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Mori Ogai: The Dancing Girl

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on 25 October 2015

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Transcript of Mori Ogai: The Dancing Girl

Mori Ogai
The Dancing Girl
Considered one of the leading authors of the Meiji period
Grew up in Tsuwano
Son of a doctor, mother was very strict and drove him to strive for academic excellence
Was the youngest person to graduate from university with a medical degree at the time, became an army surgeon
Sent to Germany by the army to study medicine
Learned about European philosophy and literature
When he returned to Japan, he wanted to modernize Japanese medicine and literature
Mori Ogai
The Dancing Girl: Summary
Story begins with Toyotaro reflecting on returning to Japan after 5 years spent in Europe (Berlin, Germany)
He says he was dissatisfied with studies and realized how sad and transient life can be, cannot get rid of remorse
He has always done what he was told, studied and worked hard
He meets Elise
They grew closer and people assumed he was seeking pleasure with the actresses from the theater - his employment was terminated
Their feelings deepened and they grew closer
Elise gets ill
Toyotaro accepts a translation job with the count
Aizawa suggested he break off relations with Elise for his own good
The count asks the protagonist to go to Russia with him, at the same time Elise finds out she is pregnant and is fired from the theater
The Dancing Girl: Summary
While Toyotaro was in Russia, Elise sent him letters every day
When he first came to Germany, he "swore never to be used as a machine again" but he still feels trapped
After they return, the count asks him to go to Japan with him, he agrees
"Obsessed by the thought that [he] had committed an unforgivable crime" (24), he faints when he gets home
Regains consciousness weeks later, Elise looks very ill
Aizawa told her about the promise to end their relationship and his plans to return to Japan
She collapsed and went crazy, will never recover
Elise lives in mental asylum, Toyotaro leaves behind money for her mother and the birth of her baby and returns to Japan
The Dancing Girl: Summary
Being a "robot"

Following the system

Keeping up appearances

Was the Toyotaro ever truly not a machine?

Did he ever find his true nature, or was his true nature being a "machine?"
What do you think about Aizawa's role in the story?

What do you think about the quote: "Friends like Aizawa Kenkichi are rare indeed, and yet to this very day there remains a part of me that curses him." (25)
Linnea Rauen
There seem to be many parallels to Ogai's life, do you think this story is based off of Ogai's experience in Europe?
Full transcript