Andrej's Reviews > Kokoro

Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki
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's review
Dec 17, 2008

liked it
Read in December, 2008

It's a fine exploration of character. The degree to which it delves into the character's thinking is a bit dizzying at times. At points there's nothing concrete, just pages of hesitation and thoughts. But I stuck with it, and I think it's worth it in the end. It helps that Kokoro is only about 200 pages; more and I would not recommend it.

Kokoro means "heart of things," and that's what Soseki tries to get at. It's a depressing story in the end, but it's clearly written (in the translation by McClellan at least). It portrays a great gentleness towards the characters, who could have been dealt with very unsympathetically.

Kokoro is a Japanese treasure, thought to be Soseki's best novel. It's a novel of the times in which he lived. The plot and progress of the characters are tied to the historical event of the Meiji emperor's death. I read it for the purposes of getting into that time period in preparation for a class next semester. You don't need to know anything about Japanese history to enjoy it, but a passing familiarity with Japanese culture would help the reader immensely.
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