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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


The Hunting Gun

Inoue Yasushi

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To purchase The Hunting Gun

Title: The Hunting Gun
Author: Inoue Yasushi
Genre: Novel
Written: 1949 (Eng. 1961)
Length: 74 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: The Hunting Gun - US
The Hunting Gun - UK
The Hunting Gun - Canada
Le fusil de chasse - France
Das Jagdgewehr - Deutschland
Il fucile da caccia - Italia
La escopeta de caza - España
  • Japanese title: 猟銃
  • Translated by Sadamichi Yokoö and Sanford Goldstein
  • Now also available in a translation by Michael Emmerich (2014)

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Our Assessment:

B+ : haunting small novella

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Independent on Sunday . 22/6/2014 David Evans
Lire . 6/2007 André Clavel
The NY Times Book Rev. . 5/4/2015 Janice P. Nimura
The Spectator . 17/5/2014 Lee Langley
Der Spiegel . 1/9/1965 .
TLS . 1/8/2014 Eri Hotta

  From the Reviews:
  • "In a self-deprecating afterword, written late in his career, Inoue laments the novella’s "very green" narrative technique and the "youthful ungainliness" of the whole. If that’s true, then this is surely the most elegantly ungainly story ever penned." - David Evans, Independent on Sunday

  • "Trois voix mêlées, trois destins brisés, et la même amertume dans un récit cruel, froid, destructeur, implacable. Inoué écrit en tenant la mort par la main, un doigt appuyé sur la détente." - André Clavel, Lire

  • "The story has an elegiac quality, a Chekhovian resonance." - Lee Langley, The Spectator

  • "As the women react to the revelation of illicit love, their perspectives are layered one atop another like the colors in a woodblock print. To be human, Inoue suggests, is to be alone. " - Janice P. Nimura, The New York Times Book Review

  • "Inoue schreibt knapp und kunstvoll." - Der Spiegel

  • "Both of these novellas are delightfully reminiscent of the works of Ryłnosuke Akutagawa, a master of short fiction, known for his beautifully spare prose." - Eri Hotta, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Hunting Gun is a short novella presented largely in epistolary form. It begins with the narrator relating how he came to publish a poem called 'The Hunting Gun' in a magazine put out by the Hunters Club of Japan which a friend of his edits. When he sees it in print the author realizes that it's completely inappropriate, what with his imagery of:

     the glittering hunting gun,
Stamping its weight on the lonely body,
Lonely mind of a middle-aged man
       But he doesn't hear anything back about his poem -- good or bad --, and figures: "it was probably never read at all." A few months later, however, he does receive a letter from someone who had read the poem -- and saw himself in it. Calling himself 'Josuke Misugi', the letter-writer then goes on to send the poet three letters he received, presumably in the hopes that they'll explain why he looked the way he did -- with that: "impression of loneliness" -- and which the poet presumably had glimpsed when composing the poem.
       The three letters addressed to Misugi were written by a mother, her twenty-year-old daughter, and Misugi's wife. Each can't face him personally -- his wife even addresses him as "Mr. Josuke Misugi" --, but break with him in these letters, written in close proximity; one of the women is a suicide, the other two feel differing betrayals.
       Misugi's wife claims:
First of all, you've never had anything to do with loneliness. You've never felt lonesome.
       But after this, of course, as he finds himself truly (and triply) abandoned, lonesomeness will of course grip him.
       One of the women writes:
     To love, to be loved -- our actions are pathetic.
       She recalls first thinking about the difference between being loved and loving when still a teenager, and remembers how practically everyone sought to be loved; in her letter she reflects that perhaps this is, indeed, the lesser of the two -- and cries that:
I am now getting the punishment of a woman who couldn't stand the pain of loving and who sought the happiness of being loved.
       The poet closes his story with a few words, wondering what Misugi might have taken from these letters, but the condemning -- of Misugi, and of the women who wrote them-- letters largely speak for themselves.
       In these three separate short accounts (and the brief framing sections), The Hunting Gun manages to very effectively present the complexities of the passion and relationships at work here, making for a surprisingly rich work. Very effective, quite haunting.

- M.A.Orthofer, 26 January 2011

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The Hunting Gun: Reviews: Inoue Yasushi: Other books by Inoue Yasushi under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Inoue Yasushi (井上 靖) lived 1907 to 1991.

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© 2011-2015 the complete review

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