiga and Kawabata: by virtue of the very supremacy they are granted by the literary establishment or the world at large, they are inimical to the development of the individual artistic voice. Dazai saw himself as weak voice crying in the wilderness – but a voice that spoke artistic truth. Weakness was his subject (as he decided in “These Days”), and weakness was his means.
Mishima Yukio’s antipathy toward Dazai apparently stemmed from such conflict. He was taken one evening in 1947 to join Dazai, whom he admired, and a group of “disciples.” Mishima had hoped to talk literature, Dazai was clearly bent on drinking as much as he could in as short time as possible. Mishima challenged Dazai: “I dislike your writing.” Dazai reportedly disarmed the twenty-two-year-old man’s attack by murmuring, “But he must like me, otherwise he wouldn’t be here.” Mishima never forgot the incident.
In “Sakka no techou”, Dazai had written about his childhood unhappiness at receiving special favor because he was the “master’s” son. A circus had come to town, and all the children were chased away while trying to sneak in; he alone had been given a guided tour and shown all the animals. He was miserable, wanting only to be outside with the other children.
First reunion with Tsugaru was a party Dazai was invited to, a banquet sponsored by the Tokyo office of a Tsugaru newspaper, for natives of the northern region working in the arts:
He had issues with feeling at ease at his family home:
Thinking it improper to just wander around the house as if he belonged there, he asks where the bathroom is. Eiji looks quizzically at him, and Mr. Kita laughs, “What a thing to ask – in your own home!” Here once again he comes up against what he sees as his sad fate: actions he undertakes after the most exquisite considerations and for the most scrupulous of reasons are misunderstood as weird by people who are unaware of his tortured logic.
But at the end, it works out somehow and even if it’s not perfect, his ties with his family are somehow mended. He also found a new way to define himself, through his homeland:
Dazai would never be an island, free of the pressures of authority. But in “Tsugaru” he develops a protection: a concept of the soul of Tsugaru as being one of resistance and wild emotional excess hidden within otherwise sober men. The people of Tsugaru love with an intensity beyond that of other Japanese; and that blood flows within him, primitive, uncivilized, misunderstood by outsiders, but genuine. Dazai feels that even Bunji, for all his elegant, withdrawn, surface coolness, partakes of this nature; he recognizes it in “My Older Brothers” and “Hometown,” and the recognition is what makes possible Dazai’s pity for his brother, trapped in a role that closed him to emotional expression.
Later he will travel to Tsugaru again, to write, welp, “Tsugaru” (津軽 (小説) - Wikipedia). And then he will be forced to live there for some time as a refugee because of wartime air raids.
The next bit is about “Tsugaru” ending, which is about reunion with his nursemaid, Take. I found it interesting because Take’s version of events was completely different from Dazai’s narration:
I actually liked those poems! They felt like a welcome break from the ever present, somewhat depressing ruminations of our narrator. Especially the first one was nice and short, and a bit like a breath of fresh air.
Even with the poems (that 2nd one required a couple lookups) this week’s part felt a bit easier to read than the previous ones, too.
Aww. Very understandable since that would be a pin to get across in a different language, but still a shame. I wish they’d put at least the footnote.
Ha ha, at the time it was pretty hard to follow everything and I looked up lots of words so I got lazy and just skim over them to make it easier. Poems are hard to read and harder to understand so I just gave up.