The Heredity of Taste [NOOK Book]

Overview

Written in eight days, in December 1905, and published in the January 1906 issue of the magazine Teikoku Bungaku (Imperial Literature), Shumi no iden (The Heredity of Taste) is Soseki Natsume's only anti-war work. Chronicling the mourning process of a narrator haunted by his friend's death, the story reveals Soseki's attitude to the atrocity of war, specifically to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, and to the personal tragedies and loss of ...
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The Heredity of Taste

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Overview

Written in eight days, in December 1905, and published in the January 1906 issue of the magazine Teikoku Bungaku (Imperial Literature), Shumi no iden (The Heredity of Taste) is Soseki Natsume's only anti-war work. Chronicling the mourning process of a narrator haunted by his friend's death, the story reveals Soseki's attitude to the atrocity of war, specifically to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, and to the personal tragedies and loss of individuality of young men like his hero Ko-san, and the sacrifices made by both the living and the dead.

Although the first part of the story powerfully describes the narrator's visions of the war dead, including the recurring vision of Ko-san who cannot climb out of a ditch and return from the war, it is the second half, in which a beautiful and mysterious woman appears before the narrator at Ko-san's grave, with the promise of transcendence, that grips our attention.

The story centers on finding out the identity of this woman and her relationship with Ko-san, with it's implication that what should have been a love story has been shattered by the reality of war-a reminder of the magnitude of Japan's sacrifice for it's so-called victory.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781462904747
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/15/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 112
  • File size: 2 MB

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2006

    Sadness About The Loss Of Life & Individuality.

    This book is not as intense as Natsume's book, 'Kokoro', which I read before this one, but it is a good insight into Natsume's opinion about war. The lack of intensity may be because he wrote this book in only eight days, and it is a short composition. However, Natsume does convey the sadness of the loss of life and the loss of individuality unequivocably within this book. The narrator has lost his friend, Ko-san, in a war, and his heart-sickness is conveyed emphatically by his repetition of variations of one sentence, '...Ko-san jumped into his trench, he has never come out again.' He even ends the book with that sentence among his last paragraph. Also, Natsume laments the whole idea of war when he states, 'War, when it does not kill people, ages them.' Beyond the narrator's grieving of the death of his young friend, Ko-san, the narrator despairs the loss of individuality that war brings about. He stated, '...facing the shells that spat out of the guns and roared through the air, even the greatest of men like Ko-san was no longer apparent. He became as insignificant as a grain of soya in a straw bag.' Although the narrator knows that his friend died due to the war, he bemoans 'Ah, Ko-san! Where are you?' It is sad. The narrator is mournful for the mother of Ko-san, too, as Ko-san was her only child and never had the opportunity to marry his love interest, detailed in the latter half of the book, before he went off to war for Japan. Lastly, Natsume uses 'Macbeth' to help illuminate his ideas at around the middle of the book, and this is probably from Natsume's time in England, where he studied great English authors of the time. Although this book is not as intense as Natsume's book, 'Kokoro', it, nevertheless, is an interesting read to get to know Soseki Natsume, and war does produce 'many deceased names.'

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