@Ebook ⚸ Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy (Japan's Modern Writers Series) ì eBook or E-pub free

On Love and Beauty Adorably pretentious family and their silly story telling game All wrapped up in gentle irony Cherry Leaves and the Whistler I like that this cute, sad little tale hinges on someone whistling this mad wartime classic The Chrysanthemum Spirit Stubborn little chap is determined to grow Chrysanthemums When autumn came, Saburo s seedling, which Sainosuke had replanted in his garden, produced a single blossom The flower was faintly rouge, like a drinker s blush, and gave off a light scent of sake The Mermaid and the Samurai This little story should be a film Gripping, magical, adorable These words of encouragement, stouthearted though they were, only left Konnai feeling all the keenly his sorrow and woe, and for some moment, wracked with mournful sobs, he could make no reply at all Such it is for those in the grips of misfortune declarations of support and sympathy, rather than providing comfort, may merely increase the victim s pain Overwhelmed with despair, Konnai bowed his head and cried manly tears, even as he resigned himself to the fact that his life was all but over At length, wiping the tears away with his fists, he looked up and spoke in a voice still punctuated with sobs Thank you The abuse whch Hyakuemon has heaped upon me today is scarcely such as I can find it in me to ignore Being in the presence of His Lordship, however, I had no choice but to endure the unendurable and choke back the tears of vexation To think that all for some meaningless debate over mermaids, a worthy man must die Certain now that her father was in some sort of trouble, Yae, samurai child that she was, slept that night in her kimono, with the sash firmly tied, curled up in a ball and hugging a dagger to her breast Blue Bamboo Poor chap with awful life meets a new crow girlfriend Romanesque This was my absolute favourite It s in three parts, with a sting in the tail Taro the Wizard Autumn brought even better things apples as big as grapefruit and as red as coral hung from the trees in dense clusters So juicy were these apples that if you plucked one and bit into it, the skin would burst with a loud crack and sweet, cold spray would gush out to soak your nose and cheeks Before long he learned how to turn himself into a praying mantis as well, but this proved disappointing There was nothing particularly fun about being a praying mantis Taro approached the mirror with his heart in his mouth and received the shock of his life His skin was so white as to be almost colorless his cheeks were full and round and soft and smooth his eyes were the narrowest conceivable slits and a long, stringy mustache drooped down below his chin It was a face that would have looked right at home on any eighth century Buddhist statue Even the splendid article between his legs resembled those of the men of old, hanging down long and fat and heavy Jirobei the Fighter When you find yourself looking ridiculous, reasoning isn t worth a turd If a man offends you, strike him down The training was complete Jirobei looked solid and imposing than ever and was so musclebound that it took him a full minute just to turn his head to the left or right Saburo the LiarSaburo felt as if he could smell the unbearable stench of deception s final, sputtering fart The lies become blacker and complex, they mesh and rub together until in the end they shine with the luster of truth Lanterns of Romance The same charming family from the first story, playing one of their story telling games again. I wish that I could hand a teenaged Mariel a copy of Osamu Dazai s Blue Bamboo Japanese Tales of Fantasy I would now say, You were here for me I m unsure where the nostalgic feelings are coming from, not knowing what is Dazai and what is his own growing up or down Maybe the believing suspension would be as an atmosphere like a starry sky over the fairy tales, to have grown up with the original Japanese fairy tales, instead of Dazai s exercises alone in standing My two favorite stories, On Love and Beauty and Lanterns of Romance have the under the same moon many miles away quality for the foriegn fairy tale feeling of things that have been there for me in my life J.D Salinger s Glass family and Rapunzel I am not twisted smiling over why I felt the strange outside quality of make believe outside the every day life I ve been doing this my whole life This I know Making up stories about other stories This smile feels like an expression I could have made other days in my life I missed you If only every story was like that Maybe I m all wrong about the time thing I missed the family of five siblings and a mother when they appeared again at the last The grandparents were omitted until then I agree with Dazai that that was a mistake He knew a family like them I don t know which is him, and which is them I guess I don t need to know which of the Japanese