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No Longer Human Tragically Well Worth it.

The semi-autobiographical story of No Longer Human It is considered Dazai’s best book. It has graphic adaptations such as that of the mangaka Junji-ito.

Osamu Dazai was a Japanese writer that was born on June 19, 1909, and killed himself on June 13, 1948, in the rain-swollen Tamagawa Canal.

photo via under Creative Commons licenses

Dazai wrote multiple books that are now considered modern-day classics in Japan such as ‘The Setting Sun,’ ‘Schoolgirl,’ and ‘No Longer Human.’

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The setting of No Longer Human

The story takes place around the mid-1920s-1930s in pre-WWII, Japan. A feeling of nationalism, liberation, and union in which our protagonist, Yozo, feels completely alienated, exists in Japan.

The story

No Longer Human, a semi-autobiography published in 1948, a few months before Dazai took his own life.

“Mine has been a life of much shame. I can’t even guess myself what it must be to live the life of a human being.” This phrase along with the feeling of being disqualified as a human being will be recurring themes throughout the story.


Taking into account that Dazai committed suicide a few months after the publication of the book is not a minor detail, since the author had mental illnesses that lead him to try to commit suicide several times throughout his life.

The book composes of three notebooks (chapters), in which Yozo tries to have a log of his life, to understand what made him feel unworthy of being human. Through these notebooks, Yozo narrates his history, showing his mental and physical degradation throughout his life.

Analysis of No Longer Human

The book begins with an introduction by someone other than Yozo and ends with an epilogue that is also written by someone outside of Yozo. The introduction and epilogue describe how this anonymous person feels about Yozo. This is a detail that I find quite interesting since the story revolves around Yozo. We never see the thoughts and feelings of the other characters in the book. This detail can symbolize the look of society towards Yozo and how people feel about him.

“Before anyone realize it, I had become an accomplished clown, a child who never spoke a single truthful word.”

In the book, there is one scene, in particular, that is quite symbolic. Yozo’s father would be traveling to Tokyo. He proceeds to ask his children what they would like him to buy for them. Yozo ends up choosing a lion mask in order to keep his father happy and continue to cover his alienation. When Yozo’s father gives him the mask, he performs a performance full of buffoonery and in which he ends up peeing himself in order to finish crowning himself as a clown.

Later, during Yozo’s college years, he ends up dropping his studies. He became an alcoholic and addicted to morphine, and spent his money on prostitutes.

During these years he meets Horiki, another art student at the university. Horiki ends up taking him to a secret communist meeting.  Yozo expresses not being really interested in the match, however, he ends up joining anyway. This shows quite a big contrast since it reflects a feeling of union and camaraderie that Yozo did not feel included in: ” I was deceiving them completely. I was not their comrade.”

Is This Book Recommended?

No Longer Human was one of the most difficult books I have ever read due to its content. Suicide, rape, addiction, misogyny, and severe depression are central themes in the book. Usually, these kinds of topics don’t affect me that deeply, but Yozo’s downgrade was completely different.

I have a love-hate relationship with the story because is so tragically well-written. You understand why the protagonist acts in such a way, but nevertheless, you know that Yozo is not a good person at all. The book became one of my favorites and I highly recommend it if dark topics like rape and suicide aren’t triggering for you.

The story makes you think about what would have happened if Yozo had received some kind of support since his childhood; It makes you wonder what would have happened if Yozo had found something to hold on to that wasn’t self-destructive.

I think the reason the book affected me so much is that there are aspects of Yozo that you can deeply relate to. Ironically, I think Yozo is one of the most humane people in the whole book. Maybe if he had received the support and help he needed, the story could have ended differently.



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About the Contributor
Asher Ramires, Reporter
Asher Ramires is a 17-year-old who is in his senior year. He likes to study social sciences, listen to music, sing, and sometimes read. He's also Argentinian and speaks fluid Spanish because he lived 14 years of his life there. His favorite subject is history and history of the popular music. He wants to follow psychology as a career and study in Argentina because education is free or cheaper there, but if head the opportunity, he would like to study at Palermo University. He also finds some kind of comfort in the sad entertainment. Most of his favorite shows, movies, books, and musicians create really depressing entertainment.

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No Longer Human Tragically Well Worth it.