The Flowers of Buffoonery opens in a seaside sanitarium where Yozo Oba — the narrator of No Longer Human— is convalescing after a failed suicide attempt. Friends and family visit him, and nurses and police drift in and out of his room. Against this dispiriting backdrop, Yozo and his visitors try to maintain a lighthearted, even clownish atmosphere: playing cards, smoking cigarettes, vying for attention, cracking jokes, and trying to make each other laugh. Dazai is known for delving into the darkest corners of human consciousness, but in The Flowers of Buffoonery he pokes fun at these same emotions: the follies and hardships of youth, of love, and of self-hatred and depression. A glimpse into the lives of a group of outsiders in prewar Japan, The Flowers of Buffoonery is a fresh and darkly humorous addition to Osamu Dazai’s masterful and intoxicating oeuvre.
Dazai’s usual concerns in a lighter, more comic key,… captures the sweetness under the pretended bravado of these baffled youth.
—Andrew Martin, The New York Times
This beguiling novella from Dazai (1909–1948) revisits the protagonist from the author’s No Longer Human at a younger age…Dazai brings wit and pathos to the chronicle of Yozo’s four days at the sanatorium, as Yozo’s jocular banter with an art school classmate, a younger cousin, and a nurse belie a deep despair. In a few artful strokes, Dazai has sketched a memorable character.