Week 9: 人間失格

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Week 9


Start Date: Aug 28st
Previous Part: Week 8
Next Part: Week 10


Week Start Date Chapter / End Phrase End Page Kindle LOC Kindle % Page Count
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

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This week was longer but easier to read.

This week spoiler

My usual resume.
-The MC(Forgot his name again) rent an apartment with Yoshinoko.
-He drinks with his friends while trying to find antonyms and synonyms of words.
-They find out Yoshinoko was too trustful and sleep with a merchant. (Wasn’t explicitly said but my theory.)
-Mc is angry(kinda) about it.
-He found a label with only “dial”, left on it. A part of a business card or something.
-This is the foggy part. He is at the hospital or unconscious but not sure why. Something about poison.
-He wants to go somewhere without women.
-They go to a resort but Tsuchinoko does not go out.

Like always if my resume is wrong or missing elements please help me understand it better.
Thank you

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It 's been a little while since I read this part so I’m a little foggy on remembering myself, but refreshing while looking over the section,

some help

Kind of. I believe rather what happened is Yoshiko is assaulted.

The narrator seems to more or less get it’s not her fault, but he doesn’t like that her easy-going trust, which is the main thing he really liked about her since it gave him some solace from his demons, is now (understandably) tarnished, as she’s jumpy and sensitive.
(trying to help with the suffering and feelings of women he’s in relationships with never really seem to be on his list of priorities…)

I believe the “dial” is a type of sleeping pill - he finds enough of it to provide a lethal dose and surmises Yoshiko tried to hide it from him but didn’t know enough to scratch out the label fully (because the logo is in the Western alphabet and she couldn’t read it). He immediately takes it, which is why he ends up in the hospital.


Yes, but the thing about the assault is that it’s Horiki who does it (the narrator’s friend from way back). While they’re drinking, it comes out that Horiki just sees Yozo as a “living corpse” (生ける屍) who just uses him when he needs him for something. Basically, Horiki has despised Yozo ever since his suicide attempt, and then assualts his pure, unassuming wife to rub it in his face. This promptly ends the friendship for good.

This was my understanding of what went down with Yoshiko.

more spoiler discussion (about content warning-y stuff)

I didn’t read it as that - I think what happened is that a 商人 who came by the house is the perpetrator, but Horiki found Yoshiko first (I think while it was happening) and went and got Yozo and brought him to the scene without any warning where he saw. And so he says he bears a grudge against Horiki moreso than the actual perpetrator, because seeing her in that state is what really ruined his idyllic trusting image of her, and in his head that’s Horiki’s fault for showing him instead of just telling him or letting him never know.


(really rough translation - “moreso than anger against that merchant, it was rage and anger against Horiki who first came upon the scene and immediately brought me to the roof to show me that kept me up moaning at night”)

Like it sounds to me like to him the actual perpetrator is just some guy who’s never heard from or thought of again, and it’s just the extent of his paranoia (and misogyny) that interprets Horiki’s going to get him as some kind of wound or betrayal, moreso than the actual crime.

I think it’s easily confusing though, since that’s (characteristically) an idiosyncratic reaction to have.


I thought Horiki was the merchant, since he’s older than Yozo and (I thought) he was just doing art on the side. I’ll have to go back and reread that part though.

I’m with @rodan on this one, especially since he later wonders if the same thing hasn’t happened several times, including with Horiki (if I understand correctly: “こいつは全く警戒を知らぬ女だったから、あの商人といちどだけでは無かったのではなかろうか、また、堀木は? いや、或いは自分の知らない人とも?”)
I think Yozo also resents Horiki for not interrupting the scene when he found it (さいしょに見つけたすぐその時に大きい咳ばらいも何もせず), even though Yozo himself didn’t do anything either.
Also I remembered that this event was mentioned before in chapter 2: のちに、自分は、自分の内縁の妻が犯されるのを、黙って見ていた事さえあったほどなのです。

In any case, things are indeed turning pretty dark. In particular, poor Yoshiko being suicidal. At least it was my understanding that she hid the sleeping pills, but Keene seems to disagree (“I must have
hidden it here at some time or other in the past when I felt I
might need it” i.e. they’re Yozo’s). It doesn’t make sense to me though, as when Yozo ends up in the hospital, Yoshiko is convinced Yozo took the pills in her place (“ヨシ子は、何か、自分がヨシ子の身代りになって毒を飲んだとでも思い込んでいるらしく”).


