Translation Works
The 2nd Selected Works
A Dark Night's Passing
(Anya koro)
FRENCH / Marc Mécréant published
Originally Published by:
Kaizosha (1937)
  • A full-length novel by a writer representative of modern Japanese literature
  • A monumental work that established the genre of creative realism in literature
A psychological novel that portrays the emotional seasoning and purification of a protagonist born of a liaison between his grandfather and mother
Kensaku Tokito is six when his mother dies of illness following childbirth and is subsequently raised by his grandfather. As an adult, he lives a life of debauchery and writes novels while being supported by remittances from his father. He once proposes marriage to a childhood friend called Aiko but is rejected. He then proposes marriage to his grandfather's mistress, Oei, but she also refuses him. The reason, he learns, is that he has the accursed fate of having been conceived as a result of an affair between his grandfather and his mother. Upset by this, Kensaku tries to concentrate on writing his novel, but he is unable to prevent himself from feeling miserable.
He frequents prostitutes to alleviate the emptiness of his life and eventually moves to Kyoto. Here, he is attracted to Naoko and marries her, but their first child dies of erysipelas. Kensaku, who had finally begun to see light at the end of the tunnel, is filled with a renewed consciousness of the malice of his fate. He simultaneously feels revulsion toward his own perverse ways of thinking, and this drives him deeper into depression. Later, he learns that Naoko has committed an indiscretion with a cousin during his absence. He resolves to forgive his wife, but his feeling of forgiveness is at odds with his temper. Unable to restrain his irritation, he finally is driven by emotion to thrust his wife away.
Hoping to soothe his conflicted emotions, Kensaku goes to the town of Daisen, on the coast of Tottori Prefecture. There, he feels a change come over his heart as the wounds related to the circumstances of his own birth and his wife's indiscretion begin to heal. Going for long hikes in the mountains, Kensaku feels himself at one with the expansive natural surroundings and becomes euphoric.
This is an epic portrayal of emotional discord, as the protagonist makes strong willed efforts to overcome periods of despair and self-abandonment in order to survive the harsh circumstances of his life.
GENRE: Literary fiction
2018 International Translation Forum on Contemporary Japanese LiteratureJLPP Translation Workshop 2018