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Seventeen & J

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  211 ratings  ·  15 reviews
"In Seventeen the story of a lonely seventeen year old who turns to a right-wing group for self-esteem and J the story of a spoiled, young, drifter son of a Japanese executive Oe shows us a world where the values that had regulated life had been blown to smithereens along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki: what confronts his heroes now is a gaping emptiness." "Seventeen's lost y ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Foxrock Books (first published April 1st 1996)
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Community Reviews

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A Japanese Screech from 'Saved by the Bell' is full of angst and only happy when masturbating. Then he falls in with rightists and he finds a new life through Nazi uniforms, soapland handjobs and, presumably,

Loved it. Sad that we can't read the sequel.

The first half takes us to that seam of Japanese literature I don't really enjoy. Ennui-ridden twentysomethings aimlessly drinking and having sex with each other. There's always jazz, there's usually
J was too unpleasant. Could not related to it at all or enter into the story. I would give it only one star. Seventeen was also unpleasant, but at least Oe had a purpose in showing the unpleasant character: He was imagining what the seventeen year old who escapes his loneliness and self loathing by joining a right wing political group and assassinating a political leader before committing suicide. I didn't really like the story, but can concede that Oe does effectively show how an unhappy person ...more
right wing brainwashing of the youth + groping on trains = nobel prize in literature. super fast read and super good.
It's my introduction to Ōe and he certainly had an interesting take on the interplay of sex/politics and private/public life. The two novels deal with sexual perverts and how they become entangled with the politics of the day. They were said to cause a sensation when they were first published in Japan in the early 60s. They still maintain their shock value in terms of graphic descriptions. I'm hoping that Ōe will allow the publication of "A Political Youth Dies", the sequel to Seventeen, which h ...more
Petra Psohlavcová
Seventeen *****
Příběh o čerstvě sedmnáctiletém chlapci/muži, který si začíná uvědomovat své místo na světě a stane se extrémním pravičákem. Na to, že se příběh odehrává prakticky během pěti týdnů, je dle mého dobře zachycený zrod pravicového smýšlení jako touha někam patřit. Přečteno téměř jedním dechem.

Sexuální bytosti ****
Příběh o J rozdělený do dvou částí - první se odehrává na chatě, kam jede banda mladých a nadržených lidí točit nezávislý film o pekle a jsou během první noci sledováni malým
Seventeen was s ome good shit, really showcased why Oe had such a famous distaste for Mishima since he basically posits that fascist reactionaries are wholly dependent on base impulses (when Seventeen gets a phat handy and then he talks about the Right being a constant orgasm FTW). J is also cool because I also aspire of being at the center of a sexual microcosm, but resent anyone who would lower themselves into sex with me. That is some damn win
I read this a few years back, so my review is based upon my probably faulty memory of it.

These stories were both disturbing by design, but my opinions of them were quite different.

Seventeen was intriguing exploration of disaffected youth and the radical right-wing mentality. I really hated J. More importantly, I just couldn't appreciate J, although I'm not sure if the fault is Oe's or my own. It left me uneager to read more of his work.
Will E
I have to remind myself that 2 stars equals "it was ok." Because these two were just "ok." You can tell Oe wrote these when he was young, because they have an unbridled/unrestrained quality that comes off as aggressive or manic. It's just not controlled or nuanced, like his work becomes. There's some interesting stuff, but the politics and perversion (and the way they intersect) is just too heavy handed in these two works.
So-so early novels by Kenzaburo Oe. Yes, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel now with his work available in English. I hold out unlikely hopes they'll put out some fresh translations; otherwise I may challenge myself with the Spanish version of "M/T and the narrative about the marvels of the forest."

I did however learn the term for men who fondle women in Japan's crowded subways: chikan.
Richard Janzen
Hard to criticize a Nobel Prize writer, but it didn't do much for me. A masterful look at the motivations behind a political activitst youth in one story, and a train groper in the other. Neither one was compelling for me.
Hůře čitelná, málo dějová, přesto nebyla úplně špatná. Paradoxně nejlépe hodnotím velmi dobře zvládnuté popisy.
Actually, I've only read the first of the two (Seventeen). It illuminates the political dichotomy of post-war Japan.
An interesting, if albeit hurried, look at the transformation of a lonely teenager into a radical terrorist.
Weird stories about weird people. Interesting to see their shifted minds and acts.
Closer to 3 and a half stars.
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Kenzaburō Ōe (大江 健三郎), is a major figure in contemporary Japanese literature. His works, strongly influenced by French and American literature and literary theory, engage with political, social and philosophical issues including nuclear weapons, social non-conformism and existentialism.

Ōe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994 for creating "an imagined world, where life and myth condens
More about Kenzaburō Ōe...
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