Tuesday, May 22, 2007

natsume soseki

Today's may 23 (my birthday, I don't know why the Blogger marks the 22)

(Thanks Barbara for this gift!) I didn’t know about this author, supposed to be one of the most influential modern writers in Japan. In “The Three Cornered World” Soseki (in an autobiographical gesture) tells the story of a man who retreats to a country hotel in order to paint or write poetry (for him both manifestations are almost the same), but he is not very successful in his attempts of ‘creating’ anything because the daughter of the hotel’s owner has a mysterious story to tell. Actually it is only in the last paragraph of the novel when the protagonist is able to grasp the idea for his work of art, which he thinks, must be inspired by ‘compassion’, the only ‘great’ feeling.
The novel is structure in such a way that it permits the first person narrator to dig into all kinds of hypotheses about art, literature and painting, and even though many occidental references are given (Lessing, Shelley, Swinburne, Sterne, Oscar Wilde, Ibsen) the narrator manages to deprecate western art through a series of examples: painting, literature, and even food: “There is not a single Western dish, with perhaps the possible exception of salads and radishes, which could be said to have an attractive colour” (62).
While reading the novel it just came to me the thought: If García Márquez’s ‘Memoria de mis putas tristes’ is supposed to be inspired in Kawabata’s, ‘House of the sleeping beauties’, maybe Carlos Fuentes did read this novel before writing his miniature masterpiece, ‘Aura’. Just an impression! Anyhow, what is true is the legacy Soseki has managed to pass in future generations, especially in Japan (Mishima, Tanizaki and Oé).
A quote:
“An artist is a person who lives in the triangle which remains after the angle which we may call common sense has been removed from this four-cornered world”.


Barbara said...

Hey, Nico, I'm glad you liked it.
I think he actually succeds in creating a work of art by removing himself from the emotions and feelings (the fourth corner) that the encounters with the mysterious woman inspire. I see in their very few and short exchanges, through the transcendence of gender among everything else, the achievement of equality and beauty; it's one of the reasons for which this is one of my favorite novels.

nico said...

Yes, absolutely, I am always impressed with that subtlety that japanese authors are known for, such as Tanizaki and also Ishiguro (however English), that depiction of women, so delicate, intimate. you're right, thanks again for the gift!