Uno Chiyo is a devastatingly powerful novelist. Her own tempestuous life-style and eroticism are stamped on each page of Confessions of Love, written in Japan of the thirties and conceived at a time when progressive women with bobbed hair and Western clothes challenged the restrictions imposed on a woman’s place in society.
Confessions of Love is based on the real life story of one of Uno Chiyo’s lovers, the artist Togo Seiji, whose double-suicide attempt is mirrored in the novel’s hero Yuasa-kun, an artist who has recently returned to Japan, is estranged from his wife and child and coolly dissociated from the moral consequences of his actions. In many ways he anticipates the existential hero of Sartre’s La Nausée and Albert Camus’s L’Etranger. He is a man powerless to resist the sexual attractions in his life and the various degrees of freedom that they appear to offer.
Something of his unfulfilment is voiced in this analysis of his emotions:
‘Had I ever been in love? Never. That was because I wasn’t the type of man who falls in love, was I? I had in fact become nothing more than a scoundrel who had cleverly learned his lessons while