Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination

25 08 2014

Going by my brief experience with Japanese literature, which can be put down to lot of strangeness, eeriness,196150 mystery, and intrigue, I expected heavy doses of the distinct flavor from The Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I expected to be completely blown off, to encounter the unexpected which would leave me shaken and/or dumbfounded. I can’t say I was disappointed, but rather pleasantly surprised. These are classic stories by the father of Japanese mystery – Edogawa Rampo (Taro Hirai) way back from 1950s. Besides enjoying the very clever and original plots of these stories, I was glad to realize that there was little of the illogical and unexplainable eeriness, which, in my opinion, usually add only to the complexity and somehow seem very artificial crafted only for the purpose of bewitching the reader. Forgive me, if I am over-generalizing things here. But, as I mentioned earlier, I’m speaking honestly out of my meager exposure to the popular Japanese literature.

These tales are simple and yet captivating. True that these psychological mysteries have their share of eccentricity with a tinge of perversion and body-shuddering turn of events, but I must say, it’s not really bad. Or, maybe my tolerance level is a bit high given my  considerable reading history. 😛 While each one of them is chilling,  a couple of tales, which have truly struck me as brilliant are: The Red Chamber and The Human Chair.

On a related note:

Of late, I find myself disturbed by some of the stuff in popular fiction. We have all read and/or listened to a lot of stories throughout our lives. There are some, which half a century earlier would have been a novelty and stirred our interest. The very same ones are stale now, and barely get our attention. Many of those things have become predictable. So now, in an attempt to invent new things to keep up audience’s interest, some people feel compelled to come up with bizarre and very unnatural stuff – extreme violence, gory, perversion, incest and what not. It seems to be easier compared to sticking to simple things and yet innovative enough to make them unpredictable. But the easiest way is not always the right way.

I don’t deny that the “dark” has always existed. But I believe that it should not be exposed to unsuspecting humanity at large. Again, I’m not generalizing things. There is good stuff too. My point is that it makes me sad when such negative things gain popularity and are widely available.

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