No Longer Human - Osamu Dazai

New Directions

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No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai, translated by Donald Keene / ISBN 9780811232432 / 192-page hardback from New Directions

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Now in a gift cloth edition, No Longer Human ponders profound alienation

Mine has been a life of much shame. I can’t even guess myself what it must be to live the life of a human being.

Portraying himself as a failure, the protagonist of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human narrates a seemingly normal life even while he feels himself incapable of understanding human beings. His attempts to reconcile himself to the world around him begin in early childhood, continue through high school, where he becomes a “clown” to mask his alienation, and eventually lead to a failed suicide attempt as an adult. Without sentimentality, he records the casual cruelties of life and its fleeting moments of human connection and tenderness. Still one of the ten bestselling books in Japan, No Longer Human is an important and unforgettable modern classic: “The struggle of the individual to fit into a normalizing society remains just as relevant today as it was at the time of writing.” (The Japan Times)

OSAMU DAZAI was born in 1909 into a powerful landowning family of Northern Japan. A brilliant student, he entered the French Department of Tokyo University in 1930, but later boasted that in the five years before he left without a degree he had never attended a lecture. Dazai was famous for confronting head-on the social and moral crises of postwar Japan when he committed suicide by throwing himself into Tokyo’s Tamagawa Reservoir. His body was found on what would have been his 39th birthday.

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