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Light and Darkness (1916)
Tekijä: Natsume Sōseki
Ei tämänhetkisiä Keskustelu-viestiketjuja tästä kirjasta.
This is the last, and unfinished, novel by the revered Japanese author Natsume Soseki. It was being serialized at the time of his death, and when I say it is unfinished, it is truly unfinished, and just stops abruptly.
The focus of the novel is a newly-wed couple. O-Nobu the wife is concerned with whether her husband Tsuda really loves her, although she has no evidence that he does not. She is a traditional Japanese wife of the era, and defers to her husband in everything. However, some members of Tsuda's family believe that she is really manipulating Tsuda to her bidding.
As for the plot: Tsuda has to undergo a minor surgical procedure which requires that he be hospitalized for a week. During this time O-Nobu agonizes over whether to attend the opera with friends of her parents who are insistent she come along. Tsuda asks O-nobu why she didn't turn down the invitation. She says she told them she couldn't go:
"'Do you mean to say they insisted you go even though you said you couldnt?'
"Yes, they did insist that I go even though I said I couldn't.'
"But if you said you couldn't how could they possibly have insisted that you should?'
"Are you or aren't you going?'
'It's entirely up to you. If you say I should go, I shall, but if you say I shouldn't I won't.'
'You're very obedient aren't you?'
'I'm always obedient...As for the Okamotos, they said that if when I asked you, and you said it was all right, they'd take me to the theatre. That is, of course, if your illness proved to be not too serious.'
'But you were the one who telephoned them, weren't you?'
'Yes, that's right. I'd promised that I would, of course, I'd already declined once, but they said that since, depending on your condition, I might be able to go, I was to let them know by noon of that day.'
'Well, come to the point. How do you feel about it? Do you or don't you want to go?'
'Well of course I want to go.'
'So you've finally confessed, have you? All right, then go ahead. '"
The novel is narrated in short chapters (sometimes breaking in the middle of a conversation), and the exchange above is about as riveting as it gets. Of course there is more going on in the novel--Tsuda has never lived within his means and his income has been supplemented by support from his father. His sister is jealous of this. Shortly before he went into the hospital, Tsuda's father cut off his support, and he frets about how they will get by. And about 2/3 of the way through we learn that prior to his marriage, Tsuda was in a relationship with another woman that was abruptly ended for unknown reasons. These, and other events, take place around pages of people trying to figure out what they should say to each other.
Most of the novel consists of the characters tiptoeing around how they should react to statements or actions by the other characters. While I understand that the Japanese have, or at least had, a rigid social code, this got to be too much for me.
I can't recommend this novel. I read Kokoro, and that is a much better book.
Viittaukset tähän teokseen muissa lähteissä.
Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)
Light and Dark, Natsume Soseki's longest novel and masterpiece, although unfinished, is a minutely observed study of haute-bourgeois manners on the eve of World War I. It is also a psychological portrait of a new marriage that achieves a depth and exactitude of character revelation that had no precedent in Japan at the time of its publication and has not been equaled since. With Light and Dark, Soseki invented the modern Japanese novel. Recovering in a clinic following surgery, thirty-year-old Tsuda Yoshio receives visits from a procession of intimates: his coquettish young wife, O-Nobu; his unsparing younger sister, O-Hide, who blames O-Nobu's extravagance for her brother's financial difficulties; his self-deprecating friend, Kobayashi, a ne'er-do-well and troublemaker who might have stepped from the pages of a Dostoevsky novel; and his employer's wife, Madam Yoshikawa, a conniving meddler with a connection to Tsuda that is unknown to the others. Divergent interests create friction among this closely interrelated cast of characters that explodes into scenes of jealousy, rancor, and recrimination that will astonish Western readers conditioned to expect Japanese reticence. Released from the clinic, Tsuda leaves Tokyo to continue his convalescence at a hot-springs resort. For reasons of her own, Madam Yoshikawa informs him that a woman who inhabits his dreams, Kiyoko, is staying alone at the same inn, recovering from a miscarriage. Dissuading O-Nobu from accompanying him, Tsuda travels to the spa, a lengthy journey fraught with real and symbolic obstacles that feels like a passage from one world to another. He encounters Kiyoko, who attempts to avoid him, but finally manages a meeting alone with her in her room. Soseki's final scene is a sublime exercise in indirection that leaves Tsuda to "explain the meaning of her smile."
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)895.6Literature Literature of other languages Asian (east and south east) languages Japanese
Kongressin kirjaston luokitus
Oletko sinä tämä henkilö?
I’m sorry to say that I really struggled to get from one end of this book to the other. I adored Natsume Soseki’s other books Kokoro and Grass on the Wayside. They were so lovely and brilliant. But he didn’t get a chance to edit this book and get it into shape, plus it sounds like he was sick and worried the whole time he was writing it. The afterword said that some critics consider this novel a “postmodern masterpiece” precisely because it is unfinished. But it wasn’t the lack of ending that did me in, it was the whole middle of the book, which dragged and was hard for me to focus on. I liked hearing from the point of view of Tsuda’s wife, O-Nobu, except that it went on and on without resolution. I also liked seeing all the period details of Japanese life, especially now that I’ve actually been to Japan.
Tsuda was a little bit like the main character in Grass on the Wayside in that he didn’t have very good social skills and tended to say things that made people feel bad without meaning to. The story really picked up at the end, when we finally learn Tsuda’s secret,