Botchan: A Modern Classic

Overview

Like The Catcher in the Rye or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Botchan, a hilarious tale about a young man's rebellion against "the system" in a country school, is a classic of its kind. Among Japanese readers both young and old it has enjoyed a timeless popularity, making it, according to Donald Keene, "probably the most widely read novel in modern Japan."

The setting is Japan's deep south, where the author himself spent some time teaching English in a boys' school. Into ...

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Overview

Like The Catcher in the Rye or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Botchan, a hilarious tale about a young man's rebellion against "the system" in a country school, is a classic of its kind. Among Japanese readers both young and old it has enjoyed a timeless popularity, making it, according to Donald Keene, "probably the most widely read novel in modern Japan."

The setting is Japan's deep south, where the author himself spent some time teaching English in a boys' school. Into this conservative world, with its social proprieties and established pecking order, breezes Botchan, down from the big city, with scant respect for either his elders or his noisy young charges; and the result is a chain of collisions large and small.

Much of the story seems to occur in summer, against the drone of cicadas, and in many ways this is a summer book—light, funny, never slow-moving. Here, in a lively new translation much better suited to Western tastes than any of its forebears, Botchan's homespun appeal is all the more apparent, and even those who have never been near the sunlit island on which these calamitous episodes take place should find in it uninterrupted entertainment.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Published in 1906, this comic novel remains popular in Soseki's native Japan. A precursor to the rebellious school youth works popularized by Salinger and others, it follows a city teacher who relocates to a less-sophisticated rural area but has little use for the small-town elders or students. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784770021229
  • Publisher: Kodansha International
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Pages: 176
  • Lexile: 1100L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

NATSUME SOSEKI (1867-1916) is a major figure in modern Japanese literature, yet is known for his fierce independence from the literary establishment. No other writer of his generation wrote with more acerbic wit about the age he lived in. He is the author of numerous books, many that have been translated into English.

J. COHN is an Associate Professor of Japanese at The University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is the author of Studies in the Comic Spirit in Modern Japanese Fiction (Harvard University Asia Center, 1998).

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