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Anyway, out of such motives I finally made love to Kesa. Or rather I
forced myself on her. And now I come back to my first question—no, there’s
no need for me to go on wondering whether or not I love her. Sometimes I
hate her. Especially when it was all over and she lay there crying . . . as I
pulled her up to me she seemed more disgusting than I was. Tangled hair,
sweat-smeared make-up—everything showed her ugliness of mind and body.
If I’d been in love with her till then, that was the day love vanished forever.
Or, if I hadn’t, it was the day a new hatred entered my heart. To think that
tonight, for the sake of a woman I don’t love, I’m going to murder a man I
don’t hate! . . .
I despise the woman. I’m afraid of her. I detest her. And yet . . . perhaps
it’s because I love her.
Kesa: . . . at last I yielded my corpselike body to the man—to a man I
don’t even love, a lecherous man who hates and despises me! Couldn’t I bear
the loneliness of mourning my lost beauty? Was I trying to shut it out that
delirious moment when I buried my face in his arms? Or, if not, was I myself
stirred by his kind of filthy lust? Even to think so is shameful to me! shameful!
shameful! Especially when he let me go, and my body was free again, how
loathsome I felt! . . .
On the pretext of sacrificing myself for my husband, didn’t I really want
revenge for the man’s hatred of me, for his scorn, for his blind, evil lust? Yes,
I’m sure of it. Looking into his face I lost that queer moonlight exhilaration
and my heart froze with grief. I’ll not die for my husband—I’ll die for
myself. . . .
Is that the wind? When I think all these torments will end tonight, I feel an
immense relief. Tomorrow the chilly light of dawn will fall on my headless
corpse. When he sees it, my husband—no, I don’t want to think of him. He 290 The Fruits of Modernity loves me but I can’t return his love. I have loved only one man, and tonight
my lover will kill me. Even the lamplight is dazzling . . . in this last sweet
torture.24 Akutagawa’s suicide in 1927 by means of an overdose of sleeping pills
was one of the most sensational news events of...
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- Spring '13