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.