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 ...

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Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

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

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.
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.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231518314
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Series: Weatherhead Books on Asia
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 16 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

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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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Natsume Soseki and the Ten-Year Project 1

Part 1 Excerpts from Theory of Literature

Preface 39

Book 1 Classification of Literary Substance 51

Book 2 Quantitative Change in Literary Substance 75

Book 3 The Particular Character of Literary Substance 87

Book 4 Interrelations Between Literary Substances 96

Book 5 Group F 121

Part 2 Other Writings on Literary Theory, 1907-14

"Statement on Joining the Asahi" 155

"Philosophical Foundations of the Literary Arts" 159

"Preface" to Literary Criticism 214

"The Merits and Flaws of -isms" 239

"My Individualism" 242

Notes 265

Index 281

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