The year 2017 is the 150th memorial year since the birth of Soseki Natsume, one of the Japanese literary legends in the Meiji era.
Last year was also his another memorial year, the centennial of his death, so I have often seen corners featuring him at a lot of bookstores since last year.
Recently, I bought some of his well-known works on impulse, such as “Kokoro”, “Botchan”, “The Three-Cornered World”, “Sanshiro”, “And Then” and “The Gate”.
When I read these novels in my school days, I was not so much interested but had to read them for the purpose of classes and examinations. The expression is old-fashioned and not easy to read, so I found them rather boring.
However, when I read them after getting older, I sometimes noticed author’s messages between the lines or the way of thinking and customs of the Meiji era, which I missed in my school days reading. I now read these works with much of fun and surprised findings.
I have heard a Soseki’s episode when he worked as an English teacher. One of his students translated English sentence “I love you.” literally into Japanese. Then he said to this student; “It is not what Japanese would say. “Beautiful moon, isn’t it?” would be enough.”
What a circumbendibus expression! But at the same time, I feel something sentimental and graceful of the Meiji era. Additionally, Soseki had studied abroad, so that experience may have created such a romantic expression, I suppose.
This Golden Week holidays, I will have a relaxing time with reading Soseki’s books and thinking of the good era he lived.