fairy tales was Dazai but I d like to have the under the same sky feeling, you know That there are eyes looking up In Lanterns the siblings have a story writing contest The youngest son chooses to do a retelling of Rapunzel But unhappiness lay ahead There s just too great a social gap between a prince and the daughter of a witch Misfortune was about to befall them I ll leave the rest up to my eldest sister Please take good care of Rapunzel I loved that last line Each sibling writes the rest of their tale concious of each other, unconcious of their own inner passions, yet concious of their ideals Eyes Lots of them Better than the story of Rapunzel was their eyes I am beginning to think that fairy tale retellings need lots eyes Would the prince not love Rapunzel any if she weren t beautiful Was she too wild for acceptance It was too big for a moral, just how I like it That the family were rich and bored living in an eccentric lifestyle outside of the spheres reminded me of my favorite of the three I ve read so far Dazai, The Setting Sun, as well as the Glass family of exceptional geniuses I loved Setting soooooo much because it touched the fantasy I ve yearned for as long as I can remember wanting anything A fantasy for that very life lived outside the gaze of the every day It wasn t their freedom of being able to do whatever they wanted, having money to spare and all that They weren t free unless they were spinning So true The Chrysanthemum Spirit is untraditional to me folktale about the romance of poverty Since I reminded me of The Setting Sun ha I ve been pining for when I read it , it isn t surprising that Dazai chose this story Like Eeyore kinda enjoying sulking off by himself and not getting invited to the parties Or Jean Genet loving prison There s beauty to wallowing in what looks to be the bottom Didn t anyone ever tell Sainosuke that there is always another bottom to the bottom I may have liked this a whole lot when I was younger and attached to feeling miserable It could be the translation that the tongue in cheek s accent is unnatural to listen to I just only liked it I m trying to come up with reasons to explain why I don t feel warm in the now I GET messages about wallowing Finding the right moment when you don t need it any is key I guess these reached me too late because I don t need that Reality and fantasy should be the same sides, light or dark as needed, of the coin Blue Bamboo is a moral of the story tale If any gods knock on my door If I was going to do than nod Oh, that was good it d have to reach me where I sleep Okay, no of that I was really wanting to read another book like The Setting Sun that kept alive within me the fantasy I ve always wanted to have as often as possible It can t only be time It s the sky thing, right Dazai s Crackling Mountain should reach me soon I m going to read it Please take care of me, of Rapunzel and of Dazai P.s I love the cover art of the birds P.s.s I forgot to say that the talking to onesself as understanding the world reminded me of No Longer Human The family felt protected I guess that s it through the dreaminess, while the reciting of facts and art caused timed the protagonist of No Longer Human to feel further alone Both feel right for my weird feeling of alone in fantasy I crave both P.s.s.s If only I were analytical than emotional for times like this Okay, the teen feeling means unfinished I don t feel finished, but it does feel like there could be MORE The fairy tale teen thing feels an incomplete finished work And I swear this has nothing to do with the deciding if I wanna live or die suicidal feeling Dazai did kill himself I am always trying to decide all of the time if I want to live or die, forget it as action the deciding isn t action It s foriegn fantasy mood Fantasy is the leaning in to those feelings P.s.s.s.s Cherry Leaves and the Whistler was good I forgot to mention that one I liked the story about the dying younger sister writing love letters to herself Her sister writes her love letters not knowing they were not from a real man to make her feel better When she s an old woman, and both sister and father are dead, she wonders if their father didn t take part in the myth of the lover to make them both feel better I would have liked that better if she didn t decide it was god The old woman wishing she d taken lovers in youth reminded me of the seventy something year old character in John Gardner s October Light The narcissistic desire rather than wistfulness wasn t suited for a fantasy, in my tastes. @Ebook ⚣ Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy (Japan's Modern Writers Series) Û 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 Translator s Introduction On Love and Beauty The Chrysanthemum Spirit The Mermaid and the Samurai Blue Bamboo Alt Heidelberg Romanesque Lanterns of Romance The Chrysanthemum Spirit That night Saburo came smiling to the cottage Sorry about this morning, he said But listen, my sister