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.