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  • ★★★★-4

Review: The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai (Spoiler-Free)

This I want to believe implicitly: Man was born for love and revolution.

A stunning glimpse into the class system of post-war Japan and a haunting exploration of its effects on the human condition.

This is one of only a few works of Japanese literature I've read, but it's through this book that I'm starting to understand the landscape of its common styles and motifs. I really appreciate that this edition includes an introduction from the translator providing historical background on the author. It provides necessary insight into how the themes explored and ideas presented were grappled with by Dazai in his real life as well as within the text, which gives the trajectory of the story a greater impact and makes it all the more agonizing.

The prose is gorgeous. It bleeds like an open wound. Dazai doesn't shy away from the depravity we all possess. In fact, his characters ooze with the desperation for someone to notice it.

I was astounded by how affecting I found many of his passages about womanhood. Dazai manages to capture a solemnity often overlooked and successfully explores how that pent-up pain can lead to a self-inflicted and self-aware (though this does nothing to help) state of derangement.

I'm glad to have been introduced to Dazai's works (thanks Maya :)) and am excited to read No Longer Human in the near future.

'I wonder if there is anyone who is not depraved,' Naoji wrote in his notebook. Those words made me feel depraved myself, and my uncle and even Mother somehow then seemed depraved. Perhaps by depravity he actually meant tenderness.


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