and I were talking things over, and, well, if you ll pardon my saying so, you don t seem to be leading a very comfortable life here We were thinking that if you d lend me half your garden, I could grow some really first rate mums for you to sell in the market in Asakusa or somewhere I d be happy to do it Sainosuke, whose self esteem as a grower of chrysanthemums had been severely shaken that morning, was not in the best of moods Seeing this as a chance to even the score, he twisted his lips in a contemptuous sneer Out of question, he said Of all the vulgar ideas And here I thought you were a man of taste and breeding I m shocked To even think of selling one s beloved flowers simply to put food on the table It s too outrageous for words, a violation of the very spirit of chrysanthemums To turn a noble minded pastime into a scheme to make money is, why it s, it s obscene, is what it is I ll have nothing to do with it Sainosuke spewed out his rebuke in the gruff and guttural tones of a samurai issuing a challenge, and Saburo, understandably enough, took offense His reply was rather heated Using one s god given talent to put food on the table hardly qualifies as greed, and to sneer at me and accuse me of being vulgar for wishing to do so is appallingly wrongheaded It s arrogant and childish the attitude of a spoiled little brat It s true that a man shouldn t be overly covetous of riches, but to take undue pride in one s poverty is every bit as base and mean When have I ever boasted of my poverty Look, my ancestors left me a small inheritance, and it s all I ve ever needed I want for nothing And I ll thank you not to meddle in my affairs All right, all right Saburo shrugged and smiled ruefully You win But listen There s a small ploy of bare ground behind the shed Would you consider lending that to us for the time being You must realize by now that I m not a man who s attached to worldly possessions I don t imagine you ll find such a tiny plot sufficient to your needs Half my garden remains unplanted take all of that if you like Do with it as you see fit Allow me to make one thing clear, however I will not associate with anyone who grows mums with the intention of offering them for sale From this day on, I want you to consider me a complete stranger.Saburo gaped at him incredulously for a moment, then shook his head in exasperation So be it, he said I won t refuse such a generous offer In fact, if I might further impose upon your generosity, I noticed that you have been discarded a number of old chrysanthemum seedlings behind the shed You needn t bother me with requests for every trifle Take them And thus they parted , on the worst of terms As autumn advanced all of Sainosuke s chrysanthemums burst into beautiful bloom Satisfying as he was, he couldn t help wondering how his neighbours flowers had fared, and one day his curiosity got the best of him and he decided to peek over the fence What he saw left him agog The other half of the garden was ablaze from end to end with the largest and most spectacular blooms Sainosuke had ever seen And that wasn t the only surprise The shed had been rebuilt and was now a charming and cozy little cottage It was an outrage Close up, Saburo s mums were even impressive The flowers were blooming for all they were worth each individual petal was extraordinarily long and thick and vibrating with life Adding insult to the injury was the fact that, as Sainosuke soon realized, the plants were none other than the worthless seedlings he s discarded behind the shed.Sainosuke had just begun to consider severing relations again when, one day, Saburo came calling with a pensive and serious expression on his face Please accept my sister as your bride he said somberly Sainosuke could feel his cheeks burning From the first time he d laid eyes on the sister he d been unable to dispel that image of tenderness and purity from his mind But true to for, his manly pride now forced him to launch into a queer sort of argument. My review is also posted at The Literary Sisters.Dazai Osamu is an author quite well known amongst fans of Japanese literature Born in 1909, he contributed greatly to the Japanese literary tradition with works such as No Longer Human 1948 , The Setting Sun 1947 and a plethora of other novels and short stories, before taking his own life in 1948 He is mostly known for the darker and depressing themes he tackles in his work, which were mostly drawn by the horrendous events of World War II.Being acquainted with the bleak and dreary side of Dazai s writing, I was quite surprised when I started reading Blue Bamboo, a collection of seven tales inspired by Asian tradition and mythology As Ralph McCarthy, the translator, informs us in the Introduction, all of the tales contained in this collection, apart from one, belong to Dazai s middle period , one which is often neglected by both readers and scholars.The first story, On Love and Beauty , caught my interest initially because