Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Edogawa Rampo's "Moju: The Blind Beast" plus Film by Yasuzo Masumura





Ah, such a perfect read while I am in Japan.  I first heard the name "Edogawa Rampo" from my wife who told me that his writings would give me a certain amount of pleasure.  And as usual (the wife is always right) she is correct.    Rampo is a pen-name, and if you say it really quickly, you will see that the name is based on Edgar Allen Poe.  Rampo's favorite writer, and truly his work is up there with the master.  Except he's more pulpy, more lurid, more...out there.

Rampo is the master of the field that is called "Erotic-Grotesque" in Japan.  A mixture of horror with sex.  And his short novel "Moju" is a perfect example of that genre.  The narrative is about a blind man who is obsessed with the gesture of touching woman with his 'skilled' hands, and then eventually killing them, and cutting them up in pieces.  He also has a genius in displaying his 'work' either by making sculptures made by human parts, or displaying the corpse or part of the corpse in rather imaginative ways.

Rampo goes for the throat, and what makes him so unique is that he has these amazing set-pieces, that is a combination of creepy, funny, but always filtered through the eyes of an aesthetic soul.  I can imagine his stories are not for everyone, but strange enough he has even written (god forbid!) 'young adult' adventures.  A low-rent Tanizaki, but with the brilliance of a B-film genius.   Rampo needs to be exposed to a larger readership in the West.  Hopefully we'll see more of his titles translated into English.

Down below is the film version of the novel, directed by Yasuzo Masumura.  Its a classic piece of Japanese cinema and I strongly recommend watching this film:



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