A Dark Night's Passing
Tells the story of a young man's passage through a sequence of disturbing experiences to a hard-worn truce with the destructive forces within himself.

A Dark Night's Passing Details

TitleA Dark Night's Passing
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseDec 1st, 1979
PublisherKodansha International
ISBN-139780870113628
Rating
GenreCultural, Japan, Asian Literature, Japanese Literature, Fiction, Literature, Classics

A Dark Night's Passing Review

  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Shiga Naoya "dismissed Mishima's fiction as all 'fantasy' with little 'sense of reality.' (Shiga was another writer Mishima admired who did not reciprocate his sentiments.)"(Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima)There's certainly a sense of reality to "A Dark Night's Passing"; it's a detailed account of an unhappy young writer's experiences in pre-war Japan. There's no trouble with money, luckily for him. The focus is his personal relationships, his work, and how he feels about himself and his l Shiga Naoya "dismissed Mishima's fiction as all 'fantasy' with little 'sense of reality.' (Shiga was another writer Mishima admired who did not reciprocate his sentiments.)"(Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima)There's certainly a sense of reality to "A Dark Night's Passing"; it's a detailed account of an unhappy young writer's experiences in pre-war Japan. There's no trouble with money, luckily for him. The focus is his personal relationships, his work, and how he feels about himself and his life.Touching, very sad, nice visits to various parts of Japan (Takamatsu and Matsuyama, Shikoku fans!) ... and not much that's magical. I wouldn't go for another of his novels ... even if he'd written one ... but I will look out for his short stories."This isn't the best time of year for tempura. It's always wise not to take chances between seasons.""Kensaku remembered the legend so often told: a girl, in love with a young man living on another island, swam every night from her island to his, guided by a beacon; the young man then ceased to love her, and one stormy night blew out the light and let her drown.""They were in a dark alley. Suematsu stopped, faced the wall and began urinating. Just then a young man wearing a felt hat low over his eyes walked past him. 'Forgive me,' Suematsu said solemnly. The young man walked on, ignoring the apology. 'Idiot!' shouted Suematsu. 'How dare you not answer when someone speaks to you!' And as soon as he had finished urinating, he began running after the young man, ... Kensaku stood in the middle of the narrow alley, his arms stretched out, and blocked his friend. The young man quickly disappeared around the corner.'Let me have a good fight, please,' said Suematsu, his breath reeking of alcohol."
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    i'm not going to say that this was my favorite book by any means. having said that, i have nothing but respect for the author. i can appreciate that this is a very influential novel in terms of style and candor. without it, we might not have the other great writers of japanese nostalgia, etc. great. SPOILER ALERT, btw.if i were around when this was published, i'd propose to the author (if i may be so bold) that he should name each of the four sections of the book. part one: kensaku as snob. part i'm not going to say that this was my favorite book by any means. having said that, i have nothing but respect for the author. i can appreciate that this is a very influential novel in terms of style and candor. without it, we might not have the other great writers of japanese nostalgia, etc. great. SPOILER ALERT, btw.if i were around when this was published, i'd propose to the author (if i may be so bold) that he should name each of the four sections of the book. part one: kensaku as snob. part two: kensaku as bitch. part three: kensaku as sap. part four: kensaku as complete a**hole.i hope i'm not the only one that saw kensaku as an antihero throughout the entire book. he acts like such a baby, is completely socially awkward and ridiculous. in this, he's like a japanese larry david, except not nearly as funny. ok, he's nothing like larry david.i was also under the impression that shiga used the text as a soapbox for his own criticisms on various art, some of which are based on uneducated misunderstandings of the artistic medium in which he criticized. par example, he poo-poos schubert's erlkönig, and then, in the same breath, goethe. 'oh, but maeterlinck knows how to treat death because he's belgian (read: french), and, since i'm japanese, germanic art is meaningless and shallow.' we can't see through you, shiga؟