of its structure It begins by introducing us to the members of a family that consists of five brothers and sisters Despite being completely different in their characters and interests, they have the tradition of making stories together One of them comes up with the beginning and each one of the rest of them subsequently adds their own parts until the story is concluded Dazai revisits this very interesting family in the last story of this collection, Lanterns of Romance , where we get the opportunity to become acquainted with this curious family, as they embark on the journey of retelling a version of Brother Grimm s Rapunzel The Crysanthemum Spirit and the title story, Blue Bamboo , are both stories based on old Chinese tales, but Dazai manages to add some elements of his own and make them quite distinctive Blue Bamboo in particular, according to McCarthy s notes, was even originally written in Chinese as Dazai meant for the Chinese people who were already familiar with the traditional tale to read and enjoy his own take on it.Another retelling of a Japanese story this time was The Mermaid and the Samurai , which I did enjoy but it definitely was my least favourite Romanesque is Dazai s earliest story, written in 1934, and it is preceeded in the book by Alt Heidelberg , the only story which is not based on any myth or legend but which instead is a biographical account of the days Dazai spent whilst writing Romanesque.Without meaning to sound biased, I absolutely adored this collection of short stories I was already quite fond of Dazai s writing from what I had read before, but seeing a literary face of his radically different from the significantly darker one presented in most of his later work, made me appreciate his literary aptitude and realize that apart from a deft storyteller and analyst of the human psyche, he is also a truly versatile author who is inspired by the tales of the past and doesn t merely stick to writing a specific type of books.Further, I truly enjoyed the fairytale atmosphere and the humorous tone most of the stories contained Myths and fairytales fascinate me no matter where they originate from and discovering old and new retellings of them is than enough to make me excited Regardless of whether or not you are familiar with Dazai s work, I would highly suggest picking up this collection, as it is a real treasure.I received a review copy from the publisher upon my request, but that does not affect my opinion of this book in the slightest. Human beings must suffer through their entire lives amid the love and hate that rule their world There is no escape All you can do is endure Endure and struggle, struggle and endure Learning is a splendid thing, but to make a show of having risen above worldly affairs is cowardly and mean You must become even attached to the world, and spend your life immersed in the hardships it presents you with an excerpt from Blue Bamboo, the titular story of this collection It s a memorable and perhaps deeply ironic one, considering that the person who wrote it had repeatedly made suicide attempts, eventually succeeding at the mere age of 39 This is the first of Osamu Dazai s work that I read, and I had a lot of fun This version was re translated by Ralph F McCarthy, who did an excellent work at making the text very accessible to me, while also conveying that signature sense of melancholia commonly found in classic Japanese literature There are seven stories in total four of them are fantastical tales in the vein of folklore and fables, and the other three are normal stories that were nonetheless told in very interesting manner Here s my breakdown view spoiler On Love and BeautyThe first of two story the other one being Lanterns of Romance about five siblings who love to make a chain story together Stories about writing will always capture my interest, even so with a presentation of frame narrative, or story within a story Here, Dazai did a wonderfully amusing job describing the siblings and having their personalities reflected by their respective portion of the chain story Such a structurally fun tale The Chrysanthemum SpiritThe first fable fairy tale in this collection, apparently a re telling of Chinese folklore It s mostly a straightforward tale about generosity, but the main highlight for me is the insanely prideful main character a chrysanthemum aficionado losing his mind over the fact that someone is better at growing chrysanthemum than him Somewhat adorable and heart warming The Mermaid and The SamuraiA re telling of Ihara Saikaku s story about a samurai who must preserve his honor by proving that mermaid exists It s a tragic story, but there s a really subtle black humor beneath the whole thing I personally enjoy this as a parody which I m not completely sure of is the intention, but the abundance of over the top dialogue makes it hard to think otherwise The Blue BambooAnother very loose re telling of Chinese folklore It s a romantic story