Chaos and Order in the Works of Natsume Soseki

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University of Hawaii Press, 1998 - Literary Collections - 247 pages

This is the first full-length study in English of Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), one of modern Japan's most revered writers. It is a critical examination of a split that runs deep in the discursive space of Soseki's writings as order (narrative control and form) grapples with the forces of chaos (existential loneliness and unfathomable fear). Displaying a profound appreciation for the key attributes and complex cultural significance of Soseki's work, Angela Yiu argues that, although Soseki by nature and temperament desired control and order, his writing betrays a dark, romantic voice that speaks of something cavernous and amorphous. Chaos and Order examines the way Soseki reinterprets existing literary forms and formulates a language to express the duality within him. To illustrate the tension between chaos and order in Soseki's creative process, Yiu analyzes six novels (Nowaki, Gubijinso, Kofu, Sorekara, Kojin, and Michikusa), a collection of literary essays (Garasudo no naka), a series of lectures and critical writings, and Soseki's Chinese poetry (kanshi). The problems of closure, the subversion of forms, critical and poetic languages, and narrative structures and personae are examined in each of the genres. By integrating Soseki's critical writing and lectures into a discussion of his fiction, this study provides startling syntheses and insights while portraying a distinct and individual artistic and intellectual consciousness-one that greatly influenced the development of modern Japanese fiction. The Introduction, which contains a survey of current Soseki studies in Japan, will be an especially valuable reference for students of Japanese literature.

 

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Contents

Strong Closures in the Early Novels
13
A Parody of Forms Adventures in Narrative in Kōfu and Sorekara
42
The Critic the Teacher and the Writer
82
Space and Movement in Kōjin
118
From Garasudo no naka to Michikusa
156
In Quest of an Ending An Examination of Sōsekis Kanshi
182
Notes
197
Selected Bibliography
235
Index
243
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Page 1 - The Triumph of Life warns us that nothing, whether deed, word, thought or text, ever happens in relation, positive or negative, to anything that precedes, follows or exists elsewhere, but only as a random event whose power, like the power of death, is due to the randomness of its occurrence.
Page 1 - But mark how beautiful an order has sprung from the dust and blood of this fierce chaos! how the world, as from a resurrection, balancing itself on the golden wings of knowledge and of hope, has reassumed its yet unwearied flight into the heaven of time. Listen to the music, unheard by outward ears, which is as a ceaseless and invisible wind, nourishing its everlasting course with strength...

About the author (1998)

Angela Yiu is assistant professor of modern Japanese literature at Josai International University, Japan.

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