No Longer Human
The poignant and fascinating story of a young man who is caught between the breakup of the traditions of a northern Japanese aristocratic family and the impact of Western ideas.
Mine has been a life of much shame. I can’t even guess myself what it must be to live the life of a human being.
Portraying himself as a failure, the protagonist of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human narrates a seemingly normal life even while he feels himself incapable of understanding human beings. His attempts to reconcile himself to the world around him begin in early childhood, continue through high school, where he becomes a “clown” to mask his alienation, and eventually lead to a failed suicide attempt as an adult. Without sentimentality, he records the casual cruelties of life and its fleeting moments of human connection and tenderness.
Still one of the ten bestselling books in Japan, No Longer Human is an important and unforgettable modern classic: “The struggle of the individual to fit into a normalizing society remains just as relevant today as it was at the time of writing.” (The Japan Times)
Praise for No Longer Human
Dazai’s brand of egoistic pessimism dovetails organically with the emo chic of this cultural moment.
— Andrew Martin - The New York Times
Seventy-five years later, No Longer Human still reads with an apt urgency. As the musician Patti Smith once put it, Dazai 'wrote at the pace of a dying man, yearning for ... the solution to an unresolved equation.'
— Jane Yong Kim - The Atlantic
No Longer Human is his masterpiece, though all his work is worthy. Dazai was an aristocratic tramp, a self described delinquent, yet he wrote with the forbearance of a fasting scribe.
— Patti Smith
What I despise about Dazai is that he exposes precisely those things in myself that I most want to hide.
— Yukio Mishima
From the point of view of wholesome common sense, Dazai’s writings may be regarded as the soliloquies of a deviant.
— Yasunari Kawabata