“Great writers can be terrible human beings” was once a truism. Now great writers who once did or said anything terrible by current standards, be it sexist or racist or both, are being unceremoniously tossed on the “cancelled” pile.
One prime candidate for cancellation would seem to be Osamu Dazai (1909-1948). Long heralded as the greatest Japanese writer of the postwar era for such classics as “The Setting Sun” and “No Longer Human,” Dazai was also a womanizer whose turbulent love life scandalized the Japanese literary world, but hardly discouraged his female admirers. He had a child out of wedlock with one, Shizuko Ota, and drowned himself in a Tokyo canal with another, Tomie Yamazaki. Meanwhile, his wife, Michiko, was trying to raise two children on her own as Dazai flitted from lover to lover.