on…’The Tower of London and Other Stories’ by Natsume Soseki

Posted: 22/03/2011 in Literature, Review
Tags: ,


A Japanese perspective on the familiar

I came across this book after having read a diverse range of Japanese fiction previously, I am also interested in the mysterious areas of London so this seemed like a good choice.
From the small extracts scattered through these pages I find it strange that Soseki is virtually unknown in the West. Obviously there will be some elements lost in translation but its not difficult to see why he is so highly regarded in Japan.
Soseki spent two years in London studying English Literature, this book is a compendium of various writing and letters he completed during and after his stay. Lack of social contact and his obvious alienation in a land unused to the Japanese led to some wonderful work. Seeing turn of the century London through the eyes of such a gifted writer is compelling and rewarding in equal measure. The descriptions are infused with a deep fascination for history, I cannot remember reading something which captures space and time in such a unique way.  The part about the various characters from History who ‘inhabit’ the Tower of London is particularly vivid. This section is the show piece of the book as it gives an unusual perspective on monarchs we get bored with at school. When I say unusual I am saying that the viewpoint is uniquely foreign and is based on entirely different cultural traditions to our own.
I look forward to reading some fiction from Soseki and hopefully we will be able to find him on more bookshop shelves in England.

  1. How does this fit in with other Soseki books?

    What’s Soseki-esque about it?


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