ok, so part four. kensaku develops into this beast of a character, like the social bull in a china shop. he and naoko (she's so weak-willed - they're perfect together) have a baby together - naonori. that's a sick name, btw. the thing dies a bit later, so naturally there's going to be this sadness. but kensaku is one step ahead of you. he's so charming that he bitches his wife out: 'srsly?! ur crying? stfu! who cares about the bebe? that's so last week. oei needs help, so i'm gonna peace out for a bit but i'll bbl. k thx baii! nevermind that ur my wife and i'm supposed to support you. wait, support, what's that? i didn't have a real dad (sad face)' and then naoko is like 'well, alright, you're right. k bye ima cheat on u but don't be hatin'.' so then he gets back and he's like 'no, that's cool u cheated. no big. but ima push u from the train and u'll be lights out for a bit, but then i'll take off so u finally don't have to deal with me for a year, wait, six months. might come back in three. we'll see. anyway ima go again. don't cheat k thx bai.' then he goes out hiking and gets all owwy and naoko rushes to his side cuz he's got cholera but only maybe. are we supposed to feel sorry for him? hope not cuz i don't. and i won't. and neither will you if you read it. i get the impression that shiga is genuinely trying to get the reader to be on kensaku's side the whole time, but knows it's a totally uphill battle and that we're all in the same sinking ship.part of me wants to label this book under fantasy literature because there's such a strong connection with one of the particular conventions of 'fat-girl fantasy' - i.e. that the characters surrounding the main character will still be friends with, go out of their way for, and/or pine over someone who is a) completely boring, b) a complete imbecile, c) a shallow loser, and/or d) a completely aimless freak with no social skills. (cf. heralds of valdemar trilogy by mercedes lackey and the twlight series by stephanie meyer)3½ stars because, despite the rants, i actually did really enjoy the book. (i think the book is meant to bring out this type of discourse - this is in fact exactly what makes it 'good'.)ps does anyone else see the irony in that he's staying at a buddhist temple at the end and got IM-bombed by karma? (ah, the days of IM...now that's real nostalgia!)
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  • Smiley (aka umberto)
    January 1, 1970
    In 2012 I first knew Naoya Shiga from reading his two short stories “Han’s Crime” and “At Kinosaki” in Donald Keene’s “Modern Japanese Literature” (Tuttle 1972) in which I reasonably enjoyed. Some three years later, I came across this lengthy novel and then I was not sure if I should read it; however, I decided to buy it due to his brief biography and some commendation at the back cover. This is his longest novel so I kept reading and found its first two parts a bit boring, probably he has writt In 2012 I first knew Naoya Shiga from reading his two short stories “Han’s Crime” and “At Kinosaki” in Donald Keene’s “Modern Japanese Literature” (Tuttle 1972) in which I reasonably enjoyed. Some three years later, I came across this lengthy novel and then I was not sure if I should read it; however, I decided to buy it due to his brief biography and some commendation at the back cover. This is his longest novel so I kept reading and found its first two parts a bit boring, probably he has written to set the scene due to the complex background of the protagonist, Kensaku, in terms of his illicit birth, a remarkably unimaginable, bold plot that would shatter its readers’ concept of ethics and thus we couldn’t help feeling helplessly agonized from reading this excerpt:Why had his mother done such a thing? Because of what she did he was conceived. He understood that he owed his existence to that act alone, that the two things were inseparable. Yet he could not accept what his mother had done. His mother and that shoddy, common, worthless old man – the mere thought of the association was ugly and unclean.He was then suddenly filled with overwhelming pity for this mother, his mother who had been defiled by that man. “Mama!” he cried out, like a boy about to throw himself into his mother’s arms. (p. 146) Psychologically, there are some rounds of intermitten nagging words between him and his wife, Naoko, till he has to find some means for a retreat somewhere. It's not fair to prefer one side to the other (or the other way round), since it is definitively one of the most difficult cases in many countries; for instance:It was high time, he came to feel, that he started visiting ancient temples and shrines again, seeing ancient works of art. It was late autumn now, a particularly beautiful time. And slowly, as he began to go on pilgrimages – sometimes he would be away for several days visiting such places as Koyasan and Muroji – his state of mind improved. (p. 348)Optimistically, we could enjoy reading this seemingly complex novel for better understanding on a Japanese family of Kensaku and Naoko, as well as their ways of life, conflicts, solutions and so on.
