Book: Kokoro


This review is going to be a little different. Why? Well, this book was adapted in the anime Aoi Bungaku, so after I figured that out, I thought it would be interesting to do a book and anime tie in. So do look for the review on the episodes from Aoi Bungaku in the next post.  In the mean time let’s talk about this book by Natsume Soseki.

Kokoro

I first picked up this book, because it was by a Japanese author and I’ve been wanting to read more Japanese books. I also (mistakenly) thought that this book had recently been adapted into a movie. So I started this book at the beginning of the new year. Having read it, I can barely put my thoughts into words.

The story about sensei and the protagonist unfolds slowly and deliberately. From the time that they met until the point when Sensei divulges his secrets to the protagonist. It’s very Japanese. The pace is slow, many words and actions have more meaning behind it, it’s deliberate, everything is well planned, well thought out and their just a wealth of information hiding behind the scenes. There’s the feeling of mystery and intrigue and to a large extent there is portrayal of how times are changing. This is especially so in the middle section of the book when the protagonist goes home.

I have to say that it’s a book that feels very timeless. Why? It straddles two generations. In fact in focuses on two individuals who were anomalies in their generations. It gives us a view of what the traditional and conservative is in each era and yet the characters are made to be so interesting and so different. Standouts in the mass of faces that make up the generation. Add to that the story and secrets of Sensei and it becomes a truly captivating read.

My only gripe was that I watched the anime before I read the book. And about halfway through the book I made the connection between the book and the anime adaptation. So I knew what was going to happen and I think that really spoils some of the fun. It’s not so much that the story unfolds unexpectedly, many hints are dropped throughout the book that points at what the secret that Sensei keeps is. Still, knowing the secret in its completeness is different from guessing at the secret. So yes, I feel a little cheated.

Other than that, I think it’s a beautiful book. And it’s books like these, that bring across it’s very Japanese nature that makes me wish I learnt Japanese so that I can read it in its original language.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Book: Kokoro”
  1. I have a Japanese copy of this work collecting dust at home. So far, I’ve read I Am a Cat, a selection of his Ten Nights of Dreams, and Botchan by Soseki and started to translate Within My Glass Doors. I absolutely love his cynical sense of humor and the variety of his characters. Kokoro is supposed to be his masterpiece. Thanks for reminding me of my need to read it.

    Japanese isn’t too hard compared to certain languages. The main problem with Soseki is that he uses characters outside of the 1,945 essential Kanji, which makes him difficult for me to read at times. So, you should give it a shot. Rumiko Takahashi’s Inuyasha is very easy to read in the original language if you want to know a good place to start.

    • everworld says:

      Wow! I hope to get around to reading more of his works. The only problem for me in reading Japanese is probably not so much the kanji since most of the time it has the same meaning in Mandarin, but I haven’t even grasped the basics of hiragana or katakana.

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