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This novel was previously translated under the title The Three-Cornered World , which refers to another of the narrator's pet theories -- and explains his world-view: artists, he suggests, live: in a three-cornered world, in which the corner that the average person would call "common sense" has been sheared off from the ordinary four-square world that the normal inhabit. The vulgar mind terms it "romanticizing," but it is no such thing. In fact, the phenomenal world has always contained that scintillating radiance that artists find there.

It's just that eyes blinded by worldly passions cannot see the true nature of reality. The narrator dabbles and scribbles, finding some inspiration but for the most part unable to get it just right. Yes, there's a satisfying concluding moment -- but even that is agreeably subdued: art, here does not shout from the mountain-tops.

Review of Japanese Culture and Society

Kusamakura is like a meandering mountain-hike. The setting and the somewhat quirky characters, and the loony tragic-beauty that is Nami, do, of course, help with the atmosphere, too.

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Certainly not for those readers looking for detective-work fiction, but if one is willing to just drift along, Kusamakura offers surprisingly many rewards. Orthofer , 19 May Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs. Contents: Main.

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Kusamakura - US. I feel like he could be one of those long ago puzzle peices that makes my whole painting. I know, the Kusamakura protagonist didn't believe in "detective" work. It isn't a complete fit. I don't want it to be. What I love about detective work is figuring out the differences and the sameness. I DO care about the hows and the whys. Only thanks to the existence of the poet and the painter are we able to imbibe the essence of this dualistic world, to taste the purity of its very bones and marrow. The artist feasts on mists, he sips the dew, appraising this hue and assessing that, and he does not lament the moment of death.

The delight of artists lies not in attachment to objects but in taking the object into the self, become one with it. Once he has become the object, no space can be found on this vast earth of ours where he might stand firmly as himself. He has cast off the dust of the sullied self and become a traveler clad in tattered robes, drinking down the infinities of pure mountain winds. That might be a more appropriate description of Soseki. The traveling as ellipsis!

Our years may pass unheeded until we find ourselves in groaning decrepitude, but when we turn to recollect our life and enumerate the vicissitudes of our history and experience, then surely we will be able to call up with delight some moment when we have forgotten our sullied selves, a moment that lingers still, just as even a rotting corpse will yet emit a faint glow.

Kusamakura by Natsume Soseki - Penguin Books Australia

Anyone who cannot do so cannot call his life worth living. I know I said it borders on a self-help style too much to underly the true meaning of beneath the gaze But moments like this? This is the true definition of natures. Does anyone else like to watch making ofs about their favorite films? Kusamakura feels a bit like that. I remember my mouth hanging open in astonishment over one behind the scenes story about Klaus Kinski from Werner Herzog. I don't need the behind the scenes to feel anything about Klaus Kinski I really do. Feel something , but knowing how Kinski would keep his feet planted and rotate the rest of his body for the camera to pick up how he entered the frame larger than life?

I was impressed. First wall, second wall, third wall I love it when they don't have to break and exist at the same time. Kusamakura is that kinda behind the scenes rather than just the story. No matter what the "pure" artistic aim was in its construction to exist outside of emotion The construction of the painting was not without spirit. Emotion is spirit, as far as I'm concerned.

I loved Kusamakura for being about this because I'm going to need more stuff like this to explain how one goes about building this life. This review is crazy, isn't it? View all 7 comments. Sharp, clear, precise. I know not everyone few peo Beautiful. I know not everyone few people, even will feel this. The page mountain idyll of a painter who never paints. For Soseki, anything less anything louder, brasher, less disciplined would be a failure.

But where in The Gate or Light and Darkness this reserve might constrain him, here it sets him free. Where The Gate takes place until its pained Zen-temple denouement in a virtual burrow — wintry Tokyo unseen outside — Kusamakura is spring, mountains and sea, a wide chessboard on which his proud sharp-carved characters which, as Eddie Watkins says, are always chess-pieces move with full-extended ease. Demanding your own way only serves to constrain you.

However you look at it, the human world is not an easy place to live. Approach everything rationally, and you become harsh. Pole along in the stream of emotions, and you will be swept away by the current.


Kusamakura, Used

Give free reign to your desires, and you become uncomfortably confined. It is not a very agreable place to live, this world of ours. And so from him I learn the fate of this young man, who is destined to leave for the Manchurian front in a matter of days.

