Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings

Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings

by Natsume Soseki
     
 

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Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) was the foremost Japanese novelist of the twentieth century, known for such highly acclaimed works as Kokoro, Sanshiro, and I Am a Cat. Yet he began his career as a literary theorist and scholar of English literature. In 1907, he published Theory of Literature, a remarkably forward-thinking attempt to

Overview

Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) was the foremost Japanese novelist of the twentieth century, known for such highly acclaimed works as Kokoro, Sanshiro, and I Am a Cat. Yet he began his career as a literary theorist and scholar of English literature. In 1907, he published Theory of Literature, a remarkably forward-thinking attempt to understand how and why we read. The text anticipates by decades the ideas and concepts of formalism, structuralism, reader-response theory, and postcolonialism, as well as cognitive approaches to literature that are only now gaining traction.

Employing the cutting-edge approaches of contemporary psychology and sociology, Soseki created a model for studying the conscious experience of reading literature as well as a theory for how the process changes over time and across cultures. Along with Theory of Literature, this volume reproduces a later series of lectures and essays in which Soseki continued to develop his theories. By insisting that literary taste is socially and historically determined, Soseki was able to challenge the superiority of the Western canon, and by grounding his theory in scientific knowledge, he was able to claim a universal validity.

Editorial Reviews

Public Radio International's The World Books - Bill Marx
For fans of one of Japan's greatest novelists (Kokoro, Kusamakura) this volume of his literary criticism offers insights into his fiction as well as some prescient ideas about realism and multiculturalism.

Japanese Studies - Maria Flutsch
An impressive work of remarkable erudition matched by the precision and lucidity with which the complexity of Soseki's thought and of its context are presented.

Monumenta Nipponica - Angela Yu
Three cheers for bringing this Soseki to us!

Japan Times - Michael Hoffman
There are treasures to be mined in this book — insights into Soseki the man, Soseki the writer, Soseki the product of his time.

Public Radio International's The World Books
For fans of one of Japan's greatest novelists ( Kokoro, Kusamakura) this volume of his literary criticism offers insights into his fiction as well as some prescient ideas about realism and multiculturalism.

— Bill Marx

Japanese Studies
An impressive work of remarkable erudition matched by the precision and lucidity with which the complexity of Soseki's thought and of its context are presented.

— Maria Flutsch

Monumenta Nipponica
Three cheers for bringing this Soseki to us!

— Angela Yu

Journal of Asian Studies
A revelation.... The editors deftly explore Soseki's connection with major currents in Western literary theory, philosophy, and social and natural science.... An important and impressive contribution to the field of Japanese literary studies and to the ever-expanding domain of 'Sosekiana.'

Japan Times
There are treasures to be mined in this book — insights into Soseki the man, Soseki the writer, Soseki the product of his time.

— Michael Hoffman

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231518314
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
07/24/2012
Series:
Weatherhead Books on Asia
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
17 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are saying about this

Richard Calichman
A work of elegant and faithful translations of some of Natsume Soseki's major critical writings, together with an introduction of considerable erudition. Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings will go a long way toward correcting the excessively narrow view of Soseki long held by scholars of Japanese studies.

Thomas Lamarre
Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings is exemplary in its coverage and organization, and the translations and introductions achieve precisely what the editors hope to accomplish: allowing readers to grasp the significance of Natsume Soseki's criticism in its historical context and as a broader contribution to the human sciences.

Meet the Author

Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) was the foremost Japanese novelist of the Meiji Era, known for his books Kokoro, Botchan, and I Am a Cat.

Michael K. Bourdaghs is associate professor of modern Japanese literature at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Toson and Japanese Nationalism and the translation editor of Kamei Hideo's Transformations of Sensibility: The Phenomenology of Meiji Literature.

Atsuko Ueda is assistant professor of East Asian studies at Princeton University and the author, most recently, of Concealment of Politics, Politics of Concealment.

Joseph A. Murphy is associate professor of languages, literatures, and cultures at the University of Florida and author of The Metaphorical Circuit: Negotiating the Gap Between Literature and Science in Twentieth-Century Japan. His recent work concerns the cognitive basis of narrative comprehension and includes an article in the volume Cognition and Literature, forthcoming from Yale University Press.

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