of a man turned into a crow, loaded with moral messages and existential contemplation than you can shake a stick at It gets a bit preachy in the end, but I can t deny that some parts of it resonate with me.Alt Heidelberg My second favorite story in this collection It depicts an author s recollection of the times when he boarded at his friend s house, a simple story told with good doses of humor and a strong sense of melancholia Perhaps as it is obviously drawn from Dazai s own experience, the story feels like the most earnest and realistic one among the collection There s a familiar and bittersweet feeling at the story s conclusion, that feeling when you return to a place where you have so many fond memories of only to discover that the establishments you frequented no longer exist, the people you loved are no longer there, and the memories you want to re live are forever locked in the realm of nostalgia RomanesqueDazai s debut work, it s an interconnected tragicomedy featuring three uniquely talented men Clever concept, albeit somewhat awkward in the way it all converges in the end The middle part Jirobei the Fighter got some really big laughs from me Lanterns of RomanceMy absolute favorite story It is a sequel to the first story of this collection, as the five siblings return once with a longer chain story and expanded family members The process of the siblings writing the story is constantly funny, as does the result itself a messy deconstruction of the Rapunzel story It s a mess, but a beautiful mess nonetheless, depicting so many contrasting ideas and philosophies on romance in one hilarious package Love the interaction between the family members, and just like how the translator mentioned in his preface, I also find myself wishing that Dazai wrote much than just two stories about this wacky family hide spoiler Osamu Dazai is, in my humble opinion, underrated as an author This book contains seven short stories ai to bi nit suite On Love and Beauty , hazakura to mateki Cherry Leaves and the Whistler , seihintan The Chrysanthemum Spirit , Ningyo no umi The Mermaid and the Samurai , Chikusei Blue Bamboo , Romanesuku Romanesque , and Roman dourou Lanterns of Romance The narrative lines of these stories range from mundane topics to those which include the supernatural The prosaic stories lines include children taking turns story telling Roman dourou and ai to bi nit suite , and the power of letter writing hazakura to mateki The supernatural motifs include the events surrounding the death of a mermaid Ningyo no umi on a side note, I would translate this title as The Mermaid s ocean, not The Mermaid and the Samurai, which was provided in the text , the multiple rebirths of ill treated scholar through the blessing of the gods Chikusei , and wizards Romanesuku This set of short stories is refreshing Blue Bamboo does not hover insistently in the colors of depression, and the entries include concepts from outside of Japan without the use of orientalist devices Because I study contemporary literacies, this book was particularly enjoyable for me It was filled with references on how people write one another, make stories, and use books One of my favorite excerpts was from Sabur the Liar, a character in Romanesuku Here is an excerpt for your enjoyment As his skill at lying grew ever remarkable, Sabur began to ghostwrite letters for two or three of the students who studied under K son His specialty was writing parents to ask for money He would begin with a brief description of the weather and scenery, express an innocent hope that all was well with the beloved and respected parent, then delve right into the matter at hand Nothing, to Sabur s mind, could be ineffective than to begin with long, drawn out passages full of groveling flattery and end with a plea for money The plea only made the flattery all the transparent and gave the whole letter an air of sordid insincerity Better to pluck up one s courage and get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible It was also advisable to keep things short and succinct Like this We are about to begin our study of the Book of Songs If purchased from the local bookseller, the text costs twenty two yen Profvessor K son, however, having kindly taken into consideration the financial status of his students, has decided to order the books directly from China The cost comes to fifteen yen, eighty sen per volume Since passing up this opportunity would mean suffereing a substantial loss, I should like to order one of the books from him as soon as possible Please send fifteen yen, eighty sen posthaste After getting the request for money out of the way, one should then describe some trifling everyday occurrence For example Yesterday, looking out my wondow, I watched a single hawk doing battle with any number of crows truly a valiant, soul stirring sight Or The day before yesterday, as I was taking a walk along the banks of the Sumida River, I found the most peculiar