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Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: Four Short Novels

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,573 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
These four novels display Oe’s passionate and original vision. Oe was ten when American jeeps first drove into the mountain village where he lived, and his literary work reveals the tension and ambiguity forged by the collapse of values of his childhood on the one hand and the confrontation with American writers on the other. The earliest of his novels included here, Prize ...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published October 13th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1966)
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Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to B0nnie by: David
(This review is for Prize Stock (Shiiku, 飼育), one of the novellas in Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: Four Short Novels).

Paul Theroux wrote that "the revolting Japanese author Kenzaburō Ōe says [Adventures of Huckleberry Finn] is his favorite book".
Paul Theroux v. Kenzaburō Ōe

How reliable this statement is I don't know, but the story of Prize Stock could be seen as sort of a dark, messed up retelling of Huckleberry. Trade the idyllic Mississippi River shore for Japan during WWII, make the character Jim a captured
mark monday
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
here are some words and phrases regarding this collection of thematically-linked novellas by left-leaning post-war Japanese author Oe Kenzaburo:

- surreal, dream-like

- grotesque, morbid

- humanistic, humane

- unsentimental, clear-eyed

- a modernist style of writing with a postmodern view of the world? or maybe not.

- unreal, a hair-raising and uncomfortable kind of unreal

- a genuine realism that kind of hurts to read

- upsetting, angry

- ambiguous, fleeting

- moving, incredibly moving at times. particul
Deniz Balcı
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japon-edebiyatı
Yaşayan en büyük iki Japon yazardan bir tanesi sayılan Kenzoburo Oe, daha çok evrensel bir dilde eser vermeye çaba sarf eden bir romancı. Tıpkı Haruki Murakami, Kobo Abe ve Ryu Murakami gibi. Fakat edebi dil olarak onlara nazaran daha klasik.

"Kişisel Bir Sorun" kitabı bilindiği gibi kült. Şuanda bu romanı dışında aktif bulabileceğiz diğer kitabı "Kurbanı Beslemek". Bu kitapta üç tane uzun öykü yer almakta. Aslında bu üç uzun öykü daha önce Can Yayınları tarafından üç aynı novella olarak bağımsız
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a way to finish up my tour of the great Japanese writers of the 20th century. It’s not often you can call a writer brave. Generally it’s reserved for writers who risked their own lives for their art. Alexander Solzhenitsyn would be a good example. But as I read the tales in Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness, I could only stand in awe at how brave Kenzaburō Ōe was as a storyteller.

Take the opening tale, “The Day He Himself Shall Wipe Away My Tears.” It is told entirely from the prospective of
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Realismo bordeando lo visceral, fantasías paranoicas que son pretextos para llegar a la verdad.
Öe es un mundo al cual no creo que muchos gusten entrar, ni mantenerse; puesto que su literatura muestra la existencia sin filtros, esa que nos avergüenza un poco, que preferimos mirar para un lado.
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Josh
Incredible. Astonished. This is one of those books that puts tiny fingers in between the breaches in what one thought was a continuous idea of the possible in a book, and breaks it apart, leaving and making use of these fascinating new spaces. It is embarassing but I felt as if this book were a hose pumping a fuel hungry to be used, designed only for me, into my brain. It gets better and better.
My organs are too destroyed to write any meaningful analysis, so: FUCKING BRILLIANT.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: big-red-circle
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:

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
Alejandro Ortiz
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me llamó la atención el libro por cierta equivocación que no tiene sentido reproducir aquí. Los accidentes providenciales también nos descubren cosas buenas. La gracia con que Oe trabaja estas tres novelas cortas es magistral. El trabajo de los personajes y los resultados plásticos son dignos de Dostoievski. Una fuerza para describir la locura de cada uno de ellos, que, al fin, es el motivo que hila las tres historias: Locura, familia y la historia del Japón.

Un libro que merece mucho la pena lee
Abeer alkhalil
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"كنزابورو أوي "
ما خلقته بي هو الاختلاف.. و الهذيان عالي القيمة!
أربع محاولات لخلق عالم مختلف
تبدأ بالجنون العاطفي لكافة أشكال التلاحم الروحي بين أب و ابنه..
ستتوقف بلحظات هامساً لنفسك أيعقل ؟!
لن أتحدث عن القصص لأن دهشة اكتشافها و استبصار عميق هذا الكاتب تستحق الدهشة الأولى!
مع التنبه لنوعية سرده الداخلي هذا الفن الصعب الذي لا يرحل بسهولة متى ما تمكن منك..

