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Kokoro
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1001 book reviews > Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki

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Diane  | 2051 comments Rating: 5 Stars


This book completely caught me off-guard. A friend had highly recommended it to be so I went into it with high expectations. The first 20 pages were boring to me and I couldn't imagine how this could be the same book she described. I pressed on and it continually improved and became quite good. Then half-way through it became amazing. So, it starts slow but gradually and quietly builds in intensity.

This is the story of a young Japanese man who develops a friendship with his mysterious older mentor. Despite their growing bond of trust, the mentor is guarded and secretive about certain aspects of his life, which he later discloses to his young disciple in a letter. There are a lot of parallels here with old vs. modern Japan and the changes that occurred during Emperor Meiji's reign and in the wake of his death.

Overall, this book is beautifully written and descriptive, but it is also tear-inducing.


Gail (gailifer) | 1534 comments Rating 4 stars

I found the writing of the book to be quite beautiful and the dynamics of the family relations and the focus on an intimate friendship in the book to be very intensely portrayed. However, I ultimately was disappointed that the constrained egos of the primary characters could not see the world as a slightly larger place. What is disclosed in the letter is that our sensei only thinks about himself. He only ever thought about himself. I was less disturbed by the outcome because of this particular distancing. The tears were for those left behind.


Diane Zwang | 1314 comments Mod
Kokoro by Soseki (1914)
3/5 stars

Kokoro means “the heart of things”. Soseki is concerned with man's loneliness in the modern world.

This was a character study of Sensei mostly but also of his friend of the present and the friend of the past. I appreciate the story as being 'modern' for its time period; men talking about their feelings and internal struggles. I enjoyed the quietness of the story for parts one and two but part three was a bit long in Sensei recounting his past but I know it was necessary to bring the story full circle. For the most part I enjoyed the book but not as much as others.


Amanda Dawn | 1239 comments I'm in the same boat as the Diane above lol. I liked it fine, and understand it was a milestone in Japanese literature, but I wasn't exceptionally moved by it or incredibly foored by the sensei's story. I did think it had some good points about how self-imposed alienation can control and ruin our lives. I also gave it 3 stars.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4254 comments Mod
Japanese author Natsume Suseki, published 1914, Translation by Edwin McClellan. The translator talks about the translation before the story starts. I found this nice and wish more translators comment on their translations. The story starts with a friendship between a young man and an older man. The next part is a letter that the older man writes to the young man. The title means heart or the heart of things or feelings. A theme is isolation. It also looks at changes in Japan and changes in roles of women and generations. There is a exploration of loneliness, isolation, and suicide. I rated it 3.6 so kind of in the same camp and Amanda and Diane.


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