restricted access Sanshirō
Abstract

Abstract:

In this excerpt from Natsume Soseki's 1908 coming-of-age novel, the protagonist, Ogawa Sanshiro, is twenty-three years old. From Kumamoto, his home in rural Kyushu, he is traveling to the big city to study literature at Tokyo Imperial University. On the train, he meets Professor Hirota, a Western-educated college teacher. In their first conversation, Hirota-sensei surprises Sanshiro by criticizing contemporary Japan for becoming crass and overconfident since defeating Russia in 1905. He tells Sanshiro to guard against nationalistic dogma and propaganda, and to think for himself. By challenging Sanshiro to "translate" Mount Fuji, he compels him to contrast Fuji's authenticity, permanence, and beauty with the superficiality of modern Japanese values. ED


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