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Turney, Alan James (1978) Soseki's Development as a Novelist Until 1907, With Special Reference to the Genesis, Nature and Position in His Work of "Kusa Makura". PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033930

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Abstract

Natsume Soseki was a student of both Chinese and English literature. From his study of the former he conceived a love for kanshi (Chinese poems) and from the latter a conviction that Oriental poetry was in general superior to its Occidental counterpart. His admiration for Oriental poetry was strengthened as a result of his study of haiku. He was also a-man who wished to be of service to his country. His love of poetry on the one hand and his concern with actual social problems on the other account for the two parallel lines which one can see in his early works. Of Soseki's three full-length works published before 1907, Wagahai wa Neko De Aru and Botchan are humorous social satire and constitute, with Nihyakutoka, one line, while Kusa Makura may be seen as the climax to the other, the poetic, line. While Kusa Makura has much in common with Soseki's shorter, poetic works, it is unique in that it is a full-length novel. In tone it is very like a haiku, while both in tone and in structure it resembles a kanshi. It combines discussion on literature and art with poetic descriptions and marks a confluence of Soseki's love of kanshi and haiku and his study of' English literature. It was in Kusa Makura that Soseki introduced the concept of hininjo (objectivity), which epitomized shaseibun (the kind of writing which stood in contrast to Naturalism and which gave Soseki his entree into the world of letters). In the essay-like passages of Kusa Makura Soseki expounds the principle of hininjo, while in his descriptions he attempts to put this principle into practice. Kusa Makura marks the end of a certain kind of writing, even though at the time Soseki did not reject the view of literature which it represents, for with Nowaki, his next full-length work, which was published in 1907, he moved away from the poetic and embarked upon a series of novels which dealt with egoism. However, Kusa Makura is by no means a dead end. In the sense that it was in Kusa Makura that the concept of hininjo was introduced and that hininjo was later developed into the idea of sokutenkyoshi (literally 'follow heaven and depart from the self') it may be said to presage that line of novels which was to deal with egoism and which began with Nowaki. In short, Kusa Makura occupies a crucial position in the works of Natsume Soseki.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033930
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:24
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/33930

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