Monday, December 28, 2009

Soseki without stomachache

Sanshiro is one of my beloved novels by Soseki Natsume. As I was transferring data into my new notebook computer, I had some time, and was reading an English translation of Sanshiro.

Haruki Murakami writes the preface. What Mr. Murakami says is quite interesting. I quote.


The protagonist of Sanshiro, however, is different. He, too, is unable to find his proper place amid dislocated circumstances, but he never fully confronts those circumstances as a problem within himself. Instead, he accepts them in a relatively natural way, with a young man's particular kind of nonchalant resignation, as something entirely external to himself. "Oh, well, that's how it goes," he seems to say. Stomach pain has not yet entered his world. I think that Sanshiro is a personal favorite of mime because it depicts this natural functioning of the young protagonist's psyche in an utterly mellifluous style. Sanshiro watches life sweeping him along the same way he looks at clouds sailing through the sky. The free movement of his gaze draws us in almost before we know it, and we forget to view him critically.

Haruki Murakami, Preface to Sanshiro, translated by Jay Rubin.


Here, Mr. Murakami's usage of the "stomachache" metaphor is interesting. It is well known that Soseki Natsume suffered from stomach conditions for most of his career, especially in the late years. It may well be that such physical circumstances influenced what Soseki wrote as a novelist in a profound way, affecting the world view and the manner in which the protagonist of the story moved around in the fictitious world.

In this context, Haruki Murakami himself might be regarded as "Soseki without stomachache".

Sanshiro. Translated by Jay Rubin.


Anonymous said...

I find this entry a bit ironic and refreshingly true. As many people go through their entire life without realizing that their external situation is a result of their internal beliefs and perceptions. Most people go through life accrediting their misfortunes and successes to other people and things, instead of realizing that the outcome was shaped by themselves. It seems ironic to me because Mr. Murakami had to write a book about it in order for us to see the truth that was always staring us in the face.

Junko said...

I have read "Sanshiro" several times. After reading,I find out new aspects of characters on every time.
An innocent,country boy was dismayed in the sophisticated world which was my first impression of the book.
With aged,I have appreciated to read one's inner self.

By the way, Today is warm as spring in Tokyo. Under the ground,sprouts may be waiting the New Year.
Thank you for your fascinating blog. Have a nice holiday season!

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

Soseki Natsume and Haruki Murakami!?
Unexpected but What a nice combination! And a famous translator Rubin sensei... This is a must.

Tokyo is warm. That's good. In this region, around Kanazawa city,very chilly today. We have to go to a hot spring with this book...

Yuzu said...

Sanshiro is my favorite character in novels by Soseki Natsume.
I realized why I was attracted Sanshiro.
But I also realized why I long to follow Sanshiro and Soseki since I met first.

me. said...

I've not read Sanshiro yet, but i think i'll track down a copy of this new edition.'..that's how it goes', reminds me of Vonnegut!.