"The subject of Kokoro, which can be translated as 'the heart of things' or as 'feeling,' is the delicate matter of the contrast between the meanings the various parties of a relationship attach to it. In the course of this exploration, Soseki brilliantly describes different levels of friendship, family relationships, and the devices by which men attempt to escape from their fundamental loneliness. The novel sustains throughout its length something approaching poetry, and it is rich in understanding and insight. The translation, by Edwin McClellan, is extremely good." (Anthony West, The New Yorker)
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Not for me perhaps.
I think I'm glad I listened to it, but I don't think I would go back to it again. I found the narrator frustrating at times, mostly his pronunciation of 'okaasan' (oak'sun) which drove me mad. But I also found the narrative a little difficult to engage with - I found myself getting quite annoyed with these foolish young men and their poor decision-making. I think part of the point of the book is that loneliness can make one foolish, but they came across to me as rather self-important and not as sympathetic as perhaps the author wanted. I do wonder if I would have found it more engaging if I were male.
I've not experienced any of Natsume Soseki's writing before. The closest I've come (being the other early-mid 20th century Japanese writer I've experienced) would probably be reading Yukio Mishima's "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion", which I think has a similarly unsympathetic male character who doesn't deal with his problems in a particularly healthy way. Give me "The Tale of Genji" any day.
His Japanese pronunciation. He also didn't really distinguish vocally between different speakers. Most of the time this was OK (and far better than very forced different voices), but occasionally it meant I got a little confused about who was speaking during dialogue.
It has been adapted at least three times, according to Wikipedia. I can see it working on the screen, although I find it difficult to imagine it being anything other than an art house movie.