لا تدعوا القصة الثانية تعيق تقدمكم معه هي صعبة جداً و سترهقكم و لكن بديعة ♥
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I think I'm done with this book. One of these stories strangled me in my sleep, one of them sort of angrily shouted at me until I had learned my lesson, and one of them made me feel absolutely terrible up until the very end, whereupon, once more, I felt absolutely nothing. I don't want to know what's behind door number 4 for right now. I'm satisfied -- if you can call it that. But, mind you, all of these things I relate as stress on my body were actually... in a weird way... enjoyable? Is that t ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
It was simply my relief I could finish reading these four short novels by Kenzaburo Oe; they have been ranked based on my personal view regarding readability in the following order:

1. Prize Stock [I finished reading this novel on July 1, 2011.]
2. Aghwee The Sky Monster
3. Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness
4. The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away

Consequently each novel would be explored why it has been appreciated as such from my familiarity with his works I have read so far, not all of course.
Sep 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guillermo Galvan
I initially put this book aside because I knew it was going to be heavy. The preparation did little to prepare me for the brutality contained in this book.

The opening novel, The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away, is bizarre enough to immediately turn away most readers. The first line reads:

"Deep one night he was trimming his nose that would never walk again into the sunlight atop living legs, busily feeling every hair with a Rotex rotary nostril clipper as if to make his nostrils as bare a
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"El pasado es una mímica inabordable: de convenciones rituales, de sufrimientos autoinfligidos, de actos desesperados que se sumergen en los silencios extrahumanos de la locura, del harakiri. El futuro, desde el que vemos una promesa incumplida: en el hijo deficiente o condenado, en el cáncer que se extiende inexorable, en la imposibilidad metafísica de producir un cambio y situarse en ese otro lugar que no es ahora."

Son las palabras con las que arranca el prólogo de esta entrañable obra. Y sí,
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-authors
Uzun zamandır böyle sıradışı bir kitap okumamıştım. Okumanın üzerinden yıllar da geçse bazı sahneleri aklımda yer eden ve sık sık gönderme yaptığım kitaplardan biri olacak.
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I didn't think I would rate this book 5 stars as I was reading it. But it stuck in my mind. The imagery, the characters, the despair and meanness and then deliverance, maybe. Loved it.
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sonofabitch! The shorter novella form works well for Oe here. Each story escalates a larger theme that runs through the book, though they were written years apart. This might be his masterpiece. Really 4.5 stars, but not an option. Subjectively, it's better than A Personal Matter. But it's not a 'perfect' book. Aw, whatever. It's a goddamn masterpiece.You even get Eeyore (twice, really). "Prize Stock" and "Aghwee the Sky Monster" will tear you open.

I could never sum up Oe better than this passag
Ebtihal Abuali
Jan 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
الكتاب عبارة عن أربع روايات قصيرة (أو يمكن قصص طويلة!)

علمنا أن نتجاوز جنوننا: تتحدث عن ارتباط فوق معتاد بين اب وابنه، الابن مصاب بعته منذ الولادة يمنعه من الكلام والتعبير عن نفسه والأب يعتقد انه حين يلمس اصبع ابنه فإن مشاعر ابنه تنتقل إليه وتنطلق من خلاله. هذه الرواية جاءت بعد ولادة الطفل الأول لكينزابورو، بورم في الدماغ.

الرواية الثانية في الكتاب (يوم يكفكف دمعي بنفسه) كانت فخاً، وحين انتصفت فيها مع شعوري بالضياع وصعوبة المواصلة عدت لقراءة مراجعات من سبقوني فوجدتهم ينصحون بإرجاء هذه الرواية للنه
Michael Walkden
This is quite something. These stories really draw you in, if you approach them with an open mind. 'The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away' is confusing, but once you've mastered the perspective shifts and un-flagged dialogue, it's a fascinating read. Personally, I did find these techniques detrimental to the reading experience, and was relieved that 'Prize Stock' (my favourite of this collection) used the more conventional paragraph breaks and speech marks. It's definitely the most accessi ...more
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read three of the four novellas in this book, and they were breathtaking. The one remaining section is said in the introduction to be "Oe's most difficult and disturbing work to date." So I'm holding off until I have the time and energy to devote to it, and in the meantime, a student who read Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids wanted to read more by this author. (Always a good sign.)