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  • David Haws
    January 1, 1970
    私小説 is a kind of literary anthropology (probably not my favorite genre) but the quality of the writing here is really remarkable—every bit as good as what he maintained in his short stories (no mean feat). I would probably be less interested if I didn’t find pre-War Japanese culture so fascinating, and I feel saddened that Shiga’s didn’t produce more. But then, Austen didn’t produce much either and, I’m sure, would have produced even less if she were using Shiga’s form. Shiga’s writing, in terms 私小説 is a kind of literary anthropology (probably not my favorite genre) but the quality of the writing here is really remarkable—every bit as good as what he maintained in his short stories (no mean feat). I would probably be less interested if I didn’t find pre-War Japanese culture so fascinating, and I feel saddened that Shiga’s didn’t produce more. But then, Austen didn’t produce much either and, I’m sure, would have produced even less if she were using Shiga’s form. Shiga’s writing, in terms of its relentless realism, reminds me of Raymond Carver.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    It grieves me to give this novel a mediocre review, as Shiga remains one of my all-time favorite writers of short fiction. DARK proves to be an example of worst-case scenario in the "I novel" genre: a protracted showcase of the mundane and demoralizing in everyday existence. Nothing I would call enlightening in either the scenarios or the language -- just 400 pages of personal problems that the author primarily brings upon himself. The translator is A-list, so Shiga has to take responsibility fo It grieves me to give this novel a mediocre review, as Shiga remains one of my all-time favorite writers of short fiction. DARK proves to be an example of worst-case scenario in the "I novel" genre: a protracted showcase of the mundane and demoralizing in everyday existence. Nothing I would call enlightening in either the scenarios or the language -- just 400 pages of personal problems that the author primarily brings upon himself. The translator is A-list, so Shiga has to take responsibility for this one.
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  • Harajyuku
    January 1, 1970
    Tokitou Kensaku is inconstant and inconsistent, suspicious, sensitive, judgmental, and prone to fantasy and taking on airs. He undeniably rings true as an authentic human being. I liked particularly (and perversely) the parts where he would start reading a book and then get tired of it, or when he would privately insist on holding on to his first impression of something/someone/someplace.This book started as a firm 3 stars - because it was charming, somehow - but by the end of Part III catapulte Tokitou Kensaku is inconstant and inconsistent, suspicious, sensitive, judgmental, and prone to fantasy and taking on airs. He undeniably rings true as an authentic human being. I liked particularly (and perversely) the parts where he would start reading a book and then get tired of it, or when he would privately insist on holding on to his first impression of something/someone/someplace.This book started as a firm 3 stars - because it was charming, somehow - but by the end of Part III catapulted into 4-star territory. Skillful and very real.
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  • Fabio Saldanha
    January 1, 1970
    Me senti a gif da Nazaré tentando terminar esse livro.
  • M.R. Dowsing
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed reading this, though I'm not sure exactly why! I got through it quickly and easily as the writing style was not difficult at all and somehow the story interested me. It's a semi-autobiographical novel about Kensaku, a writer struggling with his inner demons. At the beginning of the book, he is unaware that the circumstances of his birth were abnormal, but he senses that people in his family treat him differently to others, and this has left him with a deep-seated feeling of insecurity. I enjoyed reading this, though I'm not sure exactly why! I got through it quickly and easily as the writing style was not difficult at all and somehow the story interested me. It's a semi-autobiographical novel about Kensaku, a writer struggling with his inner demons. At the beginning of the book, he is unaware that the circumstances of his birth were abnormal, but he senses that people in his family treat him differently to others, and this has left him with a deep-seated feeling of insecurity. The book tells of his attempts to overcome this and the setbacks he encounters along the way. Kensaku is clearly a self-portrait by the author, although many aspects of the story apparently do not match the facts of Shiga's life. It's a rather self-indulgent, navel-gazing work in a way, and Kensaku - a writer who seems to do very little writing and appears to have enough income not to worry about money - is not an especially nice person. It's to Shiga's credit, then, that he manages to sustain interest in such a character to the end of what is quite a long novel. I'm not quite sure it's the masterpiece that some have claimed. The style is very readable but unremarkable, though it may have lost something in translation, of course. I sometimes had the feeling that the translator had made it a bit too English in a way - 'geta' are translated as 'clogs' for example, but are not quite the same thing. In content, its closest Western equivalent may be the novels of Thomas Wolfe, the American writer of the 1930s, although the style is entirely different. Not for everyone, then, but I'd certainly recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese literature, and I'm intrigued enough by Shiga - whose only novel this is - to want to check out his short stories soon.
