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Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
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Kokoro (original 1914; edition 1957)

by Natsume Soseki

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1,530344,802 (3.93)1 / 142
Member:SqueakyChu
Title:Kokoro
Authors:Natsume Soseki
Info:Gateway Editions (1957), Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:Japanese fiction

Work details

Kokoro by Natsume Soseki (1914)

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Wonderful novel... never read any lit crit of this, but seems like an allegory for the end of the Meiji era in Japan; the death of the original oligarchy that felled the Tokugawa and ruled the country for 40 years or so... translation is minimalist and gorgeous. ( )
1 vote BooksForDinner | Jan 26, 2016 |
Written 100 years ago, but with a story just as relevant and heartbreaking as when it was first published, Kokoro chronicles a few years in the life of a young Japanese university student upon meeting and acquainting himself with a mysterious older man who he come to refer to as Sensei. Throughout the course of this book, our nameless protagonist begins to spend more time with Sensei and somewhat gain his friendship, but, Sensei has a dark secret which has taken much joy out of his life. Throughout the first part of the book Sensei remains a figure shrouded in mystery, and our protagonist comes to respect Sensei.

The book is split into three parts. The first part, as above shows our protagonist spending time with Sensei and pondering over the man's mysteries. The second part has our protagonist returning home to the country in order to be with his dying father, and finally the third part is a long missive written by Sensei, which reveals the dark secrets of his past.

Overall I would say this is a book you owe it to yourself to read. It is not action packed, and if you are unfamiliar with Soseki's other work, then it may do you good to first read one of his more lighthearted works such as I am a cat (1905), because make no mistake, this novel will put you through great emotional turmoil by the end. Some may call this book slow, but if you want to read something quiet, reflective, and downright beautiful, then look no further.

Of final note, the translation of this novel is very good, and flows perfectly in English, and all cultural allusions have been detailed in the footnotes and introduction when required. ( )
1 vote hickey92 | Jan 24, 2016 |
This novel is blow-me-away kind of gorgeous. It's my first novel by Natsume Soseki who has been considered to be Japan's finest contemporary novelist. I think that most Japanese fiction, in its simplicity of voice is beautiful, but this story has a grace in a class by itself.

It's a story about friendship, love, and betrayal. It's strength lies in the last part of the book in which we hear directly from Sensei, a friend of the university student who narrates the beginning of this book, as Sensei reveals how one important decision he makes during his life causes him unending guilt and deep spiritual pain.

I sincerely want to delve into more work by this amazing Japanese writer. I can't believe it took me so long to remove this book from my bookshelf and finally read it. What a treasure! ( )
1 vote SqueakyChu | Jan 11, 2016 |
Read it few years back in malay language translated by Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka.

I think this book is just do brilliant in build up of a melancholy sense of humanity which are destined to be hopeless and abandoned.

A must read to whom who want to discover a real melancholia of human being as seen from orient point of view.
( )
  aziz_zabidi | Dec 5, 2015 |
Something to read in conjunction with Stefan Zweig's The World of Yesterday, I think. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Jul 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Soseki, Natsumeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McClellan, EdwinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKinney, MeredithIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKinney, MeredithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I always called him “Sensei.”
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Could that delicate and complex instrument that lies in the human breast ever really produce a reading that was absolutely clear and truthful, like a clock's hands pointing to numbers on its dial?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0895267152, Paperback)

Nineteenth-century Japanese novel concerned with man's loneliness in the modern world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:28 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"No collection of Japanese literature is complete without Kokoro, the last novel Natsume Soseki complete before his death in 1916. Published here in the first new translation in more than fifty years, Kokoro--meaning "heart"-is the story of a subtle and poignant friendship between two unnamed characters, a young man and an enigmatic elder whom he calls "Sensei". Haunted by tragic secrets that have cast a long shadow over his life, Sensei slowly opens up to his young disciple, confessing indiscretions from his own student days that have left him reeling with guilt, and revealing, in the seemingly unbridgeable chasm between his moral anguish and his student's struggle to understand it, the profound cultural shift from one generation to the next that characterized Japan in the early twentieth century" --Cover, p. 4.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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