David's Reviews > Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: Four Short Novels

Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Kenzaburō Ōe
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's review
Feb 29, 12

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Read from February 22 to 26, 2012

Prize stock:
In real life, I visited Kenzaburo's hometown and I tripped around like I tripped around Wordsworth's Lake District cottage, delighting at the old stuff and the nature. I even thought it was hilarious to sing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcmcXr....

From this story, it turns out that the pretty mountain village, with its Edo period street and kabuki theatre, was actually a nightmare wasteland. Post-apocalyptic to the max (whilst remaining vague about the nature of the apocalypse, or if there even was one). Isolated from civilization (if it still exists) and with the war pressing in from the treeline, feral kids run around fondling themselves and each other. Everyone stinks and sleeps on the floors of rooms that, in happier times, were used for industry. Such poverty! Not sexy poverty like "The sound of waves". This is mental poverty like "The woman in the dunes".

It's such the opposite of furusato, I'm not convinced that it's Japanese.

The day He himself shall wipe my tears away:
Oe re-wrote "Teach us to outgrow our madness" (great title) in response to the Mishima Incident, and called it "The day He himself shall wipe my tears away" (great title). It's very nuts and difficult to read, but nuts and difficult to read in a classic "literary fiction" way. Whereas "Prize stock" was a nice story about fucking mental, this feels more familiar. I really liked that it felt, at times, that Oe was taking Mishima to task for taking Morita Masakatsu with him.
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