Otogizōshi: The Fairy Tale Book of Dazai Osamu

This book of Dazai was written in the spring and early summer of 1945. The story opens up with the narrator,Dazai himself, reading the story of the folktales to his children when the air raid is happening and they are in the confines of the bomb shelter.

There are four stories in this book of fairy tales; The Stolen Wen, Urashima-san, Click-Clack Mountain and The Sparrow Who Lost Her Tongue, in which Dazai attacks and analyzes the characters, the plot and the relevance of the story and the impact of it in children during his time. He compulsively reflects and projects his real-life concerns in the book and persistently provides commentaries on the events of the stories, ultimately retells the stories and add more depth to the characters and the plot. The theme that is uniform across Dazai’s novels–the apathetic acceptance of loneliness (which is found heavily in No Longer Human) is also established in this book; it is a classic Dazai theme where the main character does not find sustenance with his surroundings thus resigned to live his/her life in loneliness and “desirelessness”. An example would be the princess in Urashima-san, who owns leagues and leagues of land but is content on smiling at people and proceeds to staying in her chambers not thinking of anything and not talking to anybody; as well as the man in The Sparrow Who Lost Her Tongue who “spends the rest of the day in his desk, wriggling on his cushion or nodding off or jerking awake until dinnertime and hits the sack thereafter”. An additional theme that is also present, is the appearance of utopia, places of reprieve where the characters find themselves free to do what they please (the story of Urashima-san when he finds the Dragon Palace), a place you can find warmth that you cannot have at home (the Sparrows Inn in The Sparrow Who Lost Her Tongue). None of this is permanent, of course, but the characters are transformed and have found peace in themselves when they leave the utopia.

This is my 4th story of Dazai and so far, it doesn’t disappointment. His place in the Japanese literature is well deserved. Highly recommended!

Advertisements

the diary of anais nin volume 1: 1931-1934 / anais nin

This volume encompasses her friendship with Henry Miller and his wife June, her complicated relationship with her father, her interest in psychoanalysis and her struggle as an artist. She immensely talks about the self, and her search for the woman, Anais. She writes, “I have always been tormented by the image of multiplicity of selves. Some days I call it richness, and other days I see it as a disease, a proliferation as dangerous as cancer. My first concept about people around me was that all of them were coordinated into a WHOLE, whereas I was made up of a multitude of selves, of fragments.” I am mesmerized with her insights about the facets of woman penned with so much candor and passion.

Anais Nin is absolutely the writer I endeavor to become. She writes beautifully, elegantly and articulately. Even the most tedious thing that happen in her life comes alive because of her mastery with words. She is drunk with life. Whenever I read her diary, it gives me such a feverish delusion that I could write like her, too.

I could only wish I was less critical of my own writing to write freely and unbound as she did. This is a deeply powerful read–I recommend it to all women readers.

Wait. How does one even review a diary? I am doing her no justice.

PS: The fact that this is an expurgated diary eluded me. I feel really daft. HAHA

 

penguin little black classics 04 – 06

18579913_1604875056222468_4432638160526114816_nPENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 4
Author:
 Thomas De Quincey

Title: On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts

Summary: The provocative early-nineteenth-century essayist casts a blackly comic eye over the aesthetics of murder through the ages.

My Thoughts: So this book is about a group of gentlemen discussing about the aesthetics of murder. This is in satire form. But you know, all satire’s lost on me except of course Animal Farm (which is a great book BTW). Much to my disappointment, there was no detailed gore in this book.

Rating: 2/5 stars

 

18645117_1495150223858197_439353335946936320_nPENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 5
Author:
 Friedrich Nietzsche

Title: Aphorisms on Love and Hate

Summary: The iconoclastic German philosopher’s blazing maxims on revenge, false pity and the drawbacks of marriage.

My Thoughts: Honestly, this is a poor example of Nietzsche’s philosophising. This is too short and you can’t even comprehend some of the things that he’s trying to say. This review is only for this edition. I believe that you should not pass up reading this great work!

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

PENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 616465812_1088160864617895_9037367165157638144_n
Author:
 John Ruskin

Title: Traffic

Summary: The radical Victorian art critic’s excoriating defence of dignity and creativity in a world obsessed by money.

My Thoughts: Traffic is like a college minor subject you have to go through to get credits. For what it’s worth, I did enjoy and agree to some points but that’s about it. It would’ve been nice to listen to the audio as this is a lecture. It’s difficult to read it off a page.

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

P.S.  I have reached an impasse with these little black classics. My goal was to read through all of them by the end of the year but the last few have been quite painful to read. So the best thing would probably be to just read 2-3 books per month and I think I need to dedicate a few hours just to read it. I’m starting to think that it was not a good idea to get the entire collection.

penguin little black classics 01 – 03

I opted to just review three Penguin Little Black Classics books in one post, as my reviews for this series is usually short. So here is my review for Books No. 1 to No. 3.

PENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 1

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
“You’re not doing anything to me,” said the Priest, “but you don’t let me do what I’d like to you, which is love my neighbour as god commanded.”

Title: Mrs. Rosie and the Priest

Author: Giovanni Boccaccio

Summary: Bawdy tales of pimps, cuckolds, lovers and clever women from the fourteenth-century Florentine masterpiece The Decameron.

My Thoughts: Who knew 14th century literature could be so lewd! These short stories came from the Florentine book The Decameron. Humor as one of the main points decided that I should get the complete work. It is lighthearted and good for the weary heart.

Rating: 4/5 stars

PENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 2

Title: As kingfishers catch fire

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
“As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s”

 

Author: Gerard Manley Hopkins

Summary: Considered unpublishable in his lifetime, the Victorian priest’s groundbreaking, experimental verse on nature’s glory and despair.

