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Soseki plunged into this literary world as an outsider. Most writers did not regard his works as literature. Before starting a book, Soseki would read dictionaries to enrich his palette of colorful words so that he could describe sights and feelings with precise detail. Soseki himself said about Kusamakura that such a novel had never been seen before in history. Soseki became a popular writer with the publication of his first book, and he remains a favorite Japanese author. His books had a depth that was rooted in the cultural heritage of the past, from which most writers in his day detached themselves.
Modern writers had begun to deny the black-and-white Confucian ethics and the sensuality of Edo Tokyo , which Soseki had inherited in his nature. Yose was composed of two elements: Long, enrapturing songs chanted to the accompaniment of a samisen three-string Japanese guitar , often with drums and flutes added; and Confucian themes of right and wrong. Although Soseki had begun his life as an unwanted child, his father, Naokatsu, was the hereditary chief of a small town in Edo.
The position of chief, who had authority over the town administration and police, was in a special class which bridged the gap between the Samurai class and the tradesmen and artisans. His foster father, Shiobara Masanosuke, belonged to a high-ranking class of tradesmen and artisans.
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Soseki grew up exposed to the culture of both the Samurai and the tradesmen and artisans. He went to London in the fall of the last year of the nineteenth century, and watched as the funeral procession of Queen Victoria passed the corner of Hyde Park. His experience studying in London, when he was distracted with grief to the depth of his being, contributed to the novelty of his writing. He kept the sensibility and the ethics of the past, and at the same time tried to overcome the problems of modernity. For example, in Botchan, the hero Botchan embodies the sensibility and ethics of the past while, together with the teacher Yamaarashi, he is running full speed toward modern culture.
In Kojin The Wayfarer ; Soseki describes a professor who, hopelessly consumed with jealousy, doubts his brother and his wife and insults them without any sort of self-examination. In Kokoro Heart ; Soseki depicts a cowardly hero who betrays his friend and causes his death, then monopolizes his friend's lover. Other major themes in Soseki's works include ordinary people fighting against economic hardship, the conflict between duty and desire, loyalty and group mentality versus freedom and individuality, personal isolation and estrangement, the rapid industrialization of Japan and its social consequences, contempt of Japan's aping of Western culture, and a pessimistic view of human nature.
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Natsume Soseki. Gilt lettered navy cloth, glossary. An early second edition of this collection of fragments from the text called "The Book of the Golden Precepts" which outlines the two paths of spiritual enlightenment.
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