Download E-books Lieutenant Lookeast and Other Stories PDF

By Masuji Ibuse

Trans John Bester

collection of works spanning many years of Masuji Ibuse's writing career

Plum Blossom via Night
Lieutenant Lookeast
Pilgrims’ Inn
Old Ushitora
Life at Mr. Tange’s
Yosaku the Settler
Savan on the Roof
Tajinko Village

FROM Preface
The paintings o f Masuji Ibuse is an got flavor; now not within the sense
that it is tricky to get pleasure from on first interpreting, yet in the experience that
extensive acquaintance with it deepens one’s excitement and under­
standing o f its art.
At seventy-three, Ibuse can glance again over a huge and varied
output, from the 1923 “ Salamander” to Black Rain, the 1965 novel
on Hiroshima, and past. so much o f it, with the exception o f
Black Rain, is composed o f items o f brief or medium length—which is
one cause, probably, why he has been much less translated than some
other eastern writers o f related stature.
The diversity o f issues, as the ten tales in this booklet exhibit, is
wide. There are the early, extra consciously literary and intellectual
pieces with a robust point o f delusion such as “ Salamander.”
There are semi-autobiographical items such as “ Carp” (1926).
Other relatively early items, o f which “ Plum Blossom by
Night” (1930) is an effective instance, appear to owe extra, either in form
and demeanour, to the eu brief story.
There is a physique o f tales on historic issues, represented here
by “Yosaku the Settler” (1955). it's a attribute of those that,
while occasionally drawing seriously on documentary resources, they
succeed via what seem to be the easiest o f capability in giving the
characters humanity, the environment a feeling o f reality, and the theme
a common relevance. The similar ability used to be to serve Ibuse in good
stead whilst, in Black Rain, he created a paintings o f paintings out o f a mass
o f firsthand bills o f the bombing o f Hiroshima.
There are many scenes o f kingdom existence that express, alongside with a
vivid appreciation o f the virtues and shortcomings o f the Japanese
peasant, a vein o f mild humor that is chanced on at its broadest in
“ outdated Ushitora” (1950). sometimes, as within the identify tale, “ Lieut­
enant Lookeast” (1950), the humor supplies solution to biting satire; to
read this paintings is to become aware of the depth o f feeling that lies behind
the mild mocking o f human foibles.
In a really huge staff o f medium-length tales, not often novels
in the authorised experience, a critical figure—a village policeman, a
doctor, an worker at an inn—serves as the connecting hyperlink for
a sequence o f loosely attached episodes. those episodes diversity from
the briefest o f pix, meant to caricature in one human being
with a number of telling strokes o f discussion or description, to extra or less
self-contained brief tales. those works, o f which “ Tajinko V il­
lage” (1939) is a stable instance, count much less on an total form
than at the slow building-up o f a personality and the portrayal of
a approach o f existence in a specific part o f society. therefore a paintings like
“ Tajinko V illage” can inform one extra approximately prewar rural society
in Japan—and specifically its solidly human qualities—than many
a sociological study.
Some works, ultimately, such as the notable “ lifestyles at Mr.
Tange’s” (1931), convey a mixture o f realism and symbolism,
broad humor and poetry, realism and fable, that reveal Ibuse’s
techniques at their such a lot crucial and defy classification.
Despite the range of subject matters, the tales proportion definite character­
istics o f method and demeanour. There is the absence of extended
descriptive passages, o f “fine writing” for its personal sake. Characters
and actual settings are sketched in with a few info that are
concrete and specific. round them, there is house. The effect
is to provide the characters anything o f the standard o f caricatures, or
o f actors on a level: they are concurrently a bit of higher than
life and obvious at a distance.
The writing is spare. rigorously molded pictures and fragments
o f discussion be triumphant each one different with out remark. The mood
changes subtly, frequently suddenly. results are equipped up by means of setting
these diversified parts subsequent to each one different with out unnecessary
padding. The influence is o f a self-effacement on the half o f the
author that extends to a dislike o f underscoring any aspect too
heavily. The discussion makes its issues slyly; occasionally the mo­
tives, even the motion itself, are half-concealed.
This dislike o f too truly said positions is one o f the most
marked beneficial properties o f the character that emerges from Ibuse’s work.
Yet one feels that the paradox isn't really an indication o f weak spot, yet o f a
conscious distaste for assertive statements, based in a fullness o f
experience. bobbing up from the interplay o f components that are in­
trinsically robust, it comes to be felt as constituting, in itself, a
positive statement.
The different visible features o f the author’s character are
humor and compassion, well-worn if basic virtues that are
dispensed in a combination atypical to Ibuse. The humor is frequently gently
mocking, directed now at a specific person (the hero of
“ Plum Blossom via Night” ), now at highbrow pretension
(“ Salamander” ), now at genteel prudery (the extinguishing o f the
lamp ahead of the mating o f Myokendo’s cow in “ previous Ushitora” ),
now at the author’s personal individual (the author from Tokyo, additionally in
“ previous Ushitora” ) . every now and then, as in “ Carp,” it virtually turns out a weapon
o f self-defense opposed to an extra o f feeling.
The compassion is occasionally, as in “Yosaku the Settler,” im ­
plicit in the topic o f the tale. yet it is at its subtlest and most
effective whilst it combines with humor, as in the passage in
“Yosaku” the place the thief imagines himself returning one day to
die in the imperial tomb that he has helped to rifle, or in Mr.
Tange’s recollections and the arrival o f Ei’s spouse in “ lifestyles at Mr.
Humor, compassion, a plebeian caliber, an absence o f senti­
mentality, a indifferent, virtually satirical view o f humanity, abrupt­
ness, a sophisticated poetry, a powerful feeling for the japanese countryside
in its unprettified actuality—it is no ask yourself that a few Japanese
critics have pointed out a similarity among Ibuse and Hokusai,
especially the Hokusai o f the “ Thirty-Six perspectives o f Mt. Fuji.” And
once the resemblance is famous, it's tempting to remember additionally Hoku­
sai’s modern, Hiroshige, along with his romanticism, sentimental­
ity, lyrical feeling for colour, and his larger urbanity, and to see
the artists as representing opposing facets o f the Japanese
character that can be detected in literature as good as in paintings. Yet
whether that parallel can be validly drawn or now not, it truly is yes at
least that Ibuse’s paintings has a power and deep-lying humanity
that merits recognition in the West either for its personal sake and for
the mild it throws on the japanese character.
John Bester

