Terayama Shuji :: When I Was a Wolf


When I Was a Wolf
Outlaw Takes on Fables and Fairy Tales


Translated by Elizabeth L. ARMSTRONG

First published in 1982, this delightful collection of essays and rewrites reinterprets, from a nonconformist perspective, such well-known and canonical Western stories as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Mother Goose stories, and Aesop’s fables.

Like Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, the author "breaks open classic fairy tales to find new things in them." Both Carter and Terayama give the tales a radical twist laced with dark taboo-violating undertones. The first half of this book includes Terayama’s subversive analysis of such stories as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Bremen Town Musicians, Pinocchio, and Puss in Boots. In the latter half, he offers his own rewrites of Thumbelina, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. In every case, he turns the story on its head, and then having thrown the reader off balance, asks them to follow him into new territory of unorthodox interpretation, arguing that the conventional interpretation of a story we have read for pleasure since childhood is ill-conceived and thoughtless.
  • Pages: 174
  • Trade paperback 5" x 8" (127mm x 203mm)
  • ISBN Softcover 978-4-902075-97-7
  • Cover: Cristiano Salgado
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About the author
Terayama Shūji (寺山 修司; 1935 - 1983) was one of the most prolific “outlaw” writers in the 1960s and 70s in Japan. His work is well known domestically, but unfortunately he remains virtually unknown outside of Japan, except among specialists. Terayama wrote poetry, essays, novels, short stories, film scripts, and plays, and made films short and full-length, as well. As an iconoclast and agitator, he was frequently on the fringe of the literati expressing counter-culture, revolutionary ideas about social behavior, sexuality and philosophy.

About the translator
Elizabeth Armstrong is a professor in the East Asian Studies Department of Bucknell University. She received her BA in East Asian Studies from Colby College, and her MA from Indiana University in Japanese Language and Literature. She currently teaches Japanese language and translation, among other things, and participates in the Associated Kyoto Program. Previous publications include The Crimson Thread of Abandon (MerwinAsia, 2014), an English-language collection of short stories by Terayama Shūji.