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Kokoro

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  11,229 Ratings  ·  866 Reviews
Hailed by The New Yorker as "rich in understanding and insight," Kokoro — "the heart of things" — is the work of one of Japan's most popular authors. This thought-provoking trilogy of stories explores the very essence of loneliness and stands as a stirring introduction to modern Japanese literature.
Paperback, 248 pages
Published July 1st 1996 by Gateway Editions (first published 1914)
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Ramona Boldizsar I don't see much similarity if truth be told. Botchan (one of the author's earliest works), on the other hand, could be compared quite easily with…moreI don't see much similarity if truth be told. Botchan (one of the author's earliest works), on the other hand, could be compared quite easily with Catcher in the Rye. (less)

Community Reviews

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Samadrita
A languid, melancholic dream of a novel which pierces the heart of the reader with its quiet intensity.

Cautious in its narrative tread on the ground of contentious issues, delicate in its broaching of subjects like the indignity of death, sin and redemption, existentialist ennui, self-recrimination and misanthropy, 'Kokoro' is a masterful recounting of a tragedy which unfolds against the backdrop of the dying years of the Meiji era. As Emperor Meiji breathes his last taking along with him the an
...more
Marita
The Meiji period in Japan during the second half of the twentieth century ushered in major changes. After the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912, Japan would be irrevocably changed. This melancholic novel reflects various aspects of this change.

The unnamed protagonist, a university student, strikes up a friendship with someone he admires and refers to as ‘Sensei’ throughout the novel, which translates as ‘teacher’ or ‘master’. It is (let’s call him X for the purpose of this review) X who actively pu
...more
[P]
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A few years ago I had arranged to meet up with a girl I was loosely dating. I liked her a lot, but as she is a DJ, who works late nights, seeing each other was not easy. I had agreed to go to the club she was playing at that night and wait for her to finish, which would be something like 3am. As I didn’t want to spend the entire night stood at the side of the DJ booth waiting for her I asked my brother if he wanted to join me. I explained why I wanted to go out, I assured him that I would be fre ...more
Edward
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Introduction
About the Title
Acknowledgments
Suggestions for Further Reading


--Kokoro

Notes
Michael Finocchiaro
I have mentioned elsewhere that the later Soseki books tend to be darker and more melancholic not to say extremely pessimistic and Kokoro definitely fits this mold. I am NOT taking anything away from the gorgeous language and descriptions here nor the intimate conversations primarily by writing between the protagonist and his Sensei, but it is not something to read if you are down in the dumps. The narrative devices are original even for Soseki and his mastery of character and betrayal of emotio ...more
Camille Stein
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sōseki in 1912






El camino a la verdad es solitario, remoto, escondido.
Pero con un corazón limpio, por él recorro pasados y presentes.
¿Hay un yo en las aguas azuladas, en las azuladas colinas?
Todo es cielo, todo es tierra: artificio no hay en ellos.
En la luz mortecina del crepúsculo, la luna se aparta de la hierba;
y la voz sorda del viento de otoño se queda entre los árboles.
Olvidaré mis ojos y mis oídos; perderé el cuerpo.
Solo en el vacío entonaré de la nube el blanco cántico.


(Natsume Sōseki, 20 de noviembre de
...more
Mariel
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: when it dies
Recommended to Mariel by: when it lives
Kokoro translates to "the heart of things". I only know this because the translator's forward said it was so. I need a translator, from my heart's mind to yours (anyone?)... I am afraid that I will wander around in the dark mental spaces again. Gray shades of life experiences and emotional (not necessarily reality) experiences. Who could pick up on the undertones and relevances? I'm truly afraid that worse than making no sense, I'll be sitting at the feet (Muppet babies feet? Peanuts gang feet? ...more
RK-ique
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with many 'classic' Japanese novels, 'Kokoro' is a rumination on changing mores. Japan went through many culture shaking changes between the time in 1853 that U.S. Navy Commander and erstwhile 'diplomat' threatened Tokyo with bombardment if Japan did not enter into diplomatic discussions and the post-WWII period.

I found this book to be both fascinating and frustrating as it carries the reader over various times of change. Indeed, I often found myself to be quite upset at the characters as th
...more
Praj
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ns, にほん
"How can I escape,except through faith,madness or death?"

Kokoro is an epic melodrama of isolation and self-inflicted guilt. A beautiful heartfelt experience from the exploring friendship between a young graduate student and his mentor(Sensei).Soseki brilliantly unveils an intricate web of egoism,guilt,temptations and loneliness through various anecdotes on Sensei's reclusive living. No wonder Soseki succeeded Lafacdio Hearn as a lecturer in English Literature in the Imperial University(1903).
Carol
I aspire to compose a review. This book richly deserves it.
Hadrian
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
Reread, 4/29/2015.

I was reminded about this book by some of Kate Beaton's lovely comics (here, with some plot spoilers) and I thought to reread it again.

