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Fires on the Plain

Fires on the Plain (Japanese: 野火 Nobi) is a Yomiuri Prize-winning novel by Ooka Shohei, published in 1951. It describes the experiences of a soldier in the routed Imperial Japanese Army on the Philippines in the final days of World War II.

Plot introduction

The story is told through the eyes of a Private Tamura who after being thrown out by his own company, chooses to desert the military altogether and wanders aimlessly through the Philippine jungle during the Allied campaign. Descending into delirium, Tamura is forced to confront nature, his childhood faith, hunger, his own mortality, and in the end, cannibalism.

Literary significance & criticism

The book received the Yomiuri Prize and, along with Tsukamaru made, is perhaps the best-known of Ooka's work among English readers. An English language translation by Ivan Morris was completed in 1957. It was made into a film of the same name in 1959, directed by Kon Ichikawa and starring Eiji Funakoshi. David C. Stahl has noted that Morris expunged sections where the narrator makes clear that he is manipulating the memoir, while Ichikawa focused on the helplessness of the individual in the face of war. In both versions, the Tamura character is more passive and weak than in the original work.

Notes and references

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