Osamu Dazai was a significant Japanese author whose work explored the human condition and the struggles of post-World War II Japan. His most notable work is the novel "No Longer Human" (Ningen Shikkaku in Japanese, 1948), a semi-autobiographical account of Dazai's struggles with depression and alienation.
Osamu Dazai (太宰 治) was the pen name of Shūji Tsushima.
Osamu Dazai was born in Kanagi, Aomori Prefecture. He grew up in a wealthy family and attended prestigious schools before dropping out to pursue a writing career. Although his father wanted him to be a politician, at age 20, he applied to the Tokyo University French Literature Department.
For most of his lifetime, he was a drug addict, an alcoholic, and a tuberculosis sufferer.
Dazai's early works reflected his personal struggles with mental health and addiction, including his 1940 novel The Setting Sun, which focused on the downfall of a noble family in the aftermath of World War II.
His later works, the collection of short stories The Otogizoshi (1945) and the novel No Longer Human (1948), cemented his legacy as one of Japan's greatest writers.
No Longer Human was his last book. It documents his childhood, university years, and the time in which he acquires tuberculosis in detail. The novel has been translated into many languages and has become a classic of Japanese literature, inspiring countless adaptations, including films, television dramas, and manga.
No Longer Human still resonates with readers worldwide as it explores universal themes such as identity, belonging, and the search for meaning in life.
Osamu Dazai died by suicide on June 13, 1948, along with his lover Tomie Yamazaki, by drowning in the Tamagawa Canal in Tokyo.