Item description for Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy (Japan's Modern Writers) by Ralph McCarthy Osamu Dazai...
Blue Bamboo is a collection of seven short stories by one of Japan's preeminent postwar writers and prose stylists, Osamu Dazai. Not the typical romantic fantasies so often seen in Japanese writing, filled with water sprites and vengeful ghosts, these stories are a mixture of fantastic allegory, slightly skewed fables, and affecting romantic tales. Revealing the wide range of Dazai's imaginative powers, they also give a glimpse of his humane and idealistic side. From the title story, about an impoverished, henpecked scholar who is transformed by the love of a voluptuous bird, to "The Chrysanthemum Spirit," about a passionate gardener who meets a brother and sister with extraordinary powers, Dazai creates a world of fantasy and romance that is infused with his own psychological concerns. Many readers may recall the poignancy of Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince or Han Christian Andersen. The collection is capped by two delightful stories-within-a-story, in which the assorted members of a quirky family compose alternate episodes of a slightly gothic romance with hints of Poe and Saki (in "On Love and Beauty") and a wildly elaborate retelling of Rapunzel that is engaging, horrifying, and touching by turns (in "Lanterns of Romance"). All in all, these warm, inventive, and life-affirming stories will strike a deep, satisfying chord in many readers.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.19" Width: 4.54" Height: 0.55" Weight: 0.42 lbs.
Release Date Jan 16, 2001
Publisher Kodansha International
ISBN 4770026102 ISBN13 9784770026101
Reviews - What do customers think about Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy (Japan's Modern Writers)?
Brilliant collection of fantastical short stories Jun 7, 2005
Osamu Dazai in an author best known for his penetrating autobiographical novels set in the tragedy of post-war Japan. His book "No Longer Human" is an unquestioned classic of Japanese literature, with its themes of societal alienation and personal decline. His tragic life was marked by three suicide attempts, until he finally "got it right," drowning in a river with his married mistress. But this is not that Dazai.
"Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy" is the other Dazai, with a mind full of fantasy, steeped in Brother's Grimm fairy tales and Japanese folklore. This is the author of children's stories and happy endings. Well, as happy as and ending gets in Japanese literature, at any rate. Certainly happier than Dazai's own ending.
Collecting seven fairy tales and fantasy stories, "Blue Bamboo" is an absolutely charming book, mixing the best of German and Japanese folklore into something unique that represents neither. Dazai's style is light and capturing, and it is hard not to finish this book a few days after you crack the cover. Each story is a tasty little morsel that beckons the consumption of the next.
Two stories, "Of Love and Beauty" and "Lanterns of Romance" center around the Irie family, an artistic bunch who pass the time by telling chain stories, starting with one family member who writes a page or two and then passes it on. Each of the family members are distinct, so each of the relayed chapters are distinct and yet completely fitting. "Lanterns of Romance," the longest in "Blue Bamboo," begins with the tale of Rapunzel, but becomes something completely different and wholly satisfying.
"Cherry Trees and the Whistler," "The Chrysanthemum Spirit" and "The Mermaid and the Samurai" are pure Japanese folktales, complete with melancholy ending that is somehow redemptive. These three miniature yarns balance out the longer entries in the book.
"Blue Bamboo" and "Romanesque" are the finest in the collection, each a subtle blend of influences. "Blue Bamboo" was taken from Chinese myth, and is a cautionary tale about evoking the Gods for selfish reasons, and the ever important power of love. "Romanesque" is a quirky and seemingly-unconnected telling of the lives of three men, Taro the Wizard, Jirobei the Fighter and Sabruo the Liar. It is entirely possible that a moral is buried somewhere in there, but the stories are so entertaining that you will want to read them a few times hunting for it.
People looking for good, entertaining fairy tales would really enjoy "Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy," and that is a rare thing to say for a book of Japanese folktales. Dazai combines the Western and Eastern influences together in a form that is enjoyable by both, yet beholden to neither.
Superb selection of Short stories Apr 5, 2002
I read this book after reading Alan Booth's comments on Dazai and his life - so I have to admit, I was rather cynical.
I very much warmed to Dazai through these excellent translations by Ralph McCarthy. The tales have many ingredients which will appeal to lovers of Akutagawa and Kawabata. Those who like to see Chinese stories through Japanese eyes will not be disappointed.
There is also a fine preface, giving a historical perspective to the stories.
very, very good. . . Aug 17, 2001
This was really a good little book. i picked it up several months ago, and subsequently forgot about it, but after finishing a book by yasunari kawabata, i saw this book on my shelf and decided to give it a shot. . . i finished it in two days. this book is very entertaining some of the stories are sad while others are very funny. . . you will not forget Taro the wizard, Jirobei the fighter, and saburo the liar for a long time pick this book up you will not be disapointed