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  • Books on Asia
    January 1, 1970
    I came upon the author while walking the Path of Literature in Onomichi, Japan where Naoya Shiga lived for two years. His house has been made into a museum and upon visiting the house, I became interested in the author, in particular this novel because part of the book takes place in Onomichi. Kyoto and Daisen (Tottori Prefecture) also figure prominently. Shiga is an excellent writer and it's a shame he didn't produce more work during his lifetime. In fact, this is his major work, although he wa I came upon the author while walking the Path of Literature in Onomichi, Japan where Naoya Shiga lived for two years. His house has been made into a museum and upon visiting the house, I became interested in the author, in particular this novel because part of the book takes place in Onomichi. Kyoto and Daisen (Tottori Prefecture) also figure prominently. Shiga is an excellent writer and it's a shame he didn't produce more work during his lifetime. In fact, this is his major work, although he was also known for his short stories. His intricate plots and his portrayal of human emotions are his greatest story-telling attributes.
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  • Morris Yen
    January 1, 1970
    雖然是說沒有技巧的技巧,不過真的太平舖直敘了,讓我無法切實地感受到這部作品所創造類似悲劇性的氛圍。
  • Devin Curtis
    January 1, 1970
    What an entirely beautiful book. During certain sections I was surprised to find myself thinking that this was one of the best certainly most emotionally resonant books I'd ever read.Shiga is so unyieldingly honest with his thoughts and feelings that I doubt anyone could withstand being swept up in the heartbreaking moments that this book is so wrapped up in. His treatment of the experience of a young man struggling as a writer is at times uncannily similar to the ways in which I am trying to ap What an entirely beautiful book. During certain sections I was surprised to find myself thinking that this was one of the best certainly most emotionally resonant books I'd ever read.Shiga is so unyieldingly honest with his thoughts and feelings that I doubt anyone could withstand being swept up in the heartbreaking moments that this book is so wrapped up in. His treatment of the experience of a young man struggling as a writer is at times uncannily similar to the ways in which I am trying to approach the subject in my own work. At other times it is vastly different, but it always feels true and moving.My only reservations about the book is the language itself which can be quite stodgy at times, though I have a feeling this could be in large part because I read it in the translation, which is 50 years old at this point. Shiga doesn't strike me at all as the kind of writer who was overly caught up in the tricks of the trade as it were however. His writing has a sort of purity, unblemished by wordplay, tricky constructions, or subversions which are all things I normally like, but in this case would have cheapened the experience I think.
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  • Angela Randall
    January 1, 1970
    Found this book on a list of 20 essential works of Japanese literature. Made this list in Goodreads here.
  • Hilda Ellis-Davidson
    January 1, 1970
    Maybe not his finest work, but still readable.
  • Marilenoe
    January 1, 1970
    This was a book I read when I was 12 years old. I just re-read it and realized how much I missed the detailed messages of the plots.
  • Tocotin
    January 1, 1970
    前篇の方がよかったが、今考えて見ると全体的にいい小説だと思う。主人公は苛々することが多かったが、心理的な面から理解のできる人物なので好き嫌いは別として彼の様々な反応について読むことが面白かった。吉原と芸者の話がもっとあってほしかったが、旅行の描写もよかった、特に最後のお寺のところが好きだった。
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  • Alex Akesson
    January 1, 1970
    I really want to re-read this!
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