Kokoro

Kokoro

by Natsume Soseki, Meredith McKinney
4.3 12

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Overview

Kokoro by Natsume Soseki

The great Japanese author’s most famous novel, in its first new English translation in half a century
 
No collection of Japanese literature is complete without Natsume Soseki's Kokoro, his most famous novel and the last he completed before his death. Published here in the first new translation in more than fifty years, Kokoro—meaning "heart"—is the story of a subtle and poignant friendship between two unnamed characters, a young man and an enigmatic elder whom he calls "Sensei." Haunted by tragic secrets that have cast a long shadow over his life, Sensei slowly opens up to his young disciple, confessing indiscretions from his own student days that have left him reeling with guilt, and revealing, in the seemingly unbridgeable chasm between his moral anguish and his student's struggle to understand it, the profound cultural shift from one generation to the next that characterized Japan in the early twentieth century.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101195819
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/23/2010
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 507,145
File size: 448 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), one of Japan's most influential modern writers, is widely considered the foremost novelist of the Meiji era (1868-1914) and a master of psychological fiction. As well as his works of fiction, his essays, haiku, and kanshi have been influential and are popular even today. 
 
Meredith McKinney (translator) holds a PhD in medieval Japanese literature from the University in Canberra, where she teaches in the Japan Centre. She lived and taught in Japan for twenty years and now lives near Braidwood, New South Wales. Her other translations include Ravine and Other Stories, The Tale of Saigyo, and for Penguin Classics, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, and Kusamakura.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Kokoro 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Quinton.W More than 1 year ago
What is the true nature of human beings? Kokuro, by Natsume Soseki, explores the answer to this question. ¿Give a gentlemen money, and he will soon turn into a rouge.¿ ;( Soseki, 64) this is the opinion of a man known as Sensei, who lives in the Meiji era doing nothing with his life. The narrator of this book is a young man determined to learn about sensei¿s past. I recommend this book because it is an engaging story with realistic characters.
One of Kokuro¿s strengths is that it has realistic characters. A character in the book, after being betrayed by someone close to them, develops trust issues. `I had come to distrust people¿.¿ (Soseki, 150) Characters in the book react realistically to things in the story. This is a believable narrative. Some reactions may surprise you, but they are not without merit.
Another of Kokuro¿s strengths is that its story draws the reader in. The pursuit of Sensei¿s past stabs at the narrator and the reader until Sensei¿s secrets are finally revealed. Sensei even hints at one point that his past is so dramatic that `It will be with me I suppose, until I die¿. (Soseki, 66)
Some may argue that Kokuro doesn¿t give enough closure once you reach the final page. The ending of this book may leave many asking questions. Natsume Soseki leaves the narrative open for every reader to interpret their own way. No two people who read this book will have the exact same view of the ending. This is good as it can lead to open ended discussion of the book befitting a true classic.
Kokuro is an engaging tale of mystery, death, and human nature. This book has withstood the test of time and will continue to do so for many years to come. I recommend this fine piece of literature to anyone who comes across it. This story of a broken man in the midst of the Meiji era is true literary gold.
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Jameisha More than 1 year ago
Jameisha Darnell
Humanities/10a
October 21, 2008
Kokoro Book Review
In Natsume Soseki¿s Kokoro, Sensei, one of the challenged characters that struggles with trust issues, befriends the narrator. In this story, the author describes the untold story of Sensei¿s past in the narrator¿s point of view. This story took place in the years following the Meiji Restoration. I would not recommend this book to readers because the plot goes up and down through the whole story and the narrator changes from one character to another.
One weakness for Kokoro is the plot. The plot in this story is unorganized because it goes up and down through the whole story and it states unnecessary things. For example when Sensei was coming back home from college and he found out his uncle moved into the house he inherited from his mother and father who passed away. ¿When I went home the following summer, my uncle had already moved into our house with his family, and was now its new master. This has been arranged between us before I left for Tokyo. So as long as I was not going to be in the house all the time, some such arrangement was necessary¿(Soseki 133). This quote is a plain example of unnecessary things because this quote has nothing to do with the plot and it is unnecessary for the reader to read it.
Although the plot is a weakness, the writing style is also weak because the narrator switches from one story to another without using transitions. For example, when the chapters changed from the narrator to Sensei, I was confused as to who was talking and what I was reading.
Some may say, that you should read Kokoro, because it¿s good to read different writing styles. However, if you don¿t understand the writing, then it is a waste of time reading the book. For example, in the book when Natsume Soseki split the story into three different parts, she wasn¿t clear as to who was talking or what was going on.
To conclude, I still would not recommend this book because of the plot and the writing style of the author, Natume Soseki.
KingRaven64 More than 1 year ago
¿Sensei died keeping his secret from her. Before he could destroy himself¿(Natsume Soseki 25). first started off in a resort with the two main charters sensei and the narrator boy. They both returned to Tokyo, Japan. From there narrator and sensei became real good friends, and shared a relationship. Sensei had a past best friend and his name was K. So long K did a suicide and so long Sensei committed one also. Next, Sensei writes the narrator boy a letter about his life. It was good for Sensei to reveal his hidden past to someone. I recommend this novel to thinkers or those who want to be challenged readers. And who loves to find out mystery and clues, or solve a friendship conflict this novel is for you.

