Spring Miscellany: And London Essays

Spring Miscellany: And London Essays

Language: English

Pages: 180


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For the first time, English readers have access to Soseki’s Spring Miscellany. Originally published as Eijitu Shohin in serial form in the Asahi newspaper in 1909, before appearing in book form, Spring Miscellany is an pastiche of twenty-five sketches, referred to as shohin (little items), heir to the great zuihitsu tradition of discursive prose. These personal vignettes are clearly autobiographical and reveal Soseki’s kaleidoscopic view of his private world and his interest in authentic, unadorned self-expression.

The stories range from from episodes from his youth to his adult musings. Of special interest are the accounts of Soseki’s stay in England between 1900 and 1902, where he attended University College, studied privately with W. J. Craig, editor of the Arden Shakespeare, and immersed himself in studying eighteenth-century literature. It was not a happy time for Soseki--he described his stay as “like a poor dog that had wandered into the company of wolves”--but, as with all great writers, he managed to turn adversity into raw material for his art and to give us insight today into the life of an expatriate Japanese scholar at the turn of the century.

In his Introduction to the work, Sammy Tsunematsu, founder and curator of the Soseki Museum in London, provides a fresh perspective on Soseki as a man and a writer, as well as an insightful commentary on the work itself.

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she spoke to her father. I was completely unable to believe that their relations were normal. Such were the thoughts that filled my mind that night when I went to sleep. Next morning when I came down to breakfast, there was another person at the table beside the father and daughter who had been present the evening before. The newcomer was a man of about forty years of age with a bright complexion and a welcoming manner. When I entered the dining room and saw his face, I at last felt I was in the

to live in this capital city. I raised my head and looked at the immense sky which, partly obscured since I did not know whose reign, formed as it were, a long tight belt against the buildings rising to the right and left like cliffs. This "belt" had been mouse gray since the morning but was now gradually becoming speckled. The original color of the façades was ash gray, and the buildings, as if deeply disappointed by the feeble sunlight, had unrelentingly obstructed both sides. They had

come with me. I will show you around." He took me quickly through the dining room, the maid's room, the kitchen, etc. Mr Craig's flat is just a corner of the fourth floor and of course not roomy. After two to three minutes, we had inspected all the rooms. Mr Craig returned to the guest room and I was expecting a refusal, "Sir, the flat is too small. As you can see I have no room." Instead, he suddenly started to speak about Walt Whitman. "Whitman visited me a few years ago and stayed a while with

feeling like those of a child ill-treated by its stepmother has become constantly intensified, and in the end I closed the door which I had left ajar. I have shut myself away, and the yellowish shade of my face simply deepens. The two women have made it their daily task to verify the brightening of my complexion, which for them does duty as a barometer. I sometimes wonder what I have gained by submitting to their will in this manner: nothing but eating two boarders' share while wasting precious

moment the partition, hastily pushed by me, slammed open, I saw the lamp burning in the usual manner. My wife and the children were peacefully asleep. The stove was in the right place, just as it had been the evening before. Nothing that I had seen on retiring for the night had changed. Peace reigned everywhere in the house. It was filled with a warm atmosphere. The servant alone was weeping. On taking a closer look, I saw the servant clinging to the end of my wife's couch and heard her

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