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Fires On The Plain

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  735 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
"This haunting novel explores the complete degradation and isolation of a man by war. The book is set on the island of Leyte in the Philippines during World War II, where the Japanese army is disintegrating under the hammer blows of the American landings. Within this larger disintegration is another, that of a single human being, Private Tamura. The war destroys each of hi ...more
246 pages
Published (first published 1951)
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Apr 22, 2011 Mariel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: under the blood red sky
Recommended to Mariel by: sunday bloody sunday
I'm nervous about writing a review about Fires on the Plain. There's a good chance I'm going to feel stupid and guilty about this after the fact (stopping in my tracks to feel hazy hot stupidity on my face. "I'm an idiot! And what does it all MEAN?!"). Why can't I be a useful reviewer, at least once? So this book is amazing. It deserves serious thought. I'm a hard thinker (it's not that), it's just that I'm a deeply confused individual, as I said. So Fires on the Plain is about the infrastructur ...more
Kazuko Kato
Jun 24, 2010 Kazuko Kato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I found most interesting in the book is the portrayal of the social degradation the protagonist goes through due to the circumstances of the war. Tamura is not someone that is particularly memorable or who has worth noting qualities. He is just one more soldier in the army who is being rejected everywhere he goes and whose actions are condemnable in the eyes of his superiors which is why he is dismissed from the unit. As the book goes on Tamura shows that he is stronger that I would’ve thou ...more
Richard Stuart
Mar 18, 2012 Richard Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
It is a marvel how our intuition leads us to engage in the process of transmuting our own internal strife through experiencing similar circumstances in our external world. I have now just read two books in succession dealing with starvation and the tenuous hold on reality the mind goes through when the body is deprived. "Hunger" by Knut Hamsun and this book, "Fires on the Plain" by Shohei Ooka. So what, as a conscious person would ask, is in my own life "starving"?

Ooka's book is a terrible desce
Nov 28, 2010 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A desperate Japanese army on a small Island in the Philippines, resorts to abandoning members of their own in a last-ditch effort to strengthen their ranks before the inevitable invasion. Private Tamura is one of these soldiers left to fend for himself, unable to return to his unit and unable to “pay” for treatment at the army hospital. Private Tamura is left to wander Leyte Island with neither a reason to live nor a reason to die. The instinct to survive is a powerful pull that lead Tamura to c
"La enfermedad, cuando se ha perdido toda la esperanza de cura, también pierde su importancia."

"Hogueras en la llanura", contrariamente a mis expectativas, es más bien una fábula sobre un soldado raso que, una vez abandonado por una tropa derrotada, se enfrenta a la desesperación, la más profunda soledad, la hambruna y la locura. Si no fuera por haber caído en la trampa de leer el prólogo al inicio, diría que el punto de inflexión llega con el capítulo 28 ("Un hambriento y un loco"). No obstante
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Shōhei Ōoka (Ōoka Shōhei / 大岡 昇平) was a Japanese novelist, literary critic, and translator of French literature active in Shōwa period Japan. Ōoka belongs to the group of postwar writers whose World War II experiences at home and abroad figure prominently in their works. Over his lifetime, he contributed short stories and critical essays to almost every literary magazine in Japan.
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“Again, was it not this same presentiment of death that made it seem so strange to me now that I should never again walk along this path in the Philippine forest? In our own country, even in the most distant or inaccessible part, this feeling of strangeness never comes to us, because subconsciously we know that there is always a possibility of our returning there in the future. Does not our entire life-feeling depend upon this inherent assumption that we can repeat indefinitely what we are doing at the moment?” 3 likes
“People seem unable to admit this principle of chance. Our spirits are not strong enough to stand the idea of life being a mere succession of chances—the idea, that is, of infinity. Each of us in his individual existence, which is contained between the chance of his birth and the chance of his death, identifies those few incidents that have arisen through what he styles his “will”; and the thing that emerges consistently from this he calls his “character” or again his “life.” Thus we contrive to comfort ourselves; there is, in fact, no other way for us to think.” 2 likes
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