little flower It had small petals, like those of a morning glory, or, rather, quite large petals, you might say, like a sweet pea, and was white, but on the reddish side such a rare find that I dug it up, roots and all, and replanted it in a pot in my room And so on, rambling leisurely along as if one had forgotten all about money, or anything else The beloved father, reading this letter, would reflect upon the tranquility in his son s heart and, ashamed of the wordly cares that plagued his own, send off the cash with a smile Sabur s letters really did have such an effect. I confess that I purchased this book on a whim I was fascinated by the title and when I read the book review A glimpse into the humorous, sardonic world of Dazai Osamu, presenting a new and very different look at a one of the recognized masters of Japanese, and indeed global, literature These works from the middle years of his brief career show a skilled hand, with angst muted and his penchant for subtle comedy deftly displayed.Well I was indeed smitten.I ve never heard of this author before but I was following my gut feeling and knew that this book was for me.This work comprises seven short stories On Love and BeautyThe Chrysanthemum SpiritThe Mermaid and the SamuraiBlue BambooAlt HeidelbergRomanesqueLanterns of RomanceWell I thought that the first story was so pedestrian that I nearly abandoned the book My disappointment really upset me I kept on telling myself that I was tired, I had worked for many hours on a rather tedious medical document and perhaps my brain was fuzzy So the next morning, full of optimism, with the sun shining majestically above and a fabulous view of the Pyrenees, I started again on the first story Oh no, not for me and sadly commenced the second, expecting a repeat of the first story, The Chrysanthemum Spirit which was sheer beauty Basically it s the story of an old man, and a young couple and all have a love of Chrysanthemums I felt choked after I read this it was so touching and poignant.And onto The Mermaid and the Samurai.Oh my, the writing was sheer bliss as was the content This is all about a samurai named Chudo Konnai, a man of great courage and unquestionable integrity, who served as administrator of the coastal areas Well one day, he s on a boat and sees a mermaid Well I won t go into this but remarkable things happen and the ending is sublime I loved it Reading became even better with Blue Bamboo the best in the book and it quite overwhelmed me All I can say is that I now view crows very differently As for Alt Heidelberg., well never borrow money is the maxim here, mixed in with the joy of youth, too much sak and beer An excellent story.Romanesque is a story about Taro the Wizard Read it But then we encounter Jirobei, the Fighter Now this is an individual on a mission He wants to fight but unfortunately never gets the opportunity to do so It is really amusing to see how he thinks that he s finally going to fight someone and then gets thwarted I loved it As for Saburo, a Liar Well that s indeed an interesting concept.And the final story, Lanterns of Romance is a sequel to the first story On Love and Beauty. Definitely not for me.As for rating this, well all I can say is that it s just excellent I m ignoring the first and last stories as they just happened to be there I don t think it would be such a terrible sin for a twentieth century author to make use of his unruly daydreams and impressions to fashion a tale based essentially on one of these old stories and present it to the reader as an original work There is a lot of talk these days about a new order , but my own personal new order would appear to be nothing nor less than the exhumation of romanticismOsamu Dazai For the or less hidden romantic in each of us who was raised on a diet of fairytales and chivalrous pursuits, the gloomy Osamu Dazai offers a charming selection of modern retellings of traditional Japanese stories, side by side with contemporary sketches This is my first foray into the opus of this conflicted personality who, like many other Japanese writers, commited suicide at the height of his popularity The tales included here are anything but gloomy for their humour and subversive connotations they reminded me of Italo Calvino and Angela Carter, but they are first of all a product of a Japan searching for its soul between tradition and industrialization They are also mostly hopeful and sentimental, with the obligatory weird elements that I have come to expect from this country I liked them for the youthful embrace of romanticism and for the homage paid to authors that were dear to Dazai Victor Hugo, Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Henryk Ibsen and their equivalent storytellers and folklore collectors from ancient Japan and China An author s affection doesn t always correspond to his objective judgement, and I sometimes find myself stealthily spreading that treacly collection of stories out on my desk and