Kokoro – “the heart of things”

April 9, 2007

kokoro.jpgKokoro was written in 1919 by Natsume Soseki during the Meiji period of Japanese history. It is a novel that is delivered as three distinct but related stories, tied together by the life of the narrator. The first story, “Sensei and I” introduces us to the primary characters, the narrator and the Sensei, a man living a life in solitude, for reasons unknown. (The translator points out that English does not have an adequate word for “Sensei”, the closet being “teacher.”) The second returns the narrator to the home of his parents, where he questions his life and future in the light of his father’s mortality. The third story deals is the testament of the Sensei, describing the events leading to his chosen life of solitude.

This is quite simply, an outstanding book. It deals with questions of love, friendship, and responsibility. The plot is minimal, but the lives of the characters are rich. The Sensei’s reasoning for writing the account of his life provides, I believe, one of the primary purposes for Soseki’s novel-

…”I did not write this merely to pass the time away. My own past, which made me what I am, is a part of human experience. Only I can tell it. I do not think my effort to do so honestly has been entirely purposeless. If my story helps you and others to even understand a part of what we are, I shall be satisfied.”

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5 Responses to “Kokoro – “the heart of things””

  1. Stefanie Says:

    Sounds interesting and what a pretty cover too!

  2. w Says:

    I just ordered this on Amazon bc of you. Thanks much. And yes, that cover is gorgeous.

  3. Brad Says:

    Stefanie – I’m a sucker for nice cover work, as well as catchy titles.

    w – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  4. JCR Says:

    Have you read “Naomi” by Tanizaki?

  5. Brad Says:

    JCR- I’ve not read anything by Tanizaki. I recently purchased Some Prefer Nettles, which I plan to read sometime over the next month.


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