Book: And Then


And Then

 

First things first, this is a really difficult read to get through. However, it’s really rewarding once you do get through all the lengthy exposition and philosophical arguments. I cannot say that I enjoyed the book, but I appreciate this style of writing from time to time. It’s a very in-depth character study of Daisuke, how he struggles at the turn of the century, even as Japan is modernizing.

There’s definitely a conflict between the traditional and the modern. And perhaps it is because he’s grown up in such an era that Daisuke has turned out the way he is. It’s a totally different culture and time period, but the insights gained from delving into the mind and motives of Daisuke are really enlightening. Add to that a well-rounded cast of characters and you get a story that is really slow paced but does move along. There’s a lot of tension and words unsaid. It feels severe, very reserved at times. These are aspects of Japanese culture that does take some getting used to. One needs to be able to read between lines as not everything is always said. Even their conversations between characters can be hard to follow, because of that.

Still, it’s understandable why Soseki Natsume is such a revered author. He’s captured a snapshot of the times and forever immortalized it in his books. Amazing.

There were a few portions of the book that really resonated with me, the one that left the most impact was towards the end, a conversation between Daisuke and Hiraoka. I”m going to give the story away with the quote, so if you don’t want to know what happens, just stop reading now!

“Do you have the right to love another man’s wife?”

“It can’t be helped. Legally, Michiyo-san belongs to you. But she’s a human being, not a thing, so no one can own her heart. No one, no matter who, can give orders about the direction or quantity of love. The rights of a husband don’t go that far. In fact, it’s a husband’s duty to keep his wife’s love from straying, isn’t it.?”

Thought-provoking stuff huh? I would read this book again, because I don’t think I gained everything that can be gained from the book just yet. It probably require a few more reads to really grasp everything.

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