Overall the narrator boy has been though a lot being Sensei friend. ¿I had been hurt and sometimes he seemed not to know. But no matter how often I experienced such trifling disappointments. I never felt any desire to part from sensei¿ (Natsume 8.) The narrator boy shows how deeply he love to be a part of him and around Sensei. This quote shows the strong friendship the narrator has for Sensei. And how much he really wanted to know Sensei past and what¿s so confusing in his past.

Another one is mystery plus clues ¿Sensei died keeping his secret from her. Before he could destroy his wife¿s happiness he destroyed himself.¿(Natsume soseki 25.) sensei told his story before he suicide his self. He wrote a whole book letter to the narrator on his past. And it was never told to his wife. These quote brings you mystery and clues. Mystery on who killed Sensei? Or did her murder himself? And a clue could be ¿destroyed himself¿ that tells you Sensei could have murder himself.

One counter argument could be the book is boring and too challenging. Well it is best to read with interest. And keep a dictionary for words in the passage you do not understand. The novel Kokoro is for readers who would like to be challenged. In a mystery and clues way. So, I recommend this novel Kokoro to you who loves mystery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although 'Kokoro' was written during the Meiji Period in Japan by Natsume Soseki, 'Kokoro' still manages to have a timeless quality about it, and people, from many generations from now, will still adore the book. It is a cerebral, philosophical, and melancholy book. One quote from the book sums up what I think the author meant to convey overall, and that quote is 'who are we to judge the needs of another man's heart?'
anthony23 More than 1 year ago
Anthony Davis
Humanities/10B
October 20, 2008

Book Review

The book Kokoro is a historical novel by Natsume Soseki. The narrator tells the story about how he has a good relationship with someone he calls Sensei. The majority of the book takes place in Tokyo, Japan during the Meiji Era. It explains why the narrator wants to uncover the mystery of Sensei¿s past. I don¿t recommend this book to people who like fast-paced books, but this book would be enjoyed by those who like relationships.
One weakness of Kokoro is that it is a slow-paced book. It takes a long time for the reader to reach the climax. The book has no action until Sensei writes the letter which is in the beginning of part 3. Sensei writes the letter to the narrator telling him about his past. ¿But that is not the only reason why I wanted to write this, you see, apart from any sense of obligation, there is the simple reason that I want to write about my past¿(Soseki 128). The reader has to read 124 pages until the book gets exciting.
One strength of Kokoro is the relationship between the characters. The narrator has a good relationship with Sensei and they do things together. They go to visit each other, take walks with each other, and write letters to each other. The characters get a strong bond. The reader can connect with them. An example of this bond is when the narrator was tracking down Sensei to talk and meet him for the first time. ¿Would it be all right if I visited you at your home now and then?¿ And he had answered quite simply, `yes of course.¿ I had been under the impression that we were intimate friends¿ (Soseki 7)
Some may say Kokoro is good because of the way it is written. All the events are sequenced in a way that each event is leading to the next event that¿s going to occur. However, the events aren¿t exciting until the end of the book.
In conclusion, I wouldn¿t recommend this because of the flat plot and its slow-paced ways. However, it is exciting in the end of the book because everything starts to come together.