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It’s beautiful undesirable, I count on? ” H e introduced his face on the subject of mine, and within the dim mild I in­ spected his wounds with all of the assumed composure o f a doctor’s assistant. 12 “This is negative! ” With my left hand within the pocket o f my cloak, I moved his chin up and down and back and forth with my correct. “I see. . . . ” I stated. “N ow placed your chin up a bit extra. I name this a section a lot, quite! Y ou’ve been poked within the cheek with a stick or whatever, haven’t you? ” “I ’ve no thought, i used to be inebriated. ” “The wound in your mouth, too— it appears as if it’s been tom open on the nook. No enamel free? ” H e ran his tongue around his tooth. “ M y tooth are very well. ” “T hat’s stable. Now, for those who get domestic, inform your boss this: you have been going domestic under the influence of alcohol on a streetcar, status at the step having fun with the breeze, along with your fingers tucked into your kimono sleeves, whilst the streetcar unexpectedly rounded a curve and also you have been shaken off head first. and also you have been unfortunate sufficient to strike your cheek on an upturned paving stone. ” “ I see. convinced— that’s what I’ll inform him ! ” “I needs to say, your face is a piece too broken even for that, that's awkward. yet nonetheless, he may well swallow it when you lay it on thick adequate. ” I took m y hand clear of his chin. “Two issues you’ll need to maintain reminding him of,” I further. “ First, that you just fell along with your chin down, and moment that you just have been, in any case, inebriated. ” “Right you're! thank you! You’re a good fellow. ” He puffed out his cheeks, expelled the air, staggered, and spat. “Well, I ’m off,” I acknowledged, making to take my depart. “So quickly? Now, I name that unfriendly! ” He lunged after me, and that i concept he was once going to insist on our taking a stroll jointly. yet he thrust out his correct hand as an alternative. Assuming that, as continually with drunks, he desired to shake arms, I stretched out my very own hand, to obtain now not a handshake yet anything remarkably like a coin that he attempting to press into my palm. As I drew my hand again in a reflex move13 ment, there got here the unmistakable sound of a coin falling to the floor. retaining directly to my cloak with one hand, with the opposite he picked up the article that had fallen onto the floor in the dead of night and held it up within the gentle of the lamp. “ D am n! ” he acknowledged. “A copper coin. ” rapidly, he tucked the coin away within the pocket o f his cloak and fetched out anything else. wakeful o f the smile spreading over my face, I disregarded his arm in an try and make my get away, whereupon he all of sudden thrust no matter what he was once keeping into my cloak pocket. Taking it out, i discovered it was once a five-yen word. “You have been attempting to provide me this, weren’t you? ” I acknowledged. “W ell, you’re not likely to. the following. . . . ” I put it at the brim of the delicate hat he was once donning and attempted to escape. yet he had an organization grab at the flap of my cloak. unexpectedly, he began to prod me within the chest. “ good day, that’s adequate! ” I cried. “W hat d ’you imagine you’re . . . ? ” “ It’s since you w on’t take it. Y ou’re too immense on your boots. should you don’t take it, I ’ll inform humans you probably did this to my face. ” H e set approximately throttling me, with each signal of self assurance in his personal ability.

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