Polish translator is supporting @rodan version. As for pills - he’s supporting Keene’s version, although I agree that this is weird.
Maybe uh, Yozo bought the pills originally, then Yoshiko found them and wanted to use them for her own suicide, but then Yozo found them again and took the pills “in her place”? :thinking:

Trivia Week 9
The Saga of Dazai Osamu by Phyllis I. Lyons
chapters: The Journey Outward, Fatal Success


During war, Dazai didn’t serve himself because of his health issues (weak lungs). Dazai also had to change his place of residence a few time because of the air raids, and eventually had to spend some time in Tsugaru as a refugee. He moved a lot even before that, and Lyons sums that up like this:

Twenty-five moves in fifteen years, twenty-five times when he has, as he puts it, “gone bankrupt,” losing everything and having to start over from scratch.

About newspapers:

[…]during the war, there was not a page in the newspaper that reported the truth; all that appeared were “painful evasions.” The only part people could believe was one small corner of one page each day: the obituary column. That told the truth.

About Dazai’s own views:

“It was peasant stubbornness. However, I am not saying here, like some people, “I never did want war. I was an enemy of the Japanese militarists. I am a liberal” – these new style opportunists who, once the war was over, immediately began attacking Tōjō and making a big racket over war guilt and the like. Now even socialism is being debased by “salon thought.” […] During the war, I was disgusted at Tōjō, and I felt contempt for Hitler; and I went around telling everyone. But at the same time, I was trying my best to be a supporter of Japan. I realized that it would probably not help one bit if someone like myself were an advocate, but I did my best for Japan. I would like to be clear on this point: right from the start, there was no hope, but Japan went on and did it.”


War and post-war period were a time of censorship, although of course different things were censored :wink: It was really absurd at times:

“Sanetomo, Minister of the Right”, finished in March (1943) at the hot springs near Kōfu, was published in September. Dazai recalls in “Fifteen Years”, published in 1946, that some superpatriot made a flap about it, reading Sanemoto’s title udaijin as yudayajin (“Jew”), and claiming Dazai was mocking the shogun by making him a Jew.

Some authors stopped writing because of censorship entirely. Dazai couldn’t afford this, but managed by shifting, for a time, focus from his own personal struggles to retelling classic tales, which was safer, because the action didn’t happen in the present day.

annotation about Shiga Naoya

In 1948, after Dazai’s death, Shiga wrote an essay absolving himself of any responsibility for Dazai’s death. With magnificent insensitivity, Shiga dismisses criticism that he had been insensitive to such famous “vulnerable” writers as Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, Oda Sakunosuke, and Dazai, and had accordingly contributed to their deaths. With the “selfishness of the home circle,” he sympathizes with the suicide’s poor wife and children and friends – but there is not a word of sympathy for the poor suicide. He sees the act as a kind of self-imposed euthanasia (about he had recently read in Reader’s Disgest); but nowhere does he express curiosity or concern about the “disease” from which the sufferer was seeking release. In his zeal to prevent any legends about his condescension toward Dazai and other young writers, Shiga if anything added fuel with his own hands.

Note from me: Actually, Lyons says in different place that Oda died of lung hemorrhage (?). It also sounds like he might have been suicidal, but it doesn’t seem like the cause of death itself was suicide (?).
Japanese Wikipedia also says:



Thanks for all the input @rodan and @miwuc. That makes more sense in retrospect. Most likely, I sensed the tension in Yozo and Horiki’s drunken banter and let my imagination run wild with it.

Dazai’s writing can be pretty open-ended and vague, which I kind of like. But then again, if it weren’t for this group, I might be reading a completely different story. :laughing:


Mhh, I just reread that part, and I have to say it could be interpreted both ways. Yozo is surprised when he finds the box, but it could be either because it was Yoshiko’s, or because it was his own but he’d completely forgotten about it. However, I searched for “人間失格 ジアール” and everything I could find assumes it was Yoshiko’s. Does anyone know a native speaker they could ask?

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I think Keene is just outright wrong about that.


