Naoya Shiga: 暗夜行路 (A Dark Night’s Passing)

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The latest addition to my website is Naoya Shiga‘s 暗夜行路 (A Dark Night’s Passing). This novel, written in the I-novel style, is a semi-autobiographical/confessional novel about Kensaku Tokito, a would-be novelist, who struggles to settle down, to find his place and to come to terms with his life and the world round him. His mother died when he was six and he still misses her. At that time he went to live with his grandfather and his grandfather’s mistress Oei and, as an adult, he still lives with Oei, well after his grandfather’s death. In the early part of the novel, he spends his time drinking and visiting geisha houses and brothels, living off an inheritance. He then goes off to live at a resort, away from Tokyo, and tries to write but he is lonely. He still misses his mother and also Oei, to whom he proposes. Though his proposal is rejected, he still lives with her for a while, before moving to Kyoto. There he finally he meets a woman whom he loves and who accepts his proposal but the marriage does not work out and his attempt to find peace through Buddhism is also not too successful. Shiga gives us an excellent novel of a young man who cannot fit in and find his place, like many a twentieth century literary hero, and it has now become a classic of twentieth century Japanese literature.

2 Replies to “Naoya Shiga: 暗夜行路 (A Dark Night’s Passing)”

  1. I’ve had a copy of this on my shelves for so long now (I was planning to get to it this January/February, but it got bumped for a few shiny review copies…). Sounds like it’s definitely worth a try 🙂

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