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Natsume Sōseki (1867–1916)

Author of Kokoro

199+ Works 9,468 Members 220 Reviews 48 Favorited

About the Author

Natsume Soseki's early education included the study of Chinese classics and architecture, but as an English literature major he found his life's work, as well as the friendship of haiku poet Masaoka Shiki, an important personal and literary influence. Soseki's prose, for example, is often show more interspersed with his own haiku. In 1900 the Japanese government sent Soseki, who was a professor of English literature, to London, but, poorly funded and isolated, he found his years abroad painful and began to exhibit neurotic behavior. On his return, he shocked society by giving up his teaching position at Tokyo University to write fiction for the Asahi newspaper, a profession associated with the world of "entertainers." Despite poor health in the last years of his life, Soseki continued to write an average of one novel a year. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Soseki Natsume

Series

Works by Natsume Sōseki

Kokoro (1914) — Author — 2,735 copies
I Am a Cat (1906) 2,202 copies
Botchan (2005) 1,051 copies
Kusamakura (1906) 648 copies
Sanshirō (1908) 531 copies
The Gate (1910) 433 copies
And Then (1909) 265 copies
Light and Darkness (1916) 165 copies
The Miner (1908) 132 copies
Grass on the Wayside (1915) 115 copies
I am a Cat: Volume I (1972) 110 copies
Wayfarer (1912) 103 copies
Ten Nights' Dreams (2000) 71 copies
The 210th Day (1906) 56 copies
I Am a Cat II (1979) 52 copies
Inside My Glass Doors (1915) 48 copies
I am a Cat III (1986) 37 copies
The Heredity of Taste (2005) 30 copies
Petits contes de printemps (1909) 25 copies
Spring Miscellany (1910) 19 copies
Haikus (2001) 16 copies
Nowaki (2011) 9 copies
E poi (2012) 8 copies
Rafales d'automne (1907) 8 copies
Ardindan (2022) 6 copies
Noorsand (2022) 6 copies
Der Bergmann (2018) 5 copies
Tintes del cielo (2013) 5 copies
吾輩は猫である 下 (1965) 5 copies
Madenci (2019) 4 copies
El gorrión de Java (2019) 4 copies
Sanshirô (2020) 3 copies
Botchan (2024) 3 copies
Poèmes (2016) 2 copies
Flechador del cielo, El (2013) 2 copies
Ben Bir Kediyim (2018) 2 copies
Sueño de la libélula (2013) 2 copies
Călătoria (2004) 2 copies
草枕・二百十日 (1968) 2 copies
道草 (1990) 2 copies
La porte (2021) 2 copies
HABITACIONES (2010) 1 copy
Nỗi lòng 1 copy
DIX NUITS DIX REVES (2018) 1 copy
Küçük Bey 1 copy
Ngày 210 1 copy
On Gece Düsleri (2021) 1 copy
Cam Kapinin Ardi (2020) 1 copy
Üc Köseli Dünya (2022) 1 copy
Gönül (2018) 1 copy
A kapu 1 copy
I Am a Cat 1 copy
Mon individualisme (2021) 1 copy
道草 1 copy
漱石人生論集 (講談社学術文庫) (2015) — Author — 1 copy
私の個人主義 (2012) 1 copy
野分 (2012) 1 copy
Meian 1 copy
El caminante (2023) 1 copy
I Am a Cat, No. II (2022) 1 copy
Raffiche d'autunno (2017) 1 copy
草枕 (2017) 1 copy
吾輩は猫である (2016) 1 copy
我是貓 (1994) 1 copy
Eu, motanul (2010) 1 copy
Le goût en héritage (1906) 1 copy
KOKORO 1 copy

Associated Works

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Common Knowledge

Members

Discussions

Sanshirō by Natsume Sōseki in Author Theme Reads (March 2012)
Kokoro by Natsume Soseki in Author Theme Reads (February 2012)
Botchan by Natsume Soseki in Author Theme Reads (January 2012)

Reviews

Couldn't really get into it
 
Flagged
ritaer | 38 other reviews | May 14, 2024 |
First published in 1914 and set during the end of the Meiji Restoration, the novel explores how changing Japanese society profoundly effects an older and a younger man as they strike up an unlikely friendship. The novel was initially serialized in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper over the course of five months. The serialized novel was titled Kokoro: Sensei no Isho, though this was shortened for the print run of the novel to simply Kokoro, which translates variously as heart, mind, affection, courage, and resolve. Kokoro is one of the best-selling novels in Japan and has been hailed as one of the country’s most important works of 20th-century literature.
Perhaps my favorite Soseki novel, Kokoro is a reflective, quiet book. At times poignant and touching and as with all his work, beautifully written.

