11 February, 2012

Kokoro by Natsume Soseki (1914)

I suspect you need to be Japanese to really understand the nuances of this novel. Narrated by a young university student, Kokoro tells the story of an older man who feels compelled to face the wrongs he thinks he has committed in his life. The inter-generational conflict between old and new values is at play throughout this work, mirroring the emergence of Japan from isolationism during the Meiji Restoration. Now I like to think of myself as one who can handle a slow, deep novel, but this really is ponderous. Honestly, it's like a never-ending tea ceremony.

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