The Setting Sun

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Shoji Tsushima (whose pen name was Osamu Dazai) was born into a wealthy landowning family in northern Japan in 1909. He began writing short stories while studying French literature at Tokyo Imperial University (which he left without a degree), and soon became well known among the younger generation in Japan, not least for his bohemianism and excesses. After World War II he gained wide recognition for his novels, particularly The Setting Sun and No Longer Human. His works are autobiographical at least to the extent that we find in most of them the personage of a dissolute young man of good family, but Dazai was also gifted with a fertile imagination. Following several unsuccessful suicide attempts, he drowned himself at the age of thirty-eight together with a lover.
Donald Keene is professor of Japanese at Columbia University. Among his many other translations are those of Dazai's No Longer Human and works by Kobo Abe and Yukio Mishima. He is editor of Anthology of Japanese Literature and Modern Japanese Literature, and author of Japanese Literature: An Introduction for Western Readers and World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Premodern Era, 1600-1867. He received the Order of the Rising 'Sun in 1974 for his service to Japanese literature.
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