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  • ★★★★-4.5

Review: No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai (Spoiler-Free)

Am I what they call an egoist? Or am I the opposite, a man of excessively weak spirit? I really don't know myself, but since I seem in either case to be a mass of vices, I drop steadily, inevitably, into unhappiness, and I have no specific plan to stave off my descent.

Well thank God I didn't read this in my freshman year of college!

I can understand why some people find this book frustrating. It's written from the perspective of a severely depressed man who sees himself as an outcast from society. He has no sense of purpose, is incapable of forming meaningful connections, and sees women as big wads of cotton he can use to plug himself up. This is the case throughout his entire life, the numbness never seeming to ebb.

I've felt this way before, though thankfully only for one year. But I still understand how it's so isolating, so all-consuming, and so irrationally blinding. As a reader, you want to reach into this book and shake Yozo, to scream, "You're a self-fulfilling prophecy! Your predisposed disdain for the world is precisely what's causing you to hate it!" But that's not the whole problem, is it?

It's clear that this novel is semi-autobiographical, Osamu Dazai pulling from moments of his life that led up to his suicide. Through Yozo, he's able to convey with aching accuracy the knot of nothingness that is depression. I was captivated by the descriptions of his cover act of "clownery" and the stomach-dropping terror he felt when someone realized he was faking it. Terror was truly what it was, though not necessarily about the clownery. He was petrified, truly shaken, by the idea that someone might realize he was broken.

The structure is also a highlight of this novel, though I won't ruin the experience for you if you haven't read it yet. I'll just say I appreciate it and that the epilogue hits much harder because of it.

Of course I must conclude this review by saying thank you to the lovely Maya for the recommendation. Am I concerned that two of your favorite books are this and The Bell Jar? Slightly. But to be fair, I think I'm gonna love that one too ;)


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