Black Rain: A Novel (Japan's Modern Writers)
After the war Ibuse started literary collaboration with Osamu Dazai , whose suicide in deepened Ibuse's views how fragile the life is. Although they eventually drifted apart, Ibuse was his patron in Tokyo literary circles, tried to persuade him to stay away from the drugs, and interacted with his family. In , they were evacuated to the same village. According to Ibuse, his friend already seemed prepared to die. Hyomin Usaburo also dealt with experiences of men who left Japan and drifted along strange paths during the last years of the Tokugawa period. In the allegorical short story 'Noriai Jidosha' The Charcoal Bus Ibuse tells about a journey in a bus, five years after the war.
As we passed a Shinto shrine by the side of the road, the conductor removed his cap and wiped the perspiration from his forehead. As he did so, he bowed his head slightly, and I wondered whether this was intended as a mark of respect for the shrine. Such reverence had been unfashionable for some time after the war but was now gradually coming back into favor.
The conductor's gesture seemed deliberately ambiguous. Quarrelling passangers push it four miles to start the engine. Finally, at a crossroads, the narrator decides to take another bus, so does some other people.
The rest say that they continue pushing. When Black Rain appeared, it was generally thought that Ibuse, the elder statesman in the Japanese literature, was on the verge of retirement. However, Ibuse was not interested in being labelled a champion of political causes and later, when he was asked to speak about the novel, he responded that he had nothing to say.
Before his death of pneumonia in Tokyo on December , Ibuse produced still several works, including the autobiographical Hanseiki Debate over Black Rain has continued after its publication. Among others the Nobel laureate Oe Kenzaburo has seen Ibuse's fiction as an attempt to humanize the inhuman. However, Black Rain has become perhaps the world's best known Japanese novel.
The novel is based on historical records of the devastation caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. However, Ibuse do not refer to social or political considerations that led to the atomic holocaust. Sometimes his characters criticize the wartime government but otherwise Ibuse his view on everyday level. In the depiction of ultimate act of violence, Ibuse uses contrasts between horror and humor, destruction and beauty, the state and the individual. The narration alters between Kobatake, a rural hamlet some distance from Hiroshima, at a time several years after the end of the war, and Hiroshima itself in the days immediately after the bombing.
The protagonist, Shizuma Shigematsu, a real-life person, tries to find a husband for his niece, Yasuko. Shigematsu, his wife Shigeko, and Yasuko reassure prospective husbands that Yasuko was not affected by the radiation, although she was under the black rain that followed the destruction. Shigematsu reads his wartime diary to understand his own life. Yasuko gives up all hopes of marrying and falls ill with radiation sickness. Masuji Ibuse Tsuruta and T. Cohn ; Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century , vol.
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Black Rain Japan's Modern Writers
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Japan's literature of the apocalypse - The Globe and Mail
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