Soseki Natsume was born in Tokyo in 1867, and upon graduating from the prestigious Tokyo University, worked as an English teacher for a time. He was sent to London for three years by the Japanese government in 1900 on the first English literary scholarship, where he developed a love for Shakespeare. Returning to take up a position at Tokyo University, he began his writing career with Botchan. This is one of his most famous works, along with I Am a Cat and Kokoro. Soseki enjoyed tremendous popularity before his death in 1916 and his works are always cited as among the best in Japanese literature.
When Japanese readers and critics are asked which authors they admire, Soseki's name frequently appears at the top of the list. He is also the only Japanese author referred to by his personal name (Soseki) and not his family name (Natsume), and his image appears on the Japanese 1000 yen note.
Dennis Washburn is Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Translating Mount Fuji: Modern Japanese Fiction and The Ethics of Identity and translator of Temple of the Wild Geese and Bamboo Dolls of Echizen.