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The Walter Times

The Walter Times

The Walter Times

Book Review: Flowers of Buffoonery


Shame on me for making such a mockery of myself. Blame it on my wounded pride. The fact is that my fear of being ridiculed is so intense I’d rather beat my critics to the punch. That’s the epitome of cowardice.

— Osamu Dazai

The Flowers of Buffoonery by Osamu Dazai is truly an exception in Japanese Literature, boldly breaking nearly every rule of the era and exemplifying the deepest basements of Dazai’s psyche. His utilization of an omniscient narrator, a distinctly western device in the 20th century, was nothing short of inventive, serving as a mirror into Dazais self consciousness and criticisms of the human condition. Exploring the darkest aspects of the human condition and the follies of our society and the expectations and regulations it places on us. 

The book’s narrative follows Ōba Yōzō’s recovery at a seaside Sanatorium after a failed suicide pact between himself and a lover. During his stay, close friends and family visit at his bedside, through these interactions Dazai makes light of and exaggerates the arrogant foolishness of humanity’s logic and entitlement, buffoonery if you will. 

This commentary is only enhanced by Dazai’s own, frequent, interjections as a self conscious narrator giving us a view into how Dazai views himself within his own criticisms and how he sees himself as the epitome of humanity’s darkness. “A man crushed by reality puts on a show of endurance. If that’s beyond your comprehension, dear reader, then you and I will never understand each other.”

In summary the Flowers of Buffoonery is worth the read, if you are determined it is most certainly possible to read it, unabridged, in just a few short hours. Though prepare yourself, for it can be quite the dark read, but should you make it to the other side you will be better for it!

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About the Contributor
Hunter Vann
Hunter Vann, Editor-in-chief
Hunter Vann, 12th grade, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Walter Times student run newspaper of One School of the Arts and Sciences. Hunter has been a part of the OS family for the past five years and is dedicated to its continued growth and improvement. Hunter Vann is committed to improving Scholar’s wellbeing by expanding access to information and building cultural understanding through leading many projects within OS; the Lion's Roar Podcast, OS book club, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, and an upcoming, yet to be revealed, literary-magazine project. As a Chinese American Hunter Vann understands the importance of projecting undervalued and underrepresented voices in media. As such he remains dedicated to maintaining the Walter Times as a safe harbor for free thought as long as he serves.
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