rereading them Of all the tales in the collection, the most frivolous, and the one that the author loves most dearly, is the very one I refer to here, the one inspired by those five brothers and sisters Who are these people and what are they doing in this collection Let s find out On Love and BeautyThere were five brothers and sisters, and all of them loved romances A modern family in Tokyo spends most of its leisure time reading books, but on weekends they gather together and invent sequential stories to drive boredom away One of the five starts a story and then each of the other four siblings picks up the thread in his or her turn and lets the imagination run freely The personality of each of the five brothers and sisters affects the style and the content of the narrative, but the one constant is the sentimentality that links the disparate ideas into something than the sum of its parts eldest son 28, a lawyer, arrogant and standoffish, but this was only a forbidding mask to disguise his own vulnerability , loves samurai movies, never tells a lie elder daughter 25, unwed, warm and gregarious by nature, she made friends easily but always ends up abandoned, secretly she took pleasure in the heartache and melancholia such rejections afforded her , budding feminist second son 23, a snob, a miser, a critic, a fan of Goethe younger daughter 21, pretty but a narcissist, her favorite author is Izumi Kyoka youngest son, 17, highschooler, awkward and earnestAh, the sadness ofhaving become a grownup,mature in every way,and being the only onewho knows it The game is started by the youngest son, trying to sound grownup and sophisticated, and hilariously going on a tangent about the latest subject he studied in math class The others come to his rescue and slowly weave together the romance of an elderly professor walking alone in the rain and thinking about his estranged wifeNever before in the professor s life has he purchased flowers He s not quite himself today The radio, the fortune, the ex wife, the handkerchief a lot has transpiredThe Chrisanthemum Spirit From a traditional source, the story of a poor gardener who travels all through Japan to find the best seeds for his chrisanthemum garden On the road he meets a brother and a sister with supernatural talents who eventually join him and build a rival garden The story continues the themes of beauty, sadness, love, tradition and emancipation The Mermaid and the Samurai Another tale with supernatural elements, based on an old text and enhanced by the author with a gentle rebuke of the popular yet cheap samurai movies that were all the rage in early Japanese cinemaTo a true samurai, trust is everything He who will not believe without seeing is a pitiful excuse for a man Without trust, how can one know what is real and what is not Indeed, one may see and yet not believe is this not the same as never seeing Is not everything, then, no than an imaterial dream The recognition of any reality begins with trust And the source of all trust is love for one s fellow manBlue BambooOnce upon a time, in a certain district in Hunan, there lived an impoverished scholar named Yu Jung Poverty and scholarship have always gone hand in hand, it seems, and one can t help but wonder why that might be A charming fairytale based on a Chinese folk tale about a gentle man henpecked by an ugly wife Yu Jung is saved from despair and suicide by some supernatural crows he meets on his journeys I am not entirely sure if it is Confucianism or Buddhism, but the story promotes ideas of acceptance and endurance and kharmaInscrutable are the ways of heaven Bestir yourself and leap back into the fray In our seventy years of life, no one knows what might occur Every ebb has its flow The heart of man is as changeable as the storm tossed waves of Lake Tung t ingAlt Heidelberg Is the cuckoo in this nest of traditional, supernatural stories It is an autobiographical piece, a love song to a wasted youth and to the lost innocence and exuberance of that particular period of lifeIt was eight years ago An Imperial University student exceptional only for my laziness, I spent the summer that year at Mishima, on the old Tokaido Road Mishima is a place I ll never forget The impact that summer had on my life was such that it would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that all the work I ve done since has been the result of what I learned there The narrator, an aspiring writer, goes to visit a friend in the old town by the sea, spends his days drinking and swaping tall tales with strangers Alas, time flies a blink of an eye and the festival is over When he returns years later with a wife and inlaws to show them the wonders of the town, all he finds are dust and ashesI couldn t find a trace of the old atmosphere anywhere But perhaps it wasn t that Mishima s colors had faded but simply that my own heart had grown old and withered That carefree Imperial University student has since had eight solid years