One novella hits starkly upon the irony of rural villagers treating a downed black American pilot like a piece of live
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that should be on all those cannon lists of major modern Eastern writers--well, it probably is and it finally popped up on my radar. The first one was rather tough going, but in the end rewarded the reader for sticking to the journey. The second is a classic short story but original for its subjects and perspectives. The third is an even deeper tribute to narcissism than the first--but also blessedly recognizes and somewhat reverses that mindset. The fourth brought bac ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read two of the novels, Prize Stock and Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness. I mean to go back and read the other two at some point, because the two were wonderful (though Prize Stock is... troubling in many ways). They're very strange, surreal kinds of books, but really warm and lovable at the same time. Good stuff.

Edit: Just finished Aghwee the Sky Monster. Overall, I have to say, I've never encountered writing where I feel so drawn in and alienated at the same time. There's something familiar a
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“My life has a splendid continuity, don’t you agree, especially in the details?”

For maximum psychological effect, read the stories in this order:

Aghwee, The Sky Monster
Prize Stock
Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness
The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away

The final story on this list exhibits an autobiographical bravery that verges on the perverse. Something like laying out organs on a table: brain, heart, liver, spleen.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, novel, male, year-1970s, poc
I've not yet read the 1st novella in this book. I may revisit it later. The 4/5 star rating is for the rest of this collection:

"Prize Stock": my favorite; a strange and powerful tale that really resonated with me. 5/5

"Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness": strange is just the beginning here. But there is tenderness here too. The ending wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped, but the writing is solid. 3.5/5

"Aghwee the Sky Monster": really good story. 3.5/5
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of blood and sweat. It's a tough book, not necessarily because his narratives are complicated (although they are), but because it's constantly challenging you, particularly me as a Westerner who has to use my imagination to reflect on some things that are not part of my cultural milieu. This book is a beautiful, fantastic, and unique experience not for the faint of heart.
Salam Rif
Jul 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
لا أنصح أحد بقراءة هذه الرواية ..
بسبب الأفكار الفارغة التي يمجدها الكاتب ..
أفضل قصة .. هي الجزاء .. أما الباقي .. هراء مع احترامي للكاتب و أفكاره
Didn't make it past the intro. Oe worshipped Mailer to the point of learning just enough English to call women "cunts" at dinner parties.
Kobe Bryant
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sounds like had some father issues
Paul Fulcher
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
This collection for four novellas/short stories, translated by John Nathan, contains two of Kenzaburō Ōe's earlier works:

Prize Stock (飼育) [1957] - a short story written at the start of his career, and which won the prestiguous Akutagawa Prize.

Aghwee the Sky Monster (空の怪物アグイー) [1964] - one of the first of Ōe's stories inspired by the birth of his mentally handicaped son Hikari in 1963, and published at the same time as the better known A Personal Matter, where the father of the handicapped child
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

A dark and gripping collection of four stories, mostly revolving around a clash between ways of thinking and living. It was my first plunge into japanese literature and I'm intrigued by how different it is when compared to western tradition. I certainly can't wait to read more.

I enjoyed all four novellas so much that I couldn't help but review them individually.

-The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away

The longest work and most complex, there are two overlapping sto
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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...
'He's black, you see that! I thought he would be all along.' Harelip's voice trembled with excitement. 'He's a real black man, you see!'
'What are they going to do with him, shoot him?'
'Shoot him!' Harelip shouted, gasping with surprise. 'Shoot a real live black man!'
Because he's the enemy,' I asserted without confidence. 'Enemy! You call him an enemy!' Harelip seized my shirt and railed at me hoarsely, spraying my face with saliva through his lip.
'He's a black man, he's no enemy!”
“Probably the sky a hundred yards or so above your head is still nothing more than sky to you. But all that means is that the storehouse happens to be empty at the moment.” 2 likes
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