Heibon (Mediocrity) (novel) (平凡 (小説))

Heibon is a fiction written by FUTABATEI Shimei. It was a serialized novel in the Tokyo Asahi Shinbun in 1907. After Ukigumo (Drifting Clouds) (FUTABATEI Shimei) and Sono Omokage (An Adopted Husband), Heibon was the third full-length novel that Futabatei wrote. Sarcasm towards literary naturalism which was a dominant trend of the time is detected in this story.


I (the main character and the narrator of the story) am turning 39 years old this year and a junior civil servant who used to be a writer. Thinking back on the past, I started with reminiscing about my childhood. Meanwhile, an old friend of mine affiliated with the literary circles came to visit and after talking nonsense (such as literary discussion, gossips circulating in the literary circles and urging me to write) for some time, he left. However, dismissing nonsense that my friend said, I would have preferred to hear words of loving concern from my parents asking after my health, I began reminiscing about my parents and the dog Pochi that was our family pet during my elementary school days. And thus began the story of Pochi, the dog that was said to have often been quoted in school book. Finishing up to the point where Pochi was killed, I churned out a lineup of superficially lofty language. But then I brushed what I had just written off as a heap of lies, with the only truth being that all people looked like dog killers. After graduating from middle school, I came to Tokyo to study law and developed a passion for literature and started to make a mockery of people who were working hard. After the first big seller, my writing career became smooth sailing but, while I was infatuated with women, my father had fallen ill and when I rushed home, it was too late. Coming to my senses thanks to the overpowering reality of my father's death, I went back to Tokyo with my mother and left literary circles to start my job at the government office where I remain employed at present.

Comment on works of FUTABATEI Shimei

There are many issues such as organization with this book but, nevertheless, it is a work which shows FUTABATEI Shimei, who was regarded as something of an advisor in literary circles, at his best.

[Original Japanese]