My Thoughts: This one is just bad haiku. You tend to set a mind frame when you read something like ‘consered unpublishable in his lifetime” but I’m sorry Gerard but I think your poems are far too religious for my taste. Included in this little book are diary entries that still didn’t catch my eyes. These poems are difficult to understand and I did not enjoy them to be honest.

Rating: 2/5 stars

PENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 3

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
“This is the saga of Hrafn and of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue, as told by the priest Ari Thorgilsson the Learned, who was the most knowledgeable of stories of the settlement and other ancient lore of anyone who has lived in Iceland.”

Title: The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

Author: Anon

Summary: Ranging across Scandinavia, England and Ireland, a Viking-age epic of two poets in doomed pursuit of Helga the Fair.

My Thoughts: Who doesn’t like tales of princesses and warriors? This a story of Gunnlaug, a viking poet-warrior and Hrafn. He meets the most beautiful woman, Helga the Fair and asks for her hand in marriage. But of course, Helga’s father disagreed and tells Gunnlaug to come back when he’s mature. Hrafn finds out about this arrangement and steals Helga. The plot thickens at this point and ends in a fatal disaster. This is my first time reading about Scandinavian literature. I found it hard to get around too because of the torrent of names being thrown at you. It’s a good read if you’re a fan of adventures.

Rating: 2/5 stars

book review: possession / a.s. byatt

 

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
“The book was thick and covered with dust. It’s boards were bowed and creaking; it had been maltreated in its own time.”

Book Title: Possession

Author: A. S. Byatt

Theme: Romance

How It All Goes Down:  The story opens up in London Library in the autumn of 1986. Sitting in the library is a postgraduate in literature, Roland Michell, poring over a dusty old book previously owned by a celebrated-poet (fictional) in the 19th century. He then finds two drafts of letter addressed to some woman. Shocked and thrilled by this discovery, he slips the drafts of letter into his own book and leaves the library and decides to seek the mystery woman.

My thoughts:

The first part 300 pages of the book was dragging that I thought of not finishing it but eventually came to enjoy reading and loving it. The writing is eloquent and the plot is masterfully written. Being a romantic, I daresay this is one of the most remarkable book I’ve read in awhile.

“Never have I felt such a concentration of my whole being – on one object, in one place, at one time – a blessed eternity of momentariness that went on forever – it seemed.”

“I have dreamed nightly of your face and walked the streets of my daily life with the rhythms of your writing singing in my silent brain. I have called you my Muse, and so you are, or might be, a messenger from some urgent place of the spirit where essentially poetry sings and sings. I could call you with my greater truth – my Love – there, it is said – for I most certainly love you and in all ways possible to man and most fiercely. It is a love for which there is no place in this world – a love my diminished reason tells me can and will do neither of us, a love I tried to hied cunningly from, to protect you from, with all the ingenuity at my command.” 

“No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed.”

To understand this more clearly, there are two timelines in this story, that of the nineteenth-century poets and the 20th century literary scholars, that is essentially interweaves with each other. The story between the Victorian poets fills my heart with so much passion and I too, was possessed, wanting to know more of what happened to them. As Roland and Maud, discovers the truth behind the poets, you will be slowly immersed into British, European and Scandinavian literature and storytelling.

This book is a reminder of how good it is to fall in love with books and the joy of reading. I definitely recommend this to fans of romance and the Victorian era.

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

goodbye tsugumi / banana yoshimoto – a visual

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

“…those scenes on the beach had an aura of sadness about them that struck chords somewhere deep within me, filling my chest with pain.”

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

“It’s a marvelous thing, the ocean. For some reason when two people sit together looking out at it, they stop caring whether they talk or stay silent. You never get tired of watching it. And no matter how rough the waves get, you’ve never bothered by the noise the water makes or by the commotion of the surface–it never seem too loud, or too wild.”

“And it seemed to me that even if you weren’t actively letting your emotions ride its surface, the ocean will tell you on giving you something, teaching you some sort of lesson.”

18987368_1527385360645989_1209210901_o

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

“I guess when you’re out of the ocean and you see the piers way off in the distance, shrouded in mist, you understand this very clearly: No matter where you are, you’re always a bit on your own, always an outsider.”

“I get the feeling that in towns near the sea the rain falls in a more hushed, lonely way than in other places. Perhaps the ocean absorbs the sound?”

18986608_1527397583978100_469193949_o

all quotes from the Goodbye Tsugumi / Banana Yoshimoto.

 

most anticipated read 2016

 

book mails are the best!

18986278_1525958767455315_758956768_o i got this book this afternoon and i couldn’t be happier. i have been a fan of osamu dazai since i have seen the anime aoi bungaku. i didn’t want to finish it as i’ve decided to get the books.

i was in the japanese bookstagram community for the past few weeks and i absolutely fell in love with the japanese covers of books – their minimalistic approach to it.

this book is one of my most anticipated reads this 2016. i’ve read no longer human, his controversial work but i’ve read in a few articles that the setting sun is the highlight of his writing career. i am one for doom and gloom books and osamu dazai is just the  man.

osamu dazai committed suicide after “no longer human” was published. that book was believed to be his autobiography. speculations arise when some of the aspects in the books actually reflected his life. although, we may not know that.

his books are depressing. i felt my mood gradually dampen as i was reading that book and i wanted to see if this one lived up to the masterpiece that everyone is talking about.

i like to read challenging books, books that will derange my thoughts.

i’ll try to keep sane. 😀

xoxo cherie