Lemon (Novel) (檸檬 (小説))

Lemon is a story by Motojiro KAJII. The story appeared in 1925 at the head of the first issue of 'Aozora' (Blue Sky), a dojinshi (publication sold directly and not via commercial publishers) that Kajii published with Takao NAKATANI and Shigeru TONOMURA. Later, through the efforts of his friends such as Tatsuji MIYOSHI, a collection of Kajii's stories was published by Musashinoshoin in 1931, a year prior to his death. This story is known as Kajii's most famous work.

Summary

After it was published the story was highly praised by critics such as Hideo KOBAYASHI, and contributed to Kajii's reputation in the literary world. Kajii also wrote a poem with content similar to it.

Plot

I,' the protagonist, had lung disease and always suffered from an illogical anxiety, and losing interest in the things 'I' used to enjoy, such as music, poems, and 'my' favorite stationery store Maruzen, then wandering aimlessly around the city.

One day, 'I' happened to stop in front of a fruit store on Teramachi-dori Street that 'I' frequented (the store was 'Yao' in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, which went out of business in January 25, 2009). There lemons are on display, a rare sight. I' eagerly bought a lemon, finding the cold texture of the fruit comfortable for 'my' feverish hand and 'my' anxiety somewhat diminished. Then 'I' stopped by Maruzen, which 'I' had not visited for a while, but the store makes 'me' uneasy again.

I' looked through books of paintings that 'I' used to love but 'I' couldn't shake the feeling of unease, so feeling frustrated 'I' placed the lemon on a pile of books imagining the lemon to be a bomb. Following this, 'I' imagined how things that made 'me' uneasy had been blown to pieces by the lemon bomb and enters a state of excitement, alone.

Interpretation

The story depicts the feelings of a sick person and the mischievous desires of the individual. As a tuberculosis patient himself (and dying young due to the illness), many of the protagonists in Kajii's stories have lung disease.

It should be noted that Maruzen at that time was near Sanjo-dori and Fuyamachi-dori Streets. It is also said that there has been no end to the number of people who have visited Maruzen's Kyoto branch (closed in October 2005) and left a lemon.