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A Dark Night's Passing (Japan's Modern Writers) Paperback – 1 Dec 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha America, Inc; Reissue edition (1 Dec. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870113623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870113628
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 3.1 x 18.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,209,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Barry Bermange on 3 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not recommended if you need a book urgently
and prefer editions of more acceptable quality
Generally a disappointing transaction worthy only
of a single star
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Why didn't Shiga write any more novels than this? 11 Jan. 1996
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Perhaps one of the best of Japan's interwar novels, "A Dark Night.." takes the reader directly into the mind of author Naoya Shiga who lived in similar circumstances with the main character Kensaku.
It is provocative in the way the author makes Kensaku grapple with himself concerning so moral questions that prop up through the course of his adult life until his presumed death at the end.
The writer-bohemian Kensaku, who can arguably be taken for the real Naoya Shiga (Edwin McClellan defines this novel as a watakushi-shosetsu in form but not in substance), is at once a critical yet sympathetic description of the modern intellectual who consciensciously takes up both sides of the dilemmas that confront him but inexorably fails to heed his better judgement.
Yet for all his debauchery the reader will most likely be delighted of his almost school-boyish courting of his his future wife and in the end be relieved that it was Naoko and no other who rescued him from his eternal quandary about women (starting from his mother and questionable birth). This novel can in some ways be compared and contrasted to Milan Kundera's "Unbearable Lightness of Being" in its views about women.
Much has been made about the inconclusiveness of this 400-plus paged novel but I am of the opinion that to have dragged on would just have produced redundant statements to the eventual ending.
This novel also provides a very detailed picture of prewar Japan, especially in its desciptions of the old Tokyo quarter (shitamachi) and outlying areas including Yokohama and Kamakura. As Kensaku does a bit of travelling by train and boat from central Honshu to Shikoku and parts of Kyushu, this book may also make for a sort of travel diary. Of particular interest are the descriptions of Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture and Mt. Daisen in Tottori.
Lastly, all of this is brought together in clear and elaborate prose by Mr. McClellan. I have read numerous Japanese works in English and never have I been so impressed as I was with this translation. It fills up all of the gaps, in particular social and cultural references in speech inferred only in the abrupt Japanese original. In all, a convincing work that Shiga Naoya should have written another novel apart from this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A remarkable "I" novel 18 May 2012
By C. Yew - Published on
Format: Paperback
Shiga Naoya is one of Japan's most revered writers, despite writing very little from 1937 until his death in 1971. This book, "A Dark Night's Passing", is his only full-length novel, and he wrote other than this a few classic short stories. The novel was translated by Edwin McClellan and reads very fluently. Shiga is revered as a master stylist who was "the god of autobiographical fiction", as Shiga is known in Japan. This novel is divided into four parts, and took the novelist over sixteen years to complete. Shiga only finished it in 1937. The novel is an account of Tokit' Kensaku, a young aspiring writer who had been living an undisciplined life and who tries to achieve his ambition while trying to find a new opening for himself. He faces a dark past (a skeleton in his family's closet) whilst all the time trying to compose something of note to prove his worth. Well may the reader ask why Shiga wrote only one novel in his entire lifespan. Perhaps it is the demand of a style with vast clarity and non-pretension. This novel is good enough to merit a "must-read" status.
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