The Wild Geese

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Press:Tuttle Pub Tuttle Publishing (December 15, 1989)
Publication Date:1989-12
Author Name:Mori Ogai


In The Wild Geese, prominent Japanese novelist Ogai Mori offers a poignant story of unfulfilled love, set against the background of the dizzying social change accompanying the fall of the Meiji regime. 
The young heroine, Otama, is forced by poverty to become a moneylender's mistress.
She is surrounded by skillfully-drawn characters—her weak-willed father, her virile and calculating lover (and his suspicious wife), and the handsome student who is both the object of her desire, and the symbol of her rescue—as well as a colorful procession of Meiji era figures—geisha, students, entertainers, unscrupulous matchmakers, shopkeepers, and greedy landladies.
Like those around her, and like the wild geese of the title, Otama yearns for the freedom of flight.
Her dawning consciousness of her predicament brings the novel to a touching climax.
Written in 1913, The Wild Geese enjoyed such success in Japan that it was made into a film, shown abroad as The Mistress.

About the Author

Ogai Mori (1862-1922) stands in the foremost rank of modern Japanese novelists. 
His professional success as an army surgeon was outstripped by his even more brilliant ascent in the literary world of the Meiji and Taisho eras.
His work is characterized by a strong humanistic element, a romantic quality effectively tempered by realism, and a lurid style that often rises to lyric intensity, as in the closing passages of The Wild Geese.


Romance,Gothic,Fantasy,Literature & Fiction,Contemporary

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Comment List (Total:9)

  •     It arrived ahead of time, and I couldn't wait to read this book.
  •     I am so happy to have found the book that my great-uncles were reading when they came up with my grandmother's name. Grandma gave the name to my mother, I took it for myself (I liked it so much) and then gave it to my daughter. I just love having the story I heard all my life come to reality.
  •     In The Wild Geese, a tale set in the thirteenth year of Emperor Meiji's reign, an invisible narrator introduces the reader to the handsome Okada, a handsome medical student. During his regular walks through the city he becomes enchanted by an "oval and somewhat lonely" face that smiles at him each day from a window. That face belongs to Otama, the mistress of Suezo, a vain, parsimonious moneylender. Otama's only friend is her weak father, who depends upon her for support. One day a snake slithers into Otama's birdcage and snatches one bird fast in its jaws, while the other bird flails to escape. Okada slices the snake apart and saves the remaining bird. Otama herself is the caged bird, Mori implies; the snake not just Suezo, or her ineffectual father, but the patriarchy that traps her. Mori drives the point home when Okada kills a wild goose in a lake. Otama was infatuated by Okada's freedom to do whatever he wished. Otama's wings were crushed before she could use them, while Okada flew away. Otama formulates a plan to meet Okada, but it backfires, and Okada leaves the country the next day. The narrator called Okada the "hero" of the story, but Okada was a man who felt "a woman should be only a beautiful object, something lovable, a being who keeps her beauty and loveliness no matter what situation she is in." . The two never meet; or, do they? The author suggests there is more to the story, yet refuses to reveal the ending. The Wild Geese is full of allusions and hints, painting a watercolor tale as lovely and enigmatic as Japan herself.
  •     perfect book for an Asian Art Museum, SF docent hoping to learn more about Japanese literature and life during the early 20th C.
  •     Wild Geese is considered a classic in Japanese literature. I started reading modern Japanese literature when we lived in Ukraine, and English language books were a rare find. Wild Geese is a story of both making opportunities and just-missed opportunities. The story revolves around a student and a concubine and the people in their lives, and is not one to read when you are in a happily-ever-after mood. Then again, Japanese lit rarely is.
  •     Well written but dull. When I read various reviews and description of the book I formed the opinion that I would like reading this book, even the introduction makes it sound like...
  •     Since I love classics from any country and especially enjoy novels from Japan, this was a logical choice for me. I wish it had more pages but no matter since the novel was excellent. If you are interested in Victorian Japan, this novel gives an excellent description of the people and the country during that time period. The author gives many tiny details, which are all significant since they give the reader a window into which one can view Japanese society in the nineteenth century.
  •     This is a tale of complex people who in their interaction find life to be much more complicated than they had expected or feared. Suezo, a moneylender, is tired of life with his nagging, highly imperfect wife, so he decides to take a mistress. Otama, the only child of a widower merchant, wishes that she could provide for her aging father, and when an obviously rich man asks her to be his mistress, a new hope beckons. When Otama learns the truth about Suezo, she feels betrayed, and hopes to find a hero to rescue her. When Otama meets Okada, a medical student, she feels that she might indeed have met her hero.This is a bittersweet story, a story of hope and unfairness. The wild geese wish only for freedom, but sometimes others use them for purposes they cannot imagine. Published between 1911 and 1913, this book gives an excellent peek into the society of early modern Japan.This book is an achingly beautiful story, and a fascinating historical document. I highly recommend it.
  •     This love story of a girl who became a lover of an old bill collecter and fall in love with a medical student is a sign of japanese mentality in the drastic changing situation between the periode "Edo" and periode "Meiji". As his first novel "Dancer"in wich he told his uncompleated love in Germany(at that time,having a foreign wife was a taboo), Mori tried to show the example of a conflict of natural feeling of love and the traditional superstition.Why the girl could not acheave her love? In Japan they said that a real love is a love forbidden, but it is sure that what Mori wanted to say in this book is not that beauty.

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