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Soseki: Modern Japan's Greatest Novelist (Asia Perspectives


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Table of Contents

1. Beginnings
2. School Days
3. Words
4. The Provinces
5. London
6. Home Again
7. I Am a Cat
8. Smaller Gems
9. The Thursday Salon
10. A Professional Novelist
11. Sanshiro
12. A Pair of Novels
13. Crisis at Shuzenji
14. A Death in the Family
15. Einsamkeit
16. Grass on the Wayside
17. The Final Year
Selected Bibliography

About the Author

John Nathan is Koichi Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Mishima: A Biography (1974) and Sony: The Private Life (1999), among other titles. He is the translator of Soseki's last novel, Light and Dark (Columbia, 2014), as well as works by Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe. Nathan is also an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker.


Nathan, a master translator and a gifted storyteller. . . . paints a portrait of this singular man based mostly on primary sources, accompanied by convincing textual analyses of the novelist's representative works. The result is an accessible account of a tortured, difficult, and yet ultimately irresistible soul that is touching even to those who are not yet familiar with the pleasures of Soseki's writing. -- Eri Hotta * Times Literary Supplement *
[Natsume Soseki's] life and work are explored insightfully in John Nathan's outstanding and cohesive literary biography. -- Eileen Battersby * Financial Times *
Comprehensive and discerning. . . . A revealing portrait of a writer who deserves a new audience. * Kirkus Reviews *
A compelling narrative of this complicated man....Recommended. * Choice *
Soseki captures the soul of Japan's greatest modern writer in the best tradition of biography. Here the venerated figure comes fully alive with his infuriating failings and astounding intelligence, his maddening ambitions and biting self-deprecations. The book also offers a vibrant portrayal of Japan's rapidly transforming society-an extraordinary feast. -- Minae Mizumura, author of Inheritance from Mother
A vivid portrait of Soseki's anxious and troubled life, of his violent mood swings, as well as of the chaos that constantly lurked just below the surface, ready to explode at any moment. -- Martin LaFlamme * Japan Times *
A vibrant portrayal of the transformation of a modern Japan as witnessed through the story of one of that country's best writers. * International Examiner *
A fine biographical work that also helpfully covers Soseki's major works in quite good depth, Soseki is a solid and interesting biography -- M.A. Orthofer * Complete Review *
Anyone with an interest in Japanese literature will enjoy the book. Not only is it a nice introduction to his work, but it also provides fascinating insights into a life cut short. As such, Soseki: Modern Japan's Greatest Novelist is a work to be recommended, an easy read about a great writer. * Tony's Reading List *
[An] illuminating biography. . . . Nathan's incisive portrait of Soseki as a troubled yet widely celebrated literary game changer-his image adorned the Y1,000 banknote in 1984-will likely drive new readers to his fiction. * Publishers Weekly *
All the varied accomplishments of this man who's often considered Japan's greatest writer, together with his many shortcomings, are put in perspective and context by literary scholar John Nathan. Soseki: Modern Japan's Greatest Novelist provides a literary biography of the finest sort: an engaging, reasonably paced narrative of Soseki 's life punctuated by just enough literary analysis to render the book intellectually important as well. -- Hans Rollman * PopMatters *
In John Nathan's excellent and very readable new biography, Soseki: Modern Japan's Greatest Novelist, the first English-language biography of the writer's life in fifty years, we are given a portrait of a complex, troubled individual who spent his career resisting black-and-white interpretations. -- Angela Qian * Cha: An Asian Literary Journal *
This biography and literary study describes a difficult, demanding man, plagued by poor physical and mental health, yet one who was also a master stylist with an extraordinary gift. * Times Higher Education *
Nathan offers a lucid view of the life and works of the writer many consider to be Japan's most important, and best, novelist. He deftly shows how Soseki's life reflects the many social and intellectual changes that occurred over the tumultuous decades of his lifetime-decades of Japan's transformation into a modern nation. -- Alan Tansman, University of California, Berkeley
It's been half a century since the appearance of the most recent English-language biography of Natsume Soseki, one of the giants of twentieth-century world literature, so the arrival of John Nathan's fine new study is cause for celebration. Soseki's life story often reads like one of his novels, and Nathan captures it in prose worthy of his subject. -- Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago
John Nathan has certainly shown in this biography why Soseki is such an important figure in Japanese literature, as well as demonstrating that he can hold his own with the best novelists the West have to offer. * Asian Review of Books *
John Nathan has given us a robust portrayal of Soseki's aesthetic practices and what they meant for his life and his work. His thoughtful readings, always grounded in his own aesthetic and emotional response and further honed through translation, provide an inspiring model for the Japanese literary criticism of the future. * Monumenta Nipponica *

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