For further reading on Natsume Soseki's life and work here is an article I put together recently
https://quizlit.org/natsume-soseki-and-modern-japanese-literature
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Flagged
Quizlitbooks | 65 other reviews | Apr 20, 2024 |
Very interesting. Told in the first person by our young narrator, then transitioning to a letter told in the first person by the other central character, Sensei. Written in the early part of the 20th century and describing the struggle to find meaning in the new open Japan. Also an odd seeking for a father figure that I didn't quite understand, as our narrator's father was still alive, though very provincial, and I guess he was seeking a father figure more in tune with how our narrator saw himself. He didn't find it. The section describing his father's terminal illness was moving and realistic, though as you will see generated a major plot element that I won't describe. The transition to the letter from Sensei was a bit of a weak section but picked up and became powerful towards its conclusion.
Overall a fascinating read, a solid 4.0
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Flagged
diveteamzissou | 65 other reviews | Apr 3, 2024 |
I felt like reading Kokoro because the characters in The Great Passage talked about it. Yes, I will take book recommendations from fictional characters now, thank you very much ;)

The writing is like looking at the sea, seeing the waves come and go. The rhythm lulls you and you follow along, almost despite yourself. It feels both light and heavy, simple and very intricate.

This short novel has 110 chapters. The reader can take a breath in between, reading slower, reflecting, letting thoughts settle for a moment. I liked that.

There are three stories here:

📖 The unnamed young narrator who meets and comes to admire an older man he calls Sensei. “Admire” is the wrong word, though, it is more of an intellectual obsession born out of loneliness and an undefined youthful longing for “something else”. A very strange, yet compelling, friendship dance follows, with the narrator always wanting more, and with Sensei always drawing back.

“...whenever some unexpected terseness of his shook me, my impulse was to press forward with the friendship. It seemed to me that if I did so, my yearning for the possibilities of all he had to offer would someday be fulfilled.”

There are hints of tragedy and dark secrets in Sensei’s past, and his marriage is a melancholy thing. Sensei seems to fear the young man’s admiration.

“The memory of having sat at someone’s feet will later make you want to trample him underfoot. I am trying to fend off your admiration for me, you see, in order to avoid your future contempt.”

📖 The narrator coming to his parents’ home to be with his dying father. These are harrowing chapters. Young man’s time with Sensei has corrupted him somehow, I feel, made him less of who he should be. The decision he makes at the end of Part 2 is impulsive and rash. We never see its aftermath, making it all the more tragic.

📖 The third story is Sensei’s letter, his confession. The love story has a lovely beginning. “Whenever I saw her face, I felt that I myself had become beautiful.” I found the portrayal of romantic love in a misogynic society interesting. How does a clever, sensitive man reconcile romantic love with his contempt for women in general? (He tries. He doesn’t, not really.)
With the love triangle in place, the story turns ugly. It is about people unable to express their feelings and talk to each other about them. This evolves into an emotional impotence and an inability to act when you need to (it gets tedious for the reader, though).Words said and words unsaid destroy everyone involved.

“Words are not just vibrations in the air, they work more powerfully than that, on more powerful objects.”

Sensei does a vile, dishonourable thing. After that, his life is but an imitation of one.

It’s interesting how things authors don’t show you can still be powerful – we never see the young man’s reaction to the letter, but just thinking about it hits you hard.

I feel melancholy after finishing, but I liked the experience of reading this classic.
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½
 
Flagged
Alexandra_book_life | 65 other reviews | Mar 30, 2024 |

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Associated Authors

Jay Rubin Translator
Meredith McKinney Translator, Introduction
Yoko Ogihara Translator
Edwin McClellan Translator
Michael Rougier Cover artist
Graeme Wilson Translator
Jean Cholley Traducteur, Présentateur
Aiko Ito Translator
Ryôji Nakamura Translator
Joel Cohn Translator
Umeji Sasaki Translator
Asaga Tairin Cover artist
Damian Flanagan Introduction, Translator
Lydia Origlia Translator
Alan Turney Translator
Goyō Hashiguchi Cover artist
Haruki Murakami Introduction
Francis Mathy Translator
Alexander Parsonage Cover designer
Pico Iyer Introduction
John Nathan Translator

Statistics

Works
199
Also by
11
Members
9,468
Popularity
#2,539
Rating
3.8
Reviews
220
ISBNs
559
Languages
23
Favorited
48

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