The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai, translated by Donald Keene / ISBN 9780811234443 / 192-page hardback from New Directions
Now in a beautiful gift cloth edition, a masterpiece of postwar Japanese literature
This powerful novel of a nation in social and moral crisis was first published by New Directions in 1956. Set in the early postwar years, The Setting Sun probes the destructive effects of war and the transition from a feudal Japan to an industrial society. The influence of Osamu Dazai’s novel has made “people of the setting sun” a permanent part of the Japanese language, and his heroine, Kazuko, a young aristocrat who deliberately abandons her class, a symbol of the anomie which pervades so much of the modern world.
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.