Kusamakuraby Natsume Soseki, Kazutomo Takahashi (Translator)
Kusamakura which literally translates into "grass pillow" is a common Japanese phrase used in poetry to signify a journey. Considering that Natsume Soseki's novel "Kusamakura" is the story of an artist who retreats to the mountains where he stays at a remote, almost deserted hotel, the title would seem apropos. While there the artist becomes intrigued by the hotel's
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Set in a remote seaside mountain village, Kusamakura ''grass pillow', an idom for travel', follows an artist of the Meiji period as he seeks artistic inspiration far from his city life. Despite isolated portions of beautiful prose and imagery, as well as a few haunting encounters with a mysterious and captivating woman, this novel ultimately disappoints because its unnamed narrator is a pompous, pretentious and condescending individual who is quick to label things vulgar and deals with people in what he proudly calls a 'nonemotional' way -- in other words, having no real, meaningful interactions with them. This is easy to overlook at times, but as the novel nears its conclusion it gets more and more aggravating. I'd try another of Soseki's works instead, especially if you've never read anything by him before.