Comment: I'm a college student that has read plenty of classic American novels and when a teacher gave Kokoro to the class. I was kinda intrigued but the first 50 pages made me feel like i was wasting my life away and i convinced my friend to read me a couple pages so i wouldn't have to look at it. I read the book in four days and I'm ready to torch it because i could sell it back to the bookstore for $3 but I don't want anyone to suffer like i did.
Summary: DEEP & SOU RIVETING...not to mention an interest grabber.
Comment: This is an absolute classic in Japanese literature & full of truth and wisdom. This is a bible.
Summary: An Insightful Read
Comment: By using his experiences living in the late Meiji period of Japan, Natsume Soseki wrote an insightful novel entitled "Kokoro," which was translated in English language by Edwin McClellan. The book is broken into three sections, "Sensei and I," "My Parents and I," and "Sensei and His Testament." The first section reveals the first interaction between the Student and Sensei at the beach, their conversations, and the college graduation of the Student. The second section deals with the life of the Student's home in the countryside of Japan, his father's illness, and the receiving of Sensei's last letter. And the last part of the novel is a letter from Sensei to the Student in which he discusses his dark past and why he decided to meet his end. From reading "Kokoro," one can get an understanding of how modern social transformation influenced Japanese life.
To show as an example: when a person lives through two different eras, it can alter his feelings and his sense of living in the Japanese society. In a sense, the transformation can alter one's sense of identification with his country. In Kokoro, the character Sensei has a lack of identification with Japan in terms of where he fits in the society, which partly leads to his deep loneliness. Since the fall of Tokugawa Japan and the Samurai class, there may have been number of people who refused to change their ways or move on toward the new Japanese society, which was the Meiji era.
But, toward the end of the Meiji period, the new change called the "modern era" was approaching, which created an effect on people who were already born in the Meiji era. As a man filled with guilt, fear, and loneliness, Sensei felt that he should leave the world physically due to the fact that he had no place in the new modern Japan. One example in the novel which best explains loneliness as a result of the modern transformation is when Sensei expressed his insight to the Student: "loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves," which was a comment that made the Student stood speechless and kept silence (p. 30).
The novelist Natsume Soseki wrote an insightful work, with a clear read as translated by Mr. McClellan. With a humble opinion, this book is given as five stars and to be recommended.
Summary: subtle, disturbing examination of the heart
Comment: A young student befriends an older man in Tokyo. The older one's intellectual abilities, and his sophistication gains him the title of 'Sensei' - roughly approximating 'teacher' or 'master' - from the younger one.
Though he likes him well enough, Sensei does nothing to encourage the young man's growing attachment to him. This only increases the student's interest in Sensei's life, who responds finally to his overtures of friendship and respect thus: 'I do not want your admiration now, because I do not want your insults in the future. I bear with my loneliness now in order to avoid greater loneliness in the years ahead. You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves'.
The novel is structured in three parts. The first two are narrated by the student, and the third is a 'testament' in letter form by Sensei, outlining the story of his life, and explaining why he has for so long withdrawn from the outside world.
Sensei's testament is a profound self-examination and self-criticism, mostly revolving around his selfish and manipulative actions, in his own student days, when he and his friend (a fellow student) were both in love with the same girl (now Sensei's wife). This behaviour leads, in the end, to catastrophic results for his friend. From that period on, though Sensei has appeared outwardly normal and happy, his life has been completely blighted.
What makes the novel such a significant work for Western readers (other than its literary excellence) is the distinctly Japanese point of view it brings to an old story. This new perspective brings up a large number of worrying (because unanswerable) questions. How much, for instance, does Sensei's failure to forgive himself for his earlier mistakes arise from his culture's sense of 'honour', and how much from human nature?
Kokoro translates as 'the heart of things', a perfect title for a book that delicately, subtly and finally disturbingly, probes the mystery that is the core of human life.
Comment: this book is a classic in japan, how eer i think its kind of dull, I had to read this book for a history class, it gives a good perspective of japan during the 1900's.