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From Amazon : A humble clerk and his loving wife scrape out a quiet existence on the margins of late-Meiji Tokyo. Resigned, following years of exile and misfortune, to the bitter consequences of having married without their families' consent, and unable to have children of their own, Sosuke and Oyone find the delicate equilibrium of their household upset by a new obligation to meet the educational expenses of Sosuke's brash younger brother. While an unlikely new friendship appears to offer a way out of this bind, it also soon threatens to dredge up a past that could once again force them to flee the capital. Desperate and torn, Sosuke finally resolves to travel to a remote Zen mountain monastery to see if perhaps there, through meditation, he can find a way out of his predicament.

This moving and deceptively simple story, a melancholy tale shot through with glimmers of joy, beauty, and gentle wit, is an understated masterpiece by the first great writer of modern Japan. At the end of his life, Natsume Soseki declared The Gate, originally published in 1910, to be his favourite among all his novels. This new translation at last captures the original's oblique grace and also corrects numerous errors and omissions that marred the first English version.


Quiet, gentle and easy to read I found that I wanted to strangle Sosuke in the early parts of the book because of his lack of motivation and seeming spinelessness but the middle to end of the book explains why. 


Recommended, easy to read and of a slow pace it's just what's needed during Covid lockdown

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    • By tagesmann
      Translated with an introduction by Edwin McClellan.
      Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) is a novelist of the Meiji period (1868-1912) and remains one of the most widely read authors in Japan.
      Kokoro can be translated as "the heart of things" or as "feeling." It was written in 1914, two years after the death of the Emperor Meiji, and two years before the author's death. The translator tells us that the style of writing is intentionally simple and the translation manages to retain that simplicity.
      The novel is concerned with man's loneliness in a modern world. Perhaps. It is about a love that both key characters can't express either because of their reserve or fear of ridicule. It is very cleverly done. The narrator describes his relationship with the man he calls "sensei" which is fairly straightforward but also involving. And then later in a long letter to the narrator, sensei writes of his background and this is the affecting part of the book.
      I can't imagine this book being written by a western author in 1914. It is so expressive in exploring the characters in a way that western literature didn't begin to explore for another ten to twenty years. I  can understand why the author is still so widely read. Apart from a few anachronisms and the authors view of woman, this book  could have been written this year.
      If you have the opportunity to read this I don't think you will be disappointed.
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