Light and Dark: A Novel

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Columbia University Press, Dec 3, 2013 - Fiction - 464 pages
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Published in 1917, Light and Dark is unlike any of Natsume Soseki’s previous works and unique in Japanese fiction of the period. What distinguishes the novel as “modern” is its remarkable representation of interiority. The protagonists, Tsuda Yoshio, thirty, and his wife O-Nobu, twenty-three, exhibit a gratifying complexity that qualifies them as some of the earliest examples of three-dimensional characters in Japanese fiction.

O-Nobu is quick-witted and cunning, a snob and narcissist no less than her husband, passionate, arrogant, spoiled, insecure, naive—yet, above all, gallant. Under Soseki’s scrutiny, she emerges as a flesh-and-blood heroine with a palpable reality, dueling with her husband, his troublemaking friend, Kobayashi, and her sister-in-law, O-Hidé. Tsuda undertakes his own battles with Kobayashi, O-Hidé, and the manipulative Madam Yoshikawa, his boss’s wife. These exchanges explode into moments of intense jealousy, rancor, and recrimination that will surprise English-speaking readers who expect indirectness, delicacy, and reticence in Japanese relations. Echoing the work of Jane Austen and Henry James, Soseki’s novel achieves maximal drama with minimal action and symbolizes a tectonic shift in literary form.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
A Note on the Translation
19
19
57
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Natsume Soseki (1867--1916) was the foremost Japanese novelist of the Meiji period, known for his books Kokoro, Botchan, and I Am a Cat. He is also the author of Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings.

John Nathan is Takashima Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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