『満願(まんがん)』by Osamu Dazai

Reading material

About Osamu Dazai

Osamu Dazai was a highly influential Japanese author whose literary contributions remain significant in the realms of modern Japanese literature. Born in 1909, Dazai gained widespread acclaim for his compelling exploration of the human psyche and emotional landscapes in his works.

His narratives often delved into the inner turmoil of characters, capturing themes of existential angst, alienation, and the complexities of human relationships. Dazai’s most famous work, “No Longer Human” (“Ningen Shikkaku”), is a semi-autobiographical novel that deeply examines the struggles of the protagonist with a sense of detachment from society, battling a profound sense of isolation and inadequacy.

Another notable work, “The Setting Sun” (“Shayo”), portrays the disintegration of traditional Japanese values in the aftermath of World War II, showcasing the struggles of a declining aristocratic family in a changing society.

Dazai’s writing style is revered for its eloquence, introspection, and profound philosophical underpinnings. His ability to intertwine personal struggles with broader societal issues has earned him a lasting legacy as one of Japan’s most celebrated literary figures. Tragically, Dazai’s own life ended prematurely in 1948, but his works continue to resonate with readers worldwide, offering poignant reflections on the human condition.



英語(English translation)

This is a story from four years ago. It was during the summer when I lived on the second floor of an acquaintance’s house in Mishima, Izu, and was writing a novel called ‘Romanesque.’ One night, while intoxicated, I rode my bicycle around town and got injured. I tore the upper part of my right ankle. It wasn’t a deep wound, but due to being intoxicated, the bleeding was severe, so I hurried to see a doctor. The town doctor was thirty-two years old, large and stout, resembling Saigo Takamori. He was quite drunk. He appeared in the examination room as unsteady on his feet as I was, which struck me as amusing. While receiving treatment, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Then the doctor also started chuckling, and eventually, unable to contain ourselves, we burst into laughter together.

We became good friends from that night onward. The doctor preferred philosophy over literature. Speaking about that topic made conversation easy and enjoyable for me. His worldview could be described as a kind of primal dualism, viewing the state of the world as a battle between good and evil forces, which was quite captivating. Although I secretly endeavored to believe in a singular god of love, hearing the doctor’s theory of good and evil would bring a refreshing sensation to my somewhat troubled heart.

For instance, when I visited one evening, the doctor, who immediately ordered his wife to fetch beer to entertain me, was considered the ‘good’ force, while his wife, proposing with a laugh, ‘Tonight, instead of beer, shall we play bridge?’ was considered the ‘bad’ force in the doctor’s illustration. I found myself in agreement with the doctor’s argument. His wife was petite, with a round face, and she carried an elegant demeanor with fair skin. They had no children, but there was a quiet young man, the wife’s younger brother attending a commercial school in Numazu, who stayed on the second floor.

At the doctor’s house, they subscribed to five different newspapers, so nearly every morning, I would stop by during my walk to read them. Going around to the back entrance, I’d sit on the veranda, sipping the cold barley tea brought by the wife, while holding down the rustling newspapers against the wind to read. The veranda was just a stone’s throw away from a grassy field, where a stream flowed gently. Every morning, a young milk delivery man on a bicycle would pass by along the narrow road alongside that stream, greeting me with a “Good morning.” There was also a young woman who came around that time to pick up medicine. She wore simple clothes and wooden clogs, appearing quite neat. She often shared laughs with the doctor in the examination room, and sometimes the doctor would loudly scold her at the door, saying, “Madam, please wait a little longer.

The doctor’s wife once explained to me the reason behind this. She was the wife of an elementary school teacher. The teacher had suffered from lung problems three years prior, but recently, he had been steadily improving. The doctor worked tirelessly and strictly forbade his young wife about the critical nature of his current condition. The wife obeyed this directive. However, sometimes, she seemed somewhat anxious. Each time this happened, the doctor steeled himself and would scold her, saying something along the lines of, “Madam, please wait a little longer,” implying a deeper meaning.

At the end of August, I witnessed something beautiful. In the morning, as I sat on the veranda of the doctor’s house reading a newspaper, the doctor’s wife, sitting beside me, softly whispered, “Ah, how joyful she seems.”

Suddenly, I raised my head and saw a figure in simple attire, walking briskly along the path right in front of us. She twirled a white parasol as she walked swiftly.

“This morning, she was given a permission to go out as usual,” the doctor’s wife whispered again.

Three years—it’s just a brief phrase, yet my heart was overwhelmed. With passing years, that woman’s figure seemed increasingly beautiful to me. Perhaps, it might be due to the doctor’s wife’s understanding.



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