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“The Idiot” by Ango Sakaguchi


Ango Sakaguchi

Yukio Mishima once said if Dazai Osamu is sweet sake, Sakaguchi Ango is vodka and gin. Indeed, his prose is brutally strong and scorching. He was born in Niigata prefecture and majored in Indian philosophy at university. His essay “Discourse on Decadence” together with this story made him famous. “The Idiot” was written in 1946, immediately after WW II. The story unfolds in Tokyo in March and April 1945. Tokyo was flattened by a series of air raids, the most devastating of which is that of March 10. Only one day claimed over 100,000 people. The protagonist, journalist and “education” film director lives in the neighborhood of whores, a madman, and a thief. He flees from the bombardments with a woman who is “feeble-minded”. There is neither hope nor despair. They just keep moving forward.


Is there any distinction between human beings and animals? What is the real difference between the mad man and normal people? What differentiates “artists” from the others? This story questions morality, art, and human beings.

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