Ogai Mori was a true master storyteller. His skillful writing captivated you right from the beginning of the story. And what a poignant story it was!
While reading this novella, I can’t help comparing the marriage process between the rich and the poor in Japan in the old days. The wealthy family in Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters had time, money, and leverage to investigate the prospective bridegroom meticulously. The process might take months to complete and to make a decision. On the other end of the spectrum, Otama and her poor father in The Wild Geese couldn’t afford to do the background investigation. They relied on and trusted the greedy matchmaker. And what fools were they made! All Otama could do was to cry out “It’s not fair! How cruel!”.
The poor yet elegant Otama just wanted a simple and happy family, and freedom to live and fly anywhere like a wild goose. Yet her fate was just like that of one of the wild geese that was captured and cooked and served by the university students.
In just 120 pages, Ogai Mori created a charming story with well fleshed out characters. A beautiful novella!
Translated by Kingo Ochiai
Published in 1911 (Japanese), 1959 (English, this edition by Charles E. Tuttle Company).
T. Hoang Oct. 2019