To put it simply, The Setting Sun is a story about post-war Japan struggling and torn between Western modernization and deep aristocratic values.
The main character is Kazuko, a 29-year old daughter of an aristocrat who lives with her mother and brother and now have fallen on hard times. There are times when I find Kazuko difficult to understand but that’s okay, I find there are a lot like her in the world. I love every part of the book with the mother and so it was really sad when she died.
I liked the idea of Naoji’s letters that served as flashbacks before he committed suicide. It’s sad, really sad, though it did not surprise me at all. Through this letters, we discover his struggles in an aristocratic society and post-war Japan.
This is my first Osamu Dazai book. There’s not much action really and it was really sad but definitely a pleasure to read.
“To wait. In our lives we know joy, anger, sorrow, and a hundred other emotions, but these emotions all together occupy a bare one percent of our time. The remaining ninety-nine percent is just living in waiting. I wait in momentary expectation, feeling as though my breasts are being crushed, for the sound in the corridor of the footsteps of happiness. Empty. Oh, life is too painful, the reality that confirms the universal belief that it is best not to be born.”
“When I pretended to be precocious, people started the rumor that I was precocious. When I acted like an idler, rumor had it I was an idler. When I pretended I couldn’t write a novel, people said I couldn’t write. When I acted like a liar, they called me a liar. When I acted like a rich man, they started the rumor I was rich. When I feigned indifference, they classed me as the indifferent type. But when I inadvertently groaned because I was really in pain, they started the rumor that I was faking suffering. The world is out of joint.”
“I like roses best. But they bloom in all four seasons. I wonder if people who like roses best have to die four times over again.”
“I am afraid because I can so clearly foresee my own life rotting away of itself, like a leaf that rots without falling, while I pursue my round of existence from day to day.”
“Addiction is perhaps a sickness of the spirit.”
Rating: 4/5 stars