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The Gate (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – December 4, 2012


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The Gate (New York Review Books Classics) + And Then (Tuttle Classics) + Sanshiro (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (December 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590175875
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590175873
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“I especially remember the strong sense of identification I  felt with The Gate, the story of a young married couple living in far-from-ideal circumstances.” —Haruki Murakami

“Released in 1910, The Gate is among top Japanese novelist Sōseki’s best-know works. A man suddenly abandons his loving wife to enter a life of contemplation in a Zen temple. He goes looking for answers but finds only more questions.” —Library Journal
 
“A sensitive, skillfully written novel by the most widely read Japanese author of modern times.” —The Guardian

"Soseki had a genius for sensitively depicting souls in torment.  The novel is about the marriage of Sosuke and Oyone….The Gate beautifully shows the way their relationship is suffused with both love and remorse, constantly reminding them of their pain while also acting to soothe it.... The Gate concludes with a poignant diminuendo, where Soseki takes leave of his couple with a scene of quiet and bittersweet domesticity. The sign of his greatness is that those last, longing notes sound as clearly now as when they were written." —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
 
“Sōseki’s prose is so delicate that each page is like looking at a set of dreamy watercolors.’ —Sunday Telegraph
 
The Gate is not so much tragic or comic as a graceful balance between the dispiriting and the humorous. It is surely the kind of writing we need. A masterpiece of taste and clarity.” —New Statesman
 
The Gate is almost devoid of dramatic incidents, but halting conversations of a quite ordinary husband and wife have a peculiar poignance because their love is the one abiding element in their lives. The descriptions of Sōseki’s house and its surroundings are as precise as in a Naturalist novel, and the atmosphere of almost featureless days is unfalteringly conveyed, but the novel never becomes boring, no doubt because of the excellence of the writing.” —Donald Keene

About the Author

Nastume Sōseki (1867–1916) was born the youngest of eight children during the last year of the Tokugawa shogunate in Edo, the city shortly to be renamed Tokyo, and became the defining writer of the Meiji period (1868–1912). Raised by foster parents until he was nine, he made a faltering start at school but soon displayed a special aptitude for Chinese studies and later for the English language, ultimately earning an advanced degree in English literature. As an
undergraduate at Tokyo Imperial University, he published an essay on Walt Whitman that introduced the poet’s work to Japan. After teaching for several years, Sōseki was sent in 1900 to England for two years by the Ministry of Education. Upon his return he succeeded Lafcadio Hearn in the English department at Tokyo Imperial University. Sōseki published his first work of fiction in 1905, the opening chapter of what would become the famous satirical novel I Am a Cat. In 1907, offered a position with the Asahi Newspaper publishing company, he left teaching to become a full-time writer, and proceeded to produce novels at the rate of one a year until his
death from a stomach ulcer in 1916. Other major works to have appeared in English translation include Botchan, Kusamakura, The Miner, and Kokoro.

William F. Sibley (1941–2009) was a professor of East Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago. A translator of Japanese fiction and nonfiction, Sibley was at work on Sōseki’s First Trilogy, comprising Sanshirō, And Then, and The Gate, at the time of his death.

Pico Iyer is the author of several books, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul, and, most recently, The Man Within My Head. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and Harper’s. He lives in Japan.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By B. Ackley on December 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Soseki's work "the Gate" ("Mon" in Japanese) is an amazing novel that explores the quiet drama unfolding in an older couple. The main character Sosuke has lead a quiet, humble life. he and his wife have lived a rather peaceful life but beneath the this simple domestic tranguility lies layers of conflict and doubt. There is no "action" so to speak but Sosuke does go on an introspective journey inside himself to come to terms with his life, his choices and the life he shares with his wife.

While their relationship and its challenges are at the core of this book it could also be argues that this book is also tells the story of Japanese society as traditions change and give way to new, modern (western) ideas.

While many may find his other works more exciting or engaging "the gate" is a layered story. It may seem pretentious to say this but I feel this is a story that has to be looked on many levels in order to fully be appreciated.

Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keith A. Comess VINE VOICE on August 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Ilya Ilyich Oblomov was lying in bed one morning...He was a man of about thirty-two or thirty-three, of medium height and pleasant appearance, with dark grey eyes, but with a total absence of any define idea, any concentration, in his features. Thoughts promenaded freely all over his face, fluttered about in his eyes, reposed on his half-parted lips, concealed themselves in the furrows of his brow and then vanished completely - and it was at such moments that an expression of serene unconcern spread all over his face." So begins Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov's 1859 novel "Oblamov", whose protagonist is overcome with inertia and afflicted with profound lassitude; he is an insignificant hero. "The Gate" might be Japan's analogue. Compare the opening lines: "Sosuke had been relaxing for some time on the veranda, legs comfortably crossed on a cushion he had set down in a warm, sunny spot". "The Gate" is written in a "quaint", warm, subtle, atmospheric and sympathetic style; "as delicate as a breath of a hummingbirds wing", one might say. It is an engrossing novel written in a unique and uniquely Japanese fahion, not to be confused with modern Japanese literature, to which it bears only a tangential relationship.

As a young man, Sosuke (the protagonist) frittered away his money, partially due to a spendthrift lifestyle during his student years but largely due to a somewhat credulous character. The remainder of his legacy vanished into the pockets of an uncle, thanks to the generally indifferent attitude Sosuke eventually adopted. As a result of his lassitude, Sosuke and his demure but sharp-eyed wife, Oyone are found muddling along in a mundane fashion hovering between a lower-middle and lower-class existence as the book begins.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nergesh Tejani on February 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nothing in the lives of the two main charectars Oyone and Sosuke is tackled directly. Everything is felt but allowed to wait and evolve slowly. Many momentous and sad things happen but they are let out like smoke rings and allowed to shape in the readers' mind or into nothingness. Through many disappointments the couple present to the world 'smiles under the the sun but under the moon they were lost in thought.' And as we the readers wander through the book there is clearly evident the one steel cable --the bond between the two.

I am a physician. There were two medical moments in the book that spawned cynicism--an unnamed but apparently life-threatening shoulder pain and the description of a stillbirth caused by two loops of the umbilical cord strangling the much awaited baby--with the implication that the attendant could have managed this if more expert. But perhaps these were not meant to be factual--just tools to shape the story.
I will think of and live with Onyone and Sosuke for a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sumie Jones on March 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Gate (Mon) is not one of the best known works by Natsume Soseki, Japan's most admired novelist. Reading this translation by William Sibley is discovering anew the greatness of the original work. Nothing remarkable happens in the story and yet, after reading a few pages of the book, you cannot put it down--or you may even read it twice in one sitting as I did. If you know Japanese, you may open the original book and sign over the translator's skill in reenacting Soseki's rhetorical style and conveying the interior of the modern man. Here is a translator who feels and writes like Soseki.

Anyone with strong interest in literature in any language would enjoy this novel by this translation. The book should also be useful for the classroom--as a sensitive and expressive study of the pain of modernity. (Sumie Jones)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
More slice of life from Soseki that captures real life in Japan. The filmmaker Ozu does the same in his movies about regular people living their unremarkable lives.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William A. Mcdonald on March 25, 2013
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A very excellent story. I would rate it with some of the best novels I have ever read. A definite 5 stars.
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