Noted added September 16, 2014.
To the many readers of this and related posts from U C L A, please let my 100,000 monthly readers know of your feelings on this story and the others in the collection. I am assuming this book is being read in a class at U C L A and I am very glad to see that. These stories are world class treasures.
I have already posted on four stories from Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath (edited and introduced by Kenzaburo Oe, 1985)- Here are the final four stories in the collection.
"Fire Flies" by Yoko Ota (27 pages first published in 1953) Yoko Ota was already a well known author prior to experiencing the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima. Her writings focus closely on individual victims of the blast. It is the first story in the collection that expresses extreme bitterness about the use of the bomb and in which its use is treated as an immoral decision, in the remarks of a doctor treating victims and by the narrator of the story. I am not sure exactly when the U S Army began to stop censoring the publication of information that could be construed as anti-American but I think it was around 1953 or so. (It should be noted that the Japanese public were never informed in any way concerning the terrible actions of their own soldiers.) The narrator goes to visit a friend she has not seen since August 6, 1945. As she enters the modest house she notices a young girl disappear into a room. It turns out she wants to put on her best clothes to meet the visitors. She comes back into the room.
It was not a girl but a monstrosity. Her deformed face and hands stood out even more grotesquely because she had put on her best clothes..her face was expressionless. I broke down weeping slumped on the wooden board, shuddering but unable to stop my tears. I wished I could stand up, reach out to the monstrous body of the young woman and embrace it. However, Japanese people, and I especially, are not accustomed to expressing emotion in this way.
The narrator begins to speak with the young girl. We find when she goes out people sometimes think she is part of an exhibit. She says people thing of her as a zoo animal allowed out and will sometimes slip twenty yen in her hand. Her eyes have a permanent glow. She cannot eat without spilling food as her mouth and lips were reshaped by the blast.
"The House of Mirth" by Mitsuhara Inoue (1960, 25 pages) deals with the fate of female orphans, now grown to marriageable age, who lived in a rural orphanage near Nagasaki. The girls have been there since 1945, most came at ages from infants to ten years. A few of the girls have married and attempted to have children. Many have miscarried and none has had a child live past four. A suitor (in an arrangement made by relatives) is coming to meet one of the girls. Everyone wants to keep as a secret from the suitor the fact that the woman in question was at Nagasaki when the bomb went exploded. Some villagers see the inability of the women to have healthy children as curse brought on my their adoption of Catholicism in place of their old religions. The became Catholics because the catholic priests helped the orphaned bomb victims. In this well told story we see the bond between the orphaned women and the shunned status of bomb victims Discrimination against bomb victims was evidently worse in rural areas around Nagasaki than elsewhere. Bomb survivors were almost like a class of untouchables. (In a footnote Inoue describes for us the existence of an untouchable type cast of people in the rural areas.). I could find almost no information on Inoue. I could find no images. Oe tells us he was active in the communist party after the war. He was born in 1926.
"The Rite" by Hiroko Takenishi (31 pages) was first published in 1963. Takenishi was born in Hiroshima but was not there on the day of the atomic bomb explosion. She and a friend are their for the erection ceremony for a monument to Tamiki Hara. I have already posted on "Summer Flowers, his story in the collection. Takenishi established a reputation as a critic of modern literature with a profound knowledge of classical literature. "The Rite" appears to be her only work in print in English. This story is the most self consciously artistic of the stories in the collection. It centers around rites of death and rites of mourning interleaved with accounts of the day the bomb dropped. It is perhaps the most beautifully written of the stories. I could find no images of her or really no information at all on her via google.
The stories in The Crazy Iris and other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath all are deeply moving. When I began my blog July 7, 2009 I never thought I would do a series of posts like the ones I have attempted on the stories in this collection. At first I thought no one will read them. I have done google searchs on each of the writers. A few are quite famous but some have little or no information on them on the web and no pages dedicated to them. Somehow it made me feel good when I began to see that people from all over the world were coming to my posts on these figures. In several cases there is nothing else on the web (at least in English) on the writers in this collection. I thank those who have read my posts on this topic and really hope others will read these stories and Mr Oe's deeply felt introduction to the collection. It is also a way to read eight stories chosen by a master writer.
Mel,I promise you. If I can find it, I WILL read this book, for you have made it crucial.Perhaps the more we understand about the aftereffects of such devastating events (never mind the acts themselves), the less we will be inclined to repeat those events. Thank you.
These sound like very important works.
ds-I hope you can get copy of this books as I would very much like to read your reaction
Suko-I hope you get a change to read it
Do you know the novel Black Rain (Kuro Ame?) by Masuji Ibuse?
amalie abroad-I have not yet read Black Rain though I fo sure have it on my TBR list-thank you for visiting my blog
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