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Kokoro Paperback – July 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"One of the honorable ancestors of a brilliant generation of novels." --Donald Barr, New York Times

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway Editions (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895267152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895267153
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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152 of 160 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Classic Western novels usually concentrate on plot and some action which delineates it, though there are many exceptions to the rule. Japanese novels, however, often focus on human feelings first of all, with plot taking a distant second place. Natsume Soseki's novels fit very well into this framework and KOKORO is a strong example. ['Kokoro' means "heart" or "feelings".] The book is divided into three parts. The first explores the relationship between the narrator and Sensei, a lonely intellectual who maintains few contacts with the world, but explains life to the innocent narrator, a student, who bears a passing relationship to Carlos Castaneda in "The Teachings of Don Juan" because he steadfastly fails "to get it". The second part portrays the relationship of the narrator to his parents, while the third and longest part is a testament by Sensei explaining to the young narrator why he became the type of man he is, i.e. he tells his life story. Though the relationships between narrator, Sensei, a young girl, and a fellow-student named only K are explored in depth, there is little of what might be termed plot. Despite there being a love triangle and two suicides, the author prefers to concentrate on the characters' thoughts instead of details of action. Soseki's skill is such that he fascinates the reader with the exploration of personality. There is no florid pyschoanalysis, no sex, no wall-banging despair and certain aspects are never explained---for example, why the narrator liked Sensei to begin with. Yet, by the end of the novel, the reader has a strong picture of the narrator, Sensei, and the unfortunate K.Read more ›
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Dajillo on October 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Most of us Japanese people read this novel called "Kokoro"(Kokoro means Heart.) when we are high school students in a japanese class. Our Japanese text books always include this Kokoro. So most of students read and study how our greatest writer was worried in those days. Add to it, this writer, Sohseki is one of the most greatest writer in Japan at the Meiji era. He turned from an English professor to a novelist. At the Meiji era, we japanese decided to accept European culture with changing our own unique life style. So the elite professor like Sohseki was very annoyed between European culture that suddenly come enter to our life and our traditional culture. Yes, most of Sohseki's works are "unfinished" as novel. Kokoro was't finished, either. We can call it this novel is very ambiguous, vague, obscure. Sohseki just presents us complicated, unfathomable, but delicate, deliberate, deep and serious themes in this novel. Presumably this Kokoro was unsuccessful work as novel, however, all sides of our life are not always completely "finished", are they? Sohseki's works are really our precious fortune.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
All of these are themes found in Japanese art, and all have a home in "Kokoro." Kokoro translates to heart or soul or spirit, and this book does justice to its title. Inside this slim volume is a testament of spirit, of youth and age, of man and woman, of ancient and modern juxtapositions of kokoro. What is love? What is friendship? What is responsibility?
The writing style is slow and delicate, with a precise economy of ideas and words. The translation is excellent, lending credible authenticity to the language. The Ideas, of course, need little interpretation as they are human in nature, and can be understood by all. Small cultural notes, such as the important suicide of General Nogi, are wisely footnoted and explained to deepen understanding of the narrative.
The simple story of Sensei, his wife, the young man and his family lay a basic framework upon which to weave the emotions that are the true focus.
Overall, while a book with an extremely Japanese flavor, it does transcend the barriers and gets at the inner life, the kokoro.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on July 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Kokoro ("the heart of the matter") is a great introduction to the japanese modern culture and it's effect on the transitional ("Meiji") generation. Japan lived in pleasant isolation until in 1857 it's eyes were opened to western imperialism. In order to protect itself and it's culture (having seen what was happening in China), the japanese Emporer Meiji ORDERED an industrial modernization of the country.

In one generation, the japanese went from a backwater feudal country to a world power (in 1905 they defeated both the Russian Army and Navy, the first Asian power to defeat a European nation in modern times). They built a modern navy based on the British model and an army based on the Prussian. They also totally revamped their education system, so that it emphasised science and mathematics.

The "Meiji" generation, was the one that stood in both cultures, they had been children of the old and adults in the new. They were much like the first generation of an immigrant familly, that still spoke their "native" language, but lived totally in the American culture.

Any sociologist will tell you that 'these' people are never really comfortable in either. They feel sad about 'deserting' their heritage; but also envy those who feel so at home in the new country. An immigrant child will always admit that they themselves fail to see how well they fit in; they only see where they are lacking. They also tend to be very self critical.

This book handles these problems in a very japanese way.
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