My very rough direct translation:

Dial. At that time I was wholly given over to shochu and made no use of sleeping pills, but since insomnia something of a chronic condition for me, I was well familiar with common ones. There was certainly more than enough Dial in this one box for a lethal dose. It hadn’t been opened yet, but, at some point, someone had put it here with intent and even scratched out the labeling, to hide it, no doubt. Pitiably, that girl, because she couldn’t read the label’s western alphabet, scratched away half with her fingernails, and must have thought leaving it there would be okay. (you have no guilt)

It’s hard to convey the same way in English, but I think the main thing is that the hypothetical person doing this: やる気でこんなところに (bringing it to this place with intent) and this: しかもレッテルを掻きはがしたりなどして隠していた (and even scratched away the lettering and stuff to hide it) are the same person, and he makes it very clear that he believes that person is Yoshiko (あの子 - and he’s been talking plenty throughout about her 可哀想ness and lack of guilt). I don’t see how the subject doing both of those actions could completely switch in the middle of the sentence without a huge leap in logic. And the hiding is in the same breath as the scratching! So unless Yozo’s the one scratching out the label (which makes no sense) I don’t see how he could possibly be the one hiding it.
And besides, if he’d been in the habit of buying and stashing them I feel like he would have said that upfront instead of talking about how he was familiar with them from insomnia in periods when he wasn’t drinking himself to sleep.

Also - the emphasis (in my edition at least) on やる気で makes it clear it’s not an “oh maybe I’ll want to use it someday - oops I forgot about it” situation… If that’s the line Keene is translating there in the quote it seems like he sucks a lot of the wind out of that extremely grim and sad implication.

Also - if Yoshiko didn’t buy them, surely she could assume Yozo did, and in that case why would she think scratching out half the label would make any difference??

Maybe the Polish translator consulted the English translation and propagated the mistake that way? (or just made the same one).


Indeed, in Keene’s version, Yozo is also the one who scratched the label (to hide it from Yoshiko presumably). And he didn’t fully scratch out the latin letters since he knows あの子 can’t read them.

Yeah that’s a good point and I agree the tone in general makes it sound like it’s Yoshiko and that’s how I first interpreted it.


… aaaahhhh, looking at it again with that in mind I guess I can see how he got turned around. It seems like he fell prey hard to implied subjects and Dazai being tactful and not 100% connecting the dots here.

But yeah I’m pretty confident he’s completely wrong!

The paragraph just… doesn’t mean that. Hard to really pinpoint - it’s just an accumulation of little things. Like e.g. the “可哀想に、” or just… everything.
So you were right the first time! And now I’m feeling a little grumpy at translators :slight_smile:


Thx for the info as always. I knew Dazai didn’t get it easy but his life is way harder than I thought it was. Poor Dazai.

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Seconded. All these little and not so little mistakes in the translation, I really have to wonder how much time they spent proof reading.


To be fair, it does seem like a really hard job to do flawlessly. And this particular “I gotta pick a subject to use in the English sentence - it’s unstated so maybe he’s talking about himself, it does seem like something he would do” mistake is an easy one to make (I know I’ve certainly made it before) - to the point I’m not sure what proofreading could be done to have caught it. If you proofread the English version it doesn’t sound strange unless you really think about it, and if you proofread with the Japanese with the mistaken account in mind it would be harder to then realize what’s actually going on… Seems like you’d need a second pair of eyes to read the Japanese over again and form their own conclusions without the original mistake in mind to definitely catch it, and I’d be curious how often translators have access to a second party that familiar with the original.

It is really interesting how the polished facade breaks down when you have the original to compare it to though! I’ve got a big glossy hardback English edition of a manga that just has a stray completely empty word balloon floating around that somehow got overlooked that I never would have noticed if I weren’t comparing it against the Japanese version where it had words in it…

Sometimes I do still chuckle about the version of Yozo who bought pills with intent to overdose on them, poorly camouflaged them in a half-assed way from his sweet and naive partner rather than just lying to her, then completely forgot about doing any of that to the point that he not only had to rediscover his own hiding place but infer that he did all those things instead of recalling them upon being reminded by the evidence…
Gotta admit if I could believe any character might do all that, it would probably be him!