Writer, researcher, translator, critic

The Wild Geese


Ogai Mori, The Wild Geese [Tokyo; 1913]


My favorite of the books I've forced myself to resume reading after an unintentional summer vacation from books, The Wild Geese is a slim novel published in installments from 1911 to 1913 by a writer who has sometimes been called a representative of Japanese Romanticism, but there's nothing Byronic or Brontëan about this carefully-considered, elegantly-constructed examination of less than a year in the social and emotional life of a young woman who has become the mistress of the local moneylender, and the small circle of people she knows or affects, including her maid, her father, her keeper's wife, and a student who sees her at a window. It's so faultlessly constructed that the symbolism of the last, crudely masculine, act in the novel comes as a slap of cold water after spending so much time in hazier feminine quarters. It's anti-romantic (in all senses), and after having spent a lot of time this year in the literature of the era I admire it all the more for refusing to point out an obvious moral or draw a neat bow on the plot. We get a glimpse as though through a window, and then back into the rest of the world.

August 12, 2017