of trial and tribulation I ve aged a good two decades in those eight years. Romanescque This is apparently the earliest written piece in the collection, and it is a celebration of storytelling in three parts each a character portrait and a warning about the mysterious ways of kharmaTaro the Wizardis a smart but lazy kid in a small village He learns magic from old books and saves the villagers from several natural disasters, but when he tries to cast a spell of beauty of himself, hoping to catch the eye of a local girl, Taro ends up in a totally different position than expectedJirobei the Fighteris the second son of a wealthy merchant, a drunkard and a wastrel some autobiographical notes here, also He wants to win the respect of his neighbours, so he starts to train obsesivelly in martial arts Jirobei gets so big and strong that nobody wants to fight with him, so he cannot demonstrate his skills The one time he throws a punch in jest, it ends in disasterSaburo the Liaris another kid from a wealthy family, son a a holy man Saburo tries to get away from under the shadow of his father s success, but his methods are unorthodox, mostly cheating and envious lashing at luckier kids Yet the talent for lying turns Saburo into a succesful author when his tall tales prove popular with other students and with the general publicBy lying to others, and to himself, he fervently tried to obliterate his crime from reality and from his own heart, and thus, in the course of growing up, he became a walking, talking mass of prevarication A coda of the overall story has the three characters meeting in a tavern and deciding to make the best of their hard luck The theme of the artist as a professional liar will be reiterated in the last story of the collection Lanterns of Romance marks a circular journey back to the five siblings we met in the opening story They are engaged here in another game of sequential storytelling, but with some added input from grandparents and parents The author even places himself in the background of the actionI loved that family I cannot pretend that my description of their household conforms precisely to facts, however To put it in such overblown terms causes me than a little embarrassment, but my account included certain elements that fell short of Goethe s ideals of poetry and truth There are even a few colossal lies mixed in Once again, the youngest son is claiming the right to start the procedures, but his ambition is not the equal of his skills How can a young boy deal with writer s blockHis heart pounding, he leafed through various books from his shelf a copy of Grimm s Fairy Tales, a volume of stories by Hans Christian Andersen, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and so on Stealing a little bit from here, a little bit from there, he somehow managed to throw something together All stories have been told a thousand times already, so why not have some fun with Rapunzel The youngest son mixes in a few alien elements, but who s complainingDinner consisted of frogs grilled on skewers the skin of a pit viper stuffed with the fingers of small children a salad of death cups, wet mouse noses, and the innards of green caterpillars swamp scum liqueur and a citric acid wine, fresh from the grave it was brewed in This was all topped off with a confection of rusty nails and fragments of church window glass The elder sister makes an effort to strike a original noteThe real story always begins where the love story ends, so she explores what happens with the prince and Rapunzel after the happy ending The days of wine and roses are slightly incompatible with the modern worldview We are born to spend most of our days in the midst of bland, bleak reality The second son and the second daughter do their best, but their own personality shortcomings serve mostly to muddle the waters The eldest son is not much help eitherThe eldest son had always been too serious, and his powers of imagination were as a consequence severely underdeveloped It would seem that the irresponsible and crafty one is, the likely one is to have a talent for storytelling Grandfather to the rescue The old rogue who still likes to visit the geisha houses at eighty puts the cherry on the cake Any connoisseur knows you ve got to be drunk to really enjoy a good romance In other words, most of the stories we read are an attempt to escape from a grim reality But what else can we do Suicide, like Dazai did a few years later, is not a valid solution for me I would rather have romance.I lied myself just now The epilogue is not an invitation to get drunk and party while the world burns Grandfather gives the symbolic medal for storytelling to his daughter in law and tells her not to give up, to continue to tell stories Promise you ll always take good care of these fine grandchildren of mine I am strongly persuaded to read from Osamu Dazai, but I am a little shy of finding out his other books are bleak, less hopeful than this one.