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“Sansho the Steward” by Ogai Mori

I’ve just finished the last class of Saturday Class of this term. I have had great fun with all the participants. Thank you all very much for joining my classes! It’s been my pleasure to introduce Japanese authors and their works.


The work we read and discussed today was “Sansho the Steward” by Ogai Mori. Although Ogai Mori is not that well known internationally, he is as significant in Japanese literature as Soseki Natsume is. A number of writers in Japan have tried to emulate his style by actually writing his stories sentence by sentence. Kafu Nagai once famously put “If you want to be a good writer, you need only two things: one is a good dictionary and the other one is Ogai’s works”.


There is a famous movie based on this story called “Sansho the Bailiff” directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It got the Silver Lion at Venice Film Festival. One scene in Jean-Luc Godard’s cult movie “Pierrot Le Fou” is said to have been inspired by this film. If you haven’t watched it, I would strongly recommend it. You can’t beat the fusion of Ogai’s beautiful story and Mizoguchi’s cinematography that easily.


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