By Natsume Soseki; Haruki Murakami (intr.)
Natsume Soseki's basically coming-of-age novel, Sanshiro depicts the eponymous twenty-three-year-old protagonist as he leaves the sleepy geographical region to wait a school within the consistently relocating "real international" of Tokyo. Baffled and fascinated with the site visitors, the teachers, and-most of all-the ladies, Sanshiro needs to locate his manner one of the sophisticates that fill his new existence. An incisive social and cultural observation, Sanshiro is additionally a refined portrait of past love, culture, and modernization, and the idealism of minor opposed to the cynicism of heart age.
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Additional info for Sanshiro
Sanshirō was written in 1908, and I went to Tokyo in 1968, exactly sixty years later. Travelling from Kobe to Tokyo at that time took fifteen or twenty hours on a steam train. For me, on the electrically powered Shinkansen, it took only four. Traveling from distant Kyushu to Tokyo, Sanshirō spent two nights on the road. In other words, we grew up in very different environments. The social standing of university students was different as well. Anyone entering a university in Sanshirō’s day was treated with respect, but it was nothing special in my day.
1905 (38) New Year’s issues of three magazines carry his work: the story “Wagahai wa neko de aru” (“I Am a Cat”), signed “Sōseki,” essays “Rondon-tō” (“The Tower of London”) and “Kārairu hakubutsukan” (“Carlyle Museum”), signed “Natsume Kinnosuke”. Soon begins using “Natsume Sōseki” regularly. Sequels of “I Am a Cat” continue through August 1906, humor rising from high jinks and wordplay to genuine satire, scathing critique of war fever, darkening portrait of mustachioed, heavy-smoking depressive scholar protagonist.
July: Sells or gives away all household goods, leaves Kumamoto, depositing Kyōko and Fudeko with Tokyo in-laws. 8 September: Boards German ship for Genoa, arriving 19 October. 21 October: Arrives in Paris by train. Visits Louvre, World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle). 28 October: Arrives in London without a clear purpose. Sees the sights. November: Visits Cambridge, but concludes that government stipend too low for study there. November/December: Attends a class at University College, London. Lives in a series of shabby rooming houses, mostly reading in his room, but contracts with Shakespeare scholar William James Craig (1843–1906) for weekly individual tutoring at 5 shillings per hour (an arrangement that would continue until October 1901).