Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings (Weatherhead Books on Asia)
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Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) was the foremost Japanese novelist of the twentieth century, known for such highly acclaimed works as Kokoro, Sanshiro, and I Am a Cat. Yet he began his career as a literary theorist and scholar of English literature. In 1907, he published Theory of Literature, a remarkably forward-thinking attempt to understand how and why we read. The text anticipates by decades the ideas and concepts of formalism, structuralism, reader-response theory, and postcolonialism, as well as cognitive approaches to literature that are only now gaining traction.
Employing the cutting-edge approaches of contemporary psychology and sociology, Soseki created a model for studying the conscious experience of reading literature as well as a theory for how the process changes over time and across cultures. Along with Theory of Literature, this volume reproduces a later series of lectures and essays in which Soseki continued to develop his theories. By insisting that literary taste is socially and historically determined, Soseki was able to challenge the superiority of the Western canon, and by grounding his theory in scientific knowledge, he was able to claim a universal validity.
forced to recognize, was where I had made my mistake. All right, then, perhaps it was impossible to reconcile the contradiction between the English critics’ views and my own. But if it could not be reconciled, at least it could be explained, and that explanation could cast a ray of light on the world of letters here. It embarrasses me to confess that I was realizing such obvious notions for the first time so late in life, but I have no intention of concealing the truth from you. My next step
cases of fascination or bewitchment) and chapter 4 (on the specific instance of tragedy).. The preceding section differentiated the material that comprises literature into four types and gave an account of their characteristic qualities and mutual interactions. At this point we will shift our sights slightly and raise the question of the principles under which quantitative transformation of these four types of material occurs. To raise the question of quantification is to ask under what
daily basis, and if we feel a sense of anticlimax when the matter is finally settled, that is because the object F of the vow of chastity has long since disappeared, and all that is left is the deeply persisting small f. b. It is also often the case that, while the object F itself continues to exist, it no longer rates the emotions heretofore attached. Yet small f continues to adhere as before. Consider, for example, the case of the retainer under the old Domain system who continues to bow and
common sense, an attack of fever leaves one wandering in a state of semiconsciousness and, as with Marianne’s senseless words about her mother, foreground the debilitated state with respect to the normal. However, from the visionary point of view of the poet, one can’t avoid a quite different interpretation of this phenomenon. In the state of having taken leave of one’s everyday self, the life force in the spirit can be dispatched a thousand miles into the distance and can know the past and
is nothing more than an index designed to provide, at a glance, the information that—at least up to now—such and such has always been thus. It is a convenience, but it is the height of folly to assume that in the future no continuity will appear that transcends the current “law.” It is for this reason that persons of discernment find nothing strange in things that ordinary people find inexplicable. This is because they are aware that innumerable relations of cause and effect exist beyond those