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Osamu Dazai


Osamu Dazai was born Tsushima Shuji in Kanagi in Aomori Prefecture in 1909. His father was the major landowner. Dazai was one of eleven children. As his mother was too weak to look after all her children, he lived with an aunt. He started writing early and, in 1943, went to Tokyo University to study French literature. At the same time, he started flirting with communism. It was also at this time, he made the first of several suicide attempts. His second attempt was with a geisha. She died, he survived. He tried again after being thrown out of university and failing to find a job and then later when he found his wife had had previous lovers. Suicide was naturally a key element in his work. His life settled down when he married Ishihara Michiko. He had a successful career as a writer before the War but his best-known work was produced after the War when he was critical both of his country and himself. This led him again to depression and he killed himself – successfully – in 1948.

Books about Osamu Dazai

James A. O’Brien: Dazai Osamu

Other links

Osamu Dazai
Osamu Dazai
Osamu Dazai: genius, but no saint
Dazai Osamu 1909–1948
Introduction Of Unshoji (Dazai’s hometown – there is a bit about him)


(only books translated into English)

1936 道化の華 (The Flowers of Buffoonery)
1940 乞食学生 (beggar Student)
1944 パンドラの匣 (Pandora’s Box)
1944 津軽 (Return to Tsugaru)
1946 薄明 (Early Light)
1947 ヴィヨンの妻 (Villon’s Wife)
1947 斜陽 (Japan: The Declining Sun, US: The Setting Sun)
1948 人間失格 (No Longer Human)
1948 満願 (Wish Fulfilled)
1948 人間失格 (A Shameful Life)
1986 Dazai Osamu: Selected Stories and Sketches
1988 走れメロス (Run, Melos! and Other Stories)
1989 Crackling Mountain and Other Stories
1990 お伽草紙 (Otogizōshi)
1993 竹青 (Blue Bamboo: Tales of Fantasy and Romance)
2024 Self-Portraits (stories)