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Light and Darkness: Natsume Soseki's Meian [Kindle Edition]

Natsume Soseki , V.H. Viglielmo
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $20.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

This is the last novel written by Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), Japan's preeminent modern novelist (which was uncompleted at his death). Translated from the Japanese by V.H. Viglielmo. Susan Sontag called it a neglected masterpiece of the twentieth century.

Also contains a new Translator's Afterword

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation)

About the Author

Natsume Soseki: Translator V. H. Viglielmo:

Product Details

  • File Size: 791 KB
  • Print Length: 366 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1460982312
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00562PKUC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,642 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing psychological analysis and composition method January 6, 2001
This is the last and unfinished novel of his works. He died suddenly without finishing it.
It is the story of the wife, who suspects if her husband loves another woman, and him, who can't forget a past lover. Abandoning his composition style of the individual narrater so far, he represents the different world views from each viewpoint of all the characters. The world of the characters are revealed as the panorama from the point of view of the God. The composition method of each plots proceeding contemporarily is just the modern method of the novel, so I can remember that surprise as if the completion of the Japanese modern novel sprang up under my eyes, the first time I read this novel. The Japanese contemporary novel has already begun at 'Light and Darkness.'
This complicated composition method doesn't aim to lose the entertainment reading novels. Rather in reverse. It clarifies the various relationship among each people from their different viewpoints and digs out the psychology of each characters. It is psychological and historical at once. Each plots are the psychological analyses with the amazing insight and at the same time the preparation for the following ones.
Readers may pierce the Dostyevskian in this novel. However, and more, they will be surprised at the complicated psychological structure of Japanese women. I have thought even now that there are no analyses of the Japanese culture superior to it. It is why the woman keeps the depth of their own culture in many cases.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Light and Darkness: Natsume Soseki's Meian, a new translation by V. H. Viglielmo was published in 2011 (CreateSpace) -- so the recent reviews on this page must refer to Viglielmo's 1971 translation (Peter Owen). [Full Disclosure: I am the editor of Light and Darkness: Natsume Sōseki’s Meian]

Very few English translations of Japanese literature receive the kind of luxe treatment as that of John Nathan’s new translation of Meian (Light and Dark): it is in hardcover with attractive book jacket (incorporating Sōseki’s own psychedelic design for Kokoro), even a handsomely designed hardcover without the book jacket; deckle edge, (sometimes used in paperbacks, but when was the last time you saw it used in books on Japanese literature? Dawn to the West?); each of the 188 sections illustrated with an uma-heta drawing by Natori Shunsen, just as they appeared in the daily newspaper installments of the Asahi Shinbun in 1916); set in large, easy-to-read font, with a fine Introduction and A Note on the Translation, 421 pages.

Nathan could have used this opportunity to reformat the text from the short 188 sections into long chapters, but he wisely retained the 188 sections. Little is gained, for example, by reading Kokoro in 110 short chapters instead of in its familiar tripartite structure. Conversely, Meian, one imagines, would benefit little from reformatting into lengthy chapters. Nathan acknowledges: “The tyranny of the daily installment is perceptible in the text” (n6, page 16), referring to cliffhangers and recapitulations, but says editors were reluctant to modify the master’s manuscript.

That old chestnut about contrived cliffhangers and redundant recapitulation goes back to Donald Keene’s dreary assessment of the novel, which he confessed bored him from beginning to end.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Lotus of Truth Grows from the Muck of Daily Life April 26, 2001
No doubt some novels are much more difficult to translate than others, but the problem is usually that the translator must transform the scintillating language of the original into equally attractive language in the translation. Works like "The Master and Margarita" (Bulgakov) or "The Devil to Pay in the Backlands" (Guimaraes Rosa) come to mind. What to do, though, when the original consists of purposely vague and banal conversation for hundreds of pages ? This is the problem faced by translators of LIGHT AND DARKNESS, Natsume Soseki's last work. Soseki's concern with human psychology, the minutiae of daily life, and Buddhist philosophy create a novel that is structurally deep and subtle, but boring in form. Soseki focusses on contradictions in human nature---love vs. self-centeredness, honesty vs. falsity, egoism vs. selflessness, for some examples. His five main characters show varied combinations of positions on these continuums and the novel may have been meant to show their transformation towards more enlightened states. Their progress is slow, almost imperceptible. There is a soap opera-ish quality introduced by the fact that it was serialized in a newspaper in 1916 over 188 days. They engage in endless conversations of extreme mediocrity--the dialogue is nothing if not wooden in English, but I wonder if it could be more exciting in Japanese ? Perhaps it would only seem more natural.
Tsuda goes to the hospital for a minor operation. O-Nobu, his wife, visits him, visits her relatives and gets some extra money which the couple needs because they are rather extravagant. Kobayashi, a poor, unemployed former friend, visits Tsuda and advises him to change his attitudes, vaguely threatens to reveal his (not so colorful) past to O-Nobu.
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