Osamu Dazai wrote The Setting Sun in the years directly following the end of World War II. The effects of Japan’s defeat in the War were clearly still felt, as evidenced by the characters and situations being expressed in this novel. In looking at the novel through a historical lens, I plan on placing it within the greater context of the times. I view Dazai’s work as a masterpiece at evoking the feelings that were seething beneath Japan’s conquered surface. In consequence of this, I believe that by examining the words, actions, and feelings of the characters, one can extend by generalization to what was felt by society in post war Japan as a whole. One scholar wrote that, “The experience of Japan’s defeat, reflected directly or indirectly in the work of many writers, is perhaps symbolized most acutely in novels such as Shayo (The Setting Sun),” (IV, 278-79). I agree with this statement wholeheartedly and feel that Kazuko is the most prominent symbol of reform after the defeat. By looking specifically at Kazuko and how far she takes her new ideology beyond the normal recuperation efforts, one can see Dazai as promoting a new, rather radical, stance through his fictional character of Kazuko.
- Osamu Dazai,
- World War II,
- post-war literature
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