Book Review: Sanshirô by Natsume Sôseki

cover book sanshiro“Sanshirô was feeling very much alone and hemmed in by the restless city.”

A young man from the southern countryside of Kyushu comes to Tokyo. He wants to study at the local university. It is his first time being alone in a city such as big as Tokyo. The story is about his first steps into adulthood. Sanshirô learns how to deal with everyday life as a student and to manage the challenges of modern life. He falls in love with a beautiful young woman and must deal with friendship and betrayal. “Sanshirô” is set in 1907 with realistic descriptions of the historical Tokyo. It is a coming-of-age novel in the pure sense.

Natsume Sôseki 夏目 漱石 (1867-1916) is called the greatest modern Japanese writer. He was born in 1867. He wrote many well-known novels such as

and many more, which have been translated into several languages.

“Sanshirô” is his seventh book, published in 1908, first serialized in the “Asahi Shinbun”. It is based on the writer’s own experiences. Natsume Sôseki was a lecturer in English at the Tokyo Imperial University following the famous Lafcadio Hearn. In 1907 he quit his academical career to become a full time writer.

“Sanshirô” is a vivid and interesting novel with strong references to the historical background. The version of Penguin Classics with an introduction by Murakami Haruki and Jay Rubin makes it easy to understand the historical circumstances and to gain insights into Natsume Sôseki’s work. “Sanshirô” is an adorable classic Japanese novel.

Reviewed Title
夏目 漱石. 三四郎. 1908.
Natsume Sôseki. Sanshirô. Translated by Jay Rubin. Penguin Classics, 2009 (cover).