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Self Portraits: Tales from the Life of Japan's Great Decadent Romantic

4.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  91 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
A rich boy turned drop-out, a radical turned drug addict, obsessed with self destruction and suicide, Osamu Dazai retains his cult status among Japan's intellectual youth more than forty years after his death. These stories, based on his own experiences and arranged chronologically, provide insight into the sources of Dazai's enduring appeal as well as his art.
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published January 1st 1991 by Kodansha
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Eddie Watkins
Oct 08, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese-fiction
Dazai's frail sunken chest and haunted handsome gaze says it all - dissolution, sickness, deep feeling, and beauty are authentic pathways through an inauthentic and decaying world.

Going into this I thought him a self-absorbed hedonist unconcerned with the heartbreak and death he left in his wake. Coming out of it I think of him as a self-absorbed hedonist who absorbed all the heartbreak and death in himself and the world at large and transformed them into simple and sensitive tales of epiphanies
...more
Kimley
Jun 21, 2009 Kimley rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kimley by: Tosh, of course!
On the cover of my copy of this book is a blurb that says "A cult figure for Japan's disaffected youth" but let's just cut to the chase, Dazai was an asshole! Living off his wealthy family, he was a drunk, a drug addict, a womanizer, a fan of the suicide pact in which he survives but his partner in crime does not (oops!) - just the kind of guy you want to bring home to mother. He was also handsome, a snappy dresser and I'm guessing could ooze charm if he wanted to. It always seems to be like tha ...more
Tosh
Feb 18, 2008 Tosh rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who writes
Osamu Dazai is my favorite Japanese writer. And I love a lot of Japanese writers. In fact Dazai is my favorite writer period. And I like or love a lot of writers. Why I love Dazai is that he had a mess-up life and wrote about it with incredible charm and with a sense of humor. "Self Portraits" is a series of stories that are based on Dazai's life, but he changed it around to suit his purpose and of course to entertain the reader. The editor writes a brief intro to each story explaining what real ...more
Jee Koh
Jun 22, 2014 Jee Koh rated it really liked it
Translated by Ralph F. McCarthy, Self Portraits: Tales from the life of Japan's great decadent romantic comprises 18 short stories by Osamu Dazai. The long introduction by the translator provides a useful biographical context for the stories. Dazai wrote a form of biographical fiction, which amounted to a light fictionalization of his actual life. The life was certainly decadent. Born into a wealthy and politically influential family, Dazai left his class by marrying a young geisha. He forsook h ...more
Brian Neuls
May 06, 2012 Brian Neuls rated it it was amazing
"A moving example of a writer beset with torments and fears, many of his own making, struggling to create something of value."
--- Kirkus Reviews

Remarkably well-written auto-biographical stories from one of the most interesting literary personalities in Japan. The short story No Kidding...4 pages. Remarkable in its complexity with the best ending sentence I've ever read.
Sean O'Hara
While Osamu Dazai may not be the most stylish suicide in modern Japanese literature -- that honor surely goes to Yukio Mishima who killed himself after his attempt to overthrow the government with his personal militia failed -- he's definitely the most tenacious -- at least half a dozen attempts, including three double suicides, two of which left his partner dead. So it should be no surprise that a collection of his autobiographical short stories is full of introspection and self-recrimination. ...more
Andrew
Feb 19, 2008 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
I was in high school, visiting NYC, wandered into St. Mark's Books and bought this because the guy on the cover looks so cool. I believe that it called him a hero to the disaffected youth of Japan, or something like that, on the back cover. That was good enough for me. I agree with Tosh that he is in a class all by himself.
Stephen Butt Butt
Indispensable on every level.
Harajyuku
Dec 17, 2015 Harajyuku rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese
My favorite book by him, which is a shame as I'll probably never again be able to lay hands upon a physical copy of it. (/How/ much is it on Amazon?!) But years later I still remember how direct and real these stories were.
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Osamu DAZAI (太宰 治) was the pen name of Shūji Tsushima. Although his father wanted him to be a politician, he insisted on being an author. When he applied to the Tokyo University French Literature Department, he was 20 years old. For most of his lifetime, he was a drug addict, an alcoholic and a sufferer of tubercolosis.

His last book Ningen Shikkaku (No Longer Human)(1948) is an authobiography. It
...more
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