Hailed by "The New Yorker "as "rich in understanding and insight," "Kokoro "— "the heart of things" — is the work of one of Japan's most popular authors. This thought-provoking trilogy of stories explores the very essence of loneliness and stands as a stirring introduction to modern Japanese literature.
No collection of Japanese literature is complete without Natsume Soseki's "Kokoro," his most famous novel and the last he complete before his death. Published here in the first new translation in more than fifty years, "Kokoro"—meaning "heart"-is the story of a subtle and poignant friendship between two unnamed characters, a young man and an enigmatic elder whom he calls "Sensei." Haunted by tragic secrets that have cast a long shadow over his life, Sensei slowly opens up to his young disciple, confessing indiscretions from his own student days that have left him reeling with guilt, and revealing, in the seemingly unbridgeable chasm between his moral anguish and his student's struggle to understand it, the profound cultural shift from one generation to the next that characterized Japan in the early twentieth century.
Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), one of Japan's most influential modern writers, is widely considered the foremost novelist of the Meiji era (1868-1914). Born Natsume Kinnosuke in Tokyo, he graduated from Tokyo University in 1893 and then taught high school English. He went to England on a Japanese government scholarship, and when he returned to Japan he lectured on English literature at Tokyo University and began his writing career with the novel Botchan. Numerous nervous disorders forced him to give up teaching in 1908, and he became a full-time writer. He wrote fourteen novels, including I Am A Cat and Kusamakura, as well as haiku, poems in the Chinese style, academic papers on literary theory, essays, autobiographical sketches, and fairy tales. His work enjoyed wide popularity in his lifetime and secured him a permanent place in Japanese literature. Meredith McKinney holds a PhD in medieval Japanese literature from the University in Canberra, where she teaches in the Japan Centre. She lived and taught in Japan for twenty years and now lives near Braidwood, New South Wales. Her other translations include Ravine and Other Stories, The Tale of Saigyo, and for Penguin Classics, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and Kusamakura.
"This elegant novel...suffuses the reader with a sense of old Japan." --Los Angeles Times "Soseki is the representative modern Japanese novelist, a figure of truly national stature." --Haruki Murakami
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