Japanese Literature

I just finished this novel, which translates as “the heart of things,” and recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese culture and especially to writers. Soseki Natsume is a master storyteller.

Wikipedia says, “Major themes in Sōseki’s works include ordinary people fighting against economic hardship, the conflict between duty and desire (a traditional Japanese theme; see giri), loyalty and group mentality versus freedom and individuality, personal isolation and estrangement, the rapid industrialization of Japan and its social consequences, contempt of Japan’s aping of Western culture, and a pessimistic view of human nature.”

Nutsame’s quiet voice and brevity of words throughout the length of the novel gave me the impression of dwelling inside a poem. His language also seemed to match the mood of the spare settings—rural villages, a graveyard. The artful manner in which this writer sustained tension, the prolonged grief of his central characters, is something to marvel at, if you can see beyond the agony that you will undoubtedly feel when reading this story.