Synopsis[ edit ] A psychiatric patient, who is known only as "Number 23", tells the story of a time he visited the land of the kappa. He had lost his way in the mountains of Hotakadake and was surrounded by a group of the strange creatures, who then showed him around their home. He found that the world of the kappa often appeared to be the opposite of how things were in the human world. For instance, foetuses are asked by their fathers whether or not they want to be born.
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Shelves: japanese-lit Yes, it is a farcical satire; I get that. Bah-bah-boring from Akutagawa, a master who did better elsewhere with pretty much everything he wrote before fulfilling the 20thC. Japanese author categorical imperative of killing Yes, it is a farcical satire; I get that. Japanese author categorical imperative of killing himself. He always did have awesome hair, though.
The plan was to try to read it during the day and I managed to see it through. I had no problems following the narrative. In fact, the writing style of this short novel is fairy simple. Nor does it takes a great effort to understand what it is about. The human satire, directed to Japanese After not reading anything in what feels like forever due to health problems , I put this book in my bag when I left home on Saturday.
The human satire, directed to Japanese society, is in many ways universal and easy to understand. Narrated by a psychiatric patient, this novel managed to escape the state censure and speak openly about problems in Japanese society. Kappa is basically a satirical description of an imaginary society populated by creatures from Japanese mythology, the so called kappas. The irony in Kappa feels more modern, even if the satire itself is reminiscent of Swift. Personally, I think Orwell would be a better equivalent of an English Akutagawa with its dystopian novel or modern satire such as Animal Farm.
Kafka also comes to my mind when I think of writers to compare Akutagawa with. Religions, ideologies or even intellectual accomplishments- it all may serve to fuel the basic animal like desires. I would say that Kappa is a pretty universal story. This novel while it does criticize some aspects of Japanese society in detail, is mostly criticizes the human society as such.
A feeling of disappointed in human society is quite strong in this one. The author also really seems to hate women having read facts from his bio, it seems to be result of a personal trauma but still it might be hard to read to some. Apart from that, this novel reads easily. The author seems to be disillusioned with every aspect of human society: the religion, the authority and the government. This short book criticizes both communist and capitalist figures, seeing through them.
I did enjoy reading this novel, as dark as it was. This was my first reading of Akutawaga btw. My conclusion? Akutawaga was a brilliant writer. Such a shame he killed himself the same year he wrote this book. The writer does flirt with death a lot in this one.
Maybe it is not the best book for overly sensitive people. It is definitely dark and pessimistic, but in an intelligent kind of way.
You know, like Kafka, Orwell and the rest.
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