The Wild Geese by Ogai Mori (Japanese Literature Challenge 14)


The Wild Geese is one of the most elegant, subtle love stories I have read. It is one of those pieces of classic Japanese literature which lead you into thinking not much is going on until you finish it, and find yourself unable to think of little else.

Like so many works of Japanese literature, the reader enters the story and leaves, with little resolution. We are free to decide what we will about the beautiful mistress of a usurer, and her subsequent scorn of him, who makes eyes at a handsome young university student. Every day he passes by her window, and soon, he is taking off his hat with a little bow.

She longs for him. She makes plans to invite him to her home while her master is away on business. And we wait, wondering if the master will come early; wondering if the university student will come to her home at all.

Things have a way of taking unexpected turns, just like the innocent goose at the end of the story. It is suddenly killed with a deftly thrown rock while napping, as the rest of the flock flies away. Free.

I will not stop thinking of this piece for a very long time.

12 thoughts on “The Wild Geese by Ogai Mori (Japanese Literature Challenge 14)”

    1. For a provocative book, one for which I’m not entirely sure I have grasped every nuance. The comparison of the dear mistress to the dead goose is indeed thought-provoking, but what was she a victim of? Class? Love? I’m not entirely sure even now.

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    1. I think that so many Japanese writers are so adept at creating a wonderful atmosphere, and giving us lots to think about without pounding us. They offer a story with shades of meaning, open to lots of interpretations, and I think that is one of my favorite parts of the “genre”.

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    1. I had not heard of it before, either, but I was searching the ebook selection at our library (as it was closed!) for Japanese literature, and this title came up. It is apparently a well-known classic, just not known to me (the hostess of the Japanese Literature Challenge!). There is always room for learning on my part, and I love discovering a new-to-me author, a new work of exceptional Japanese fiction. I highly recommend this work.

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  1. I just posted on a very interesting short story by Oagi Mori, “Under Reconstruction”- it also features an unresolved romance with a German woman the narrator met while he was in Berlin, as was the author. I have added Wild Geese to by TBR list.

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  2. That’s a really haunting story. The title, the cover — and the way you’ve described the story. I’m guessing it doesn’t end happily — I’ve come to think that Japanese love stories are usually of the star-crossed variety, with a melancholic beat throughout. It’s own kind of beauty.

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