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213 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1910
Realizing that both this Sunday and the fine weather that had accompanied it had drawn to a close, a certain mood came over him: a sense that such things did not last for long, and that this was a great pity.
He was someone destined neither to pass through the gate nor to be satisfied with never having passed through it. He was one of those unfortunate souls fated to stand in the gate's shadow, frozen in his tracks, until the day was done.
They were like two droplets of oil on the surface of a large basinful of water. They had joined not through having repelled the surrounding water but rather through having been propelled by water into converging courses that brought them together in a single sphere.There was no rushing to the end though the novel is relatively short. The Goodreads summary says At the end of his life, Natsume Sōseki declared The Gate, originally published in 1910, to be his favorite among all his novels. I might not have been interested in even trying this had I not previously read his more well known Kokoro. Both of these I'd appreciated more than loved, at 4-stars each.
"He had closed his eyes to [the New Year's] approach until it was almost upon him, since for people like himself, it could hold out little new hope. All the same, the festive mood of the season was catching, and he could not help feeling some of the excitement himself."
It was apparent that the telling of such anecdotes was [the monk] Gido's way of trying to fortify Sosuke against renouncing all further pursuit of this path [Zen] as soon as he was back in Tokyo. He heard the monk out respectfully, but inwardly felt that this great opportunity had already more or less slipped away from him. He had come here expecting the gate to be opened for him. But when he knocked, the gatekeeper, wherever he stood behind the high portals, had not so much as shown his face. Only a disembodied voice could be heard: "It does no good to knock. Open the gate for yourself and enter."Why Sosuke felt his life was unraveling was because of a choice he had made earlier in his life which adversely affected a friend of his. When the friend makes his appearance in Tokyo, Sosuke experiences a massive moral cowardice:
But he was left with an ill-defined presentiment that from now on he would have to experience anxious times like this over and over again, to some degree or another. It was destiny's role to enforce this repetition; it was Sosuke's lot to dodge the consequences.Natsume Soseki has the reputation of being a protoypical Japanese writer. Even though he died in 1916, he is still revered today by popular writers today such as Haruki Murakami. Far from abandoning this book, I have decided to read more of this excellent author's work and to try to pick up on his nuanced hint earlier than I did with The Gate.