Chaos and Order in the Works of Natsume Sо̄seki

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ISBN-13: 9780824819811
Published: October 1998

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264 pages
  • About the Book
  • This is the first full-length study in English of Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), one of modern Japan's most revered writers. It is a critical examination of a split that runs deep in the discursive space of Soseki's writings as order (narrative control and form) grapples with the forces of chaos (existential loneliness and unfathomable fear). Displaying a profound appreciation for the key attributes and complex cultural significance of Soseki's work, Angela Yiu argues that, although Soseki by nature and temperament desired control and order, his writing betrays a dark, romantic voice that speaks of something cavernous and amorphous. Chaos and Order examines the way Soseki reinterprets existing literary forms and formulates a language to express the duality within him. To illustrate the tension between chaos and order in Soseki's creative process, Yiu analyzes six novels (Nowaki, Gubijinso, Kofu, Sorekara, Kojin, and Michikusa), a collection of literary essays (Garasudo no naka), a series of lectures and critical writings, and Soseki's Chinese poetry (kanshi). The problems of closure, the subversion of forms, critical and poetic languages, and narrative structures and personae are examined in each of the genres. By integrating Soseki's critical writing and lectures into a discussion of his fiction, this study provides startling syntheses and insights while portraying a distinct and individual artistic and intellectual consciousness-one that greatly influenced the development of modern Japanese fiction. The Introduction, which contains a survey of current Soseki studies in Japan, will be an especially valuable reference for students of Japanese literature.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Angela Yiu, Author

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