All humor aside, this book has stirring emotional set pieces which seem even more interesting and important on second reading.
Nancy Oakes
11/30/2016 - update: thanks to my love for foreign films, British comedy and other shows which for some reason we cannot get here, we have multi-region dvd capability & so I was able to watch the movie based on this novel. Scroll to the bottom of this post if at all interested in the film.*

Kokoro is,as I discovered, one of those novels where a second reading and a bit of research can completely change what you thought about it after the first time through. The second read was spurred by 1) d
...more
Kinga
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
My book club buddy made us all read it because he was dating a Japanese girl and wanted to learn more about her culture (I hope one day someone reads Prus for me, that would be real love). Anyway, they've been married for a while now, so that should give you an idea how behind I am with my reviews.

After all the melodrama of the Western literature, reading Kokoro was a refreshing experience of emotional restraint. It's an absolute classic, written in 1914, the end of Meiji era when Japan was goi
...more
Carol Rodríguez
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este ha sido mi estreno con Sōseki (gracias al Club Pickwick), y he salido muy contenta con la experiencia. Es un libro pausado en la narración pero que me ha resultado muy ágil a la hora de leerlo; típico libro de autor japonés en el que parece que no ocurre nada, pero sí que ocurre. No sé muy bien cómo explicarlo, y puede resultar hasta contradictorio, pero siempre tengo esta sensación con los libros que llegan de Japón.

Lo cierto es que me ha gustado mucho. Se separa en tres partes, muy difer
...more
Mahsa
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
اعتماد داشتن اتفاق قشنگ اما خطرناکیه؛ قشنگ چون با داشتنش آرامش خاطر هست، و خطرناک چون با یکبار از دست دادنض تمام سیستم اعتقادی یک آدم از هم میپاشه و میتونه باعث بشه اعتماد برای یک زندگی از دست بره و هرگز برنگرده. شاید بشه گفت اعتماد یکبار مصرف به حساب میاد؛ اگه یک بار خراب بشه، دیگه نمیشه ازش استفاده کرد.

این کتاب در اولین صفحاتش یک معما رو مطرح میکنه؛ معمای رفتار خاص و روش زندگی عجیب "سِنسی"، مردی که گذشتهش یک علامت سوال بزرگه و میل عجیبِ دونستن این گذشته در تمام صفحات کتاب مثل یک عطش دیوونهکنن
...more
Pau
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
4,5/5

*Insertar onomatopeya de sorpresa* Vaya libro. Vaya personajes. Vaya drama.
En serio, leer esto fue una delicia. Hacía tiempo que no disfrutaba tanto con el desarrollo de los personajes. Es que creo que es lo más destacable del libro, la caracterización de los personajes. Cómo se explican todas las razones sentimentales/emocionales que influyen cuando un personaje toma una decisión.

No es un libro fácil de resumir ya que está dividido en tres partes y cada una de ellas tiene un hilo conduct
...more
Declan
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very quiet book, one that whispers its way through the details of a friendship between two men but which brings us to an understanding of how the understated detail can be more intense and painful than one which is expressed loudly and with force. The level of restraint and discipline displayed are admirable in many ways, but they coexist with an a great deal of hypocrisy and an expectation of self-imposed subservience .

However the book was marred ,for me, from the beginning by the fa
...more
Anne
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
This novel, centered around the friendship of a young student and an elder "Sensei", deals with the transition from Japan's Meiji society to the modern era. The young student develops a strange fascination with the misanthrope Sensei and through vague conversations, and ultimately a tell-all epistle, discovers the truth behind the Sensei's ennui and malaise. The book moves slowly, and the reluctance of the characters to just say what they are thinking is a bit tedious, but it is well written and ...more
David
Apr 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
I was concerned that I was finding it a bit dull, and Sensei felt too dramatic and self-important to care what happens to him. He certainly isn't likeable, but his testament in the last chapter is enthralling and makes the book. It leaves us with a very strange ending.

"loneliness is the price we have to pay for being in the modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves"

"But what affected me most was his last sentence, which had perhaps been written as an afterthoug
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This is a sad, bitter book from the end of Soseki's career. Still powerful and gorgeous writing but heartbreaking in theme. I love Soseki's writing but would recommend this AFTER you have read Botchan and I am a Cat. And if you are not taking anti-depressants...
linhtalinhtinh
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-lit, like-a-lot
I am deeply drawn into the atmosphere in Kokoro. There is something so "Japanese" about the book that I could not describe. Quiet, slow, serene, beautiful and seemingly calm, yet somehow so strong, so unsettling, stirring my heart. I enjoyed this feeling, the deeply unsettled emotions.

The story flows and unfolds so very slowly, still somehow I found myself devouring every single word. The mere 250 pages seem to last a lot longer, as if I have experienced the deep, silent, cautiously guarded sadn
...more
PeggyCarter
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Creo que este libro va a tenerme asimilando su lectura unos días... ha terminado emocionándome, sentimientos a flor de piel.