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The real world has crossed the mountains and seas and is bearing down even on this isolated village, whose inhabitants have doubtless lived here in peace down the long stretch of years ever since they fled as defeated warriors from the great clan wars of the twelfth century. Yet here this young man sits, beside an artist for whom the sole value of human life lies in dreaming. If I listen carefully, I can even hear the beating of his heart, so close are we.

And perhaps even now, within that beat reverberates the beating of the great tide that is sweeping across the hundreds of miles of that far battlefield. Fate has for a brief and unexpected moment brought us together in this room, but beyond that it speaks no more. In another register: Nor do I exert myself in climbing the temple steps; indeed, if I found that the climb caused me any real effort, I would immediately give up.

Pasing after I take the first step, I register a certain pleasure and so take a second. With the second step, the urge to compose a poem comes upon me. I stare in silent contemplation at my shadow, noting how strange it looks, blocked and cut short by the angle of the next stone riser, and this strangeness leads me to climb a further step.

Here I look up at the sky. Tiny stars twinkle in its drowsy depths.

That Soseki wrote or published this in the same year as the youthful Botchan seems incredible. With the refinement of the calligraphist or woodblock-printmaker, in a single bound, he joins the masters.

A meditation on life and beauty beneath a kaleidoscope of colours and images, a paean to beauty set against a harlequin shimmer of colours, from the reflections of a sun-light on a the leaves of a tree or the bucolic blooming on the whimsically white flower petals beneath the inky blue night sky. The incandescence of the night-sky, the warbling of the sky-lark beneath leaves of a tree leaden with rain, the pale, indescribable iridescence of sun-light on a mountain slope, the poetry-leaden atmosp A meditation on life and beauty beneath a kaleidoscope of colours and images, a paean to beauty set against a harlequin shimmer of colours, from the reflections of a sun-light on a the leaves of a tree or the bucolic blooming on the whimsically white flower petals beneath the inky blue night sky.

The incandescence of the night-sky, the warbling of the sky-lark beneath leaves of a tree leaden with rain, the pale, indescribable iridescence of sun-light on a mountain slope, the poetry-leaden atmosphere of Japan, these are the images which dominate Kusamakura, a kind of homage to the Chinese poetry and haiku, which were more concerned with the natural world than human psychology; as the narrator states, beneath the indifference of nature lies an acceptance which is not possible in the human world, a freedom from the endless restrictions of society.

To the left of the path soars a mountain peak, in shape rather like an inverted bucket. From foot to summit it is entirely covered in what could either by cypress or cedar, whose blue-black mass is stippled with the pale pink of swathes of blossoming cherry. The distance is so hazy that all appears as a single wash of blurred shapes and colours. Yes, a poem, a painting, can draw the sting of troubles from a troubled world and lay in its place a blessed realm before our grateful eyes.


You only have to conjure the world up before you, and there you will find a living poem, a fount of song. View all 4 comments. Pure simple enchantment, with a healthy helping of farts. The nameless narrator, who is a painter on a journey through the mountains, realizes the heart of things on occasion throughout the book, and these moments are described exquisitely. Many of these moments occur in the natural world amid flowers and trees and streams, but the true heart of things is embodied by a woman he encounters at a hot spring.

She has lived her life with a crazy innocence upon returning to her small village after a disastrous marriage. Throughout the book she haunts and teases the narrator, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, goading him to refine his quest for non-emotional living. There is no real hint of sexual attraction, though at times I suspected that just by being herself she would dismantle his carefully cultivated and refined way of life. The war itself has acted as a distant but ominous shadow throughout the book. The narrator never completes a painting in the book, though he writes quite a few poems, but in his philosophy being an artist is not an end in itself, it is a practice that can help one perceive the heart of things, so to paint or not to paint is of no consequence.

I mentioned farts because one of the chapters is positively fixated on them. View all 38 comments. I must heap praise upon the translator as this must have been quite a challenge.

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  • Every line is seemingly trying to evoke a sense of awed beauty and the translator does an admirable job… and yet almost every page I wished the book would just end and let me be done with it. The book is about an artist. Our unnamed narrator expresses his views of art quite frequently, often going on for full chapters about his theories on aesthetics and declares them all as the proper way of viewing art.

    All is to be viewed in the name of their art, and I personally found it grating. He did.