Se trata de una obra de la literatura japonesa clásica, de lectura obligatoria en los colegios japoneses y mi primer acercamiento a este país en cuanto a literatura se refiere.
Con capítulos cortos y una pluma sublime, el autor expresa con palabras perfectamente los sentimientos humanos, las pasiones, la fragilidad del alma...
Todo gira entorno a temas tan humanos como la mue
...more
Ryan
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Modern Japanese writers have this knack of tugging at one’s heartstrings. They express deep and honest sentiments without too much fuss. Their honesty is their own subtlety. They can avoid sentimentalism by hiding under its veil and peeking from it from time to time. Sōseki is one such writer, and in Kokoro he has given us an anatomy of loneliness and mortality. The existential pain is muted, as if dampening the piercing cries of a melodrama, only to produce a howling silence.

The novel is divide
...more
Mag
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a classic revered among the Japanese. Even though it did not disappoint me in any way, I must say that I did not enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed books by Kawabata or Tanizaki. Not to mention Murakami, but he is a different era altogether.
Kokoro means heart in Japanese, and it stands for not only the physical heart but also for the metaphorical heart of the matter and the spiritual center of being. In the book, it can be taken to mean all of the above, and some aspects of it can even be
...more
Daniel Clausen
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
私はその人を常に先生と呼んでいた。だからここでもただ先生と書くだけで本名は打ち明けない。

This is the first line of Kokoro, a fantastic line that sets the stage for the story of the relationship between a young man and an older gentleman he refers to as Sensei.

"I usually call the person "sensei." And so, here I will just refer to him as "sensei" without revealing his true name."

Like much of Soseki's books, the tone is gentle with quite a bit of dialogue and not much of what Westerners would call action. Many of the book's themes are univer
...more
Ruba AlTurki
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
تقع الرواية في ثلاثة اجزاء ... وتتحدث عن علاقة طالب ب"المعلم" ، صدفة اللقاء وانجذاب هذا التلميذ للمعلم لسبب غامض لم يدركه هو نفسه، اكثر ما اعجبني بالرواية انها تتحدث بشخصية الطالب وعمره الساذجين ونظرته غير المكتملة للحياة والناس.
في الجزء الاول يتحدث عن المعلم وعنه وعن احاديثهما وحياتيهما<
ثم في الجزء الثاني ينتقل لوالده وحياته وعائلته في الريف.
ثم واخيرا رسالة المعلم.. حيث تتكشف كثير من الحقائق وكما هي كثير من الاعمال اليابانية تبدآ بهدوء وتتركك بهدوء خارجي ، لكنها تحدث فوضى داخلية عميقة.
الادب
...more
umberto
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, japan
I found reading Soseki's "Kokoro" interestingly enjoyable and impressive because at first I didn't think I'd reat it at all due to its plain title. I knew it's Japanese but it meant nothing to me, however, I read somewhere this novel is one of his outstanding works. So I thought reading it should be worth spending my free time.

"Kokoro" meaning "the heart of things" (p. vi) superbly translated by Edwin McClellan whom I've never read before is definitely one of Soseki's masterpieces since we reade
...more
AC
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the first two parts of this book compellingly brilliant -- and had decided that the book was an allegory. The narrator of Parts I-II, who speaks in the first person, is not the author (note the ages/dates), but an exemplum of Japanese Modernity -- where Sensei is an exemplum of the Meiji period. But by the end of Part III, this interpretation was untenable, and the sheer neurosis of the story had begun to weigh on me. Hence the 4-stars (instead of 5).

The Emperor Meiji died in 1912; this
...more
Josh
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
"I felt very strongly the sinfulness of man. It was this feeling that sent me to K's grave every month, that made me take care of my mother-in-law in her illness and behave gently towards my wife. It was this sense of sin that led me to feel sometimes that I would welcome a flogging even at the hands of strangers. When this desire for punishment became particularly strong, I would begin to feel that it should come from myself, and not others. Then I would think of death. Killing myself seemed a ...more
Jenna
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A story about human fallibility, the universality and inescapability of sin, and the relentlessness of guilt and self-punishment, told with tremendous elegance and many beautiful internal symmetries, as unputdownable as a whodunit, as psychologically penetrating as Henry James, and as simple and stark as a Greek tragedy. Kokoro also happens to be a work of cultural interest, one of the early modern Japanese novels and an elegy for a dying era in Japanese history, but, really, anyone who has ever ...more
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Japanese Literature: Discussion for Kokoro, by Natsume Sōseki 37 80 Dec 25, 2016 05:05AM  
End of book comments 1 19 Jan 02, 2016 06:54PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Kokoro 1 11 Dec 12, 2015 05:19PM  
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Armenian readers ...: Մայիսի գիրքը գտնենք ու քննարկենք 22 47 May 24, 2014 06:33AM  
Japanese Literature: Kokoro - February-March 2013 Read 29 149 Jul 28, 2013 10:28PM  
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