Read Grass on the Wayside by Sōseki Natsume Online

Title : Grass on the Wayside
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780939512454
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 169 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Grass on the Wayside Reviews

  • Capsguy
    2019-06-06 12:19

    Definitely Soseki`s most serious book. His only autobiographical novel (excluding perhaps fragments of Botchan in which he used his own experiences as a teacher to drive the story), and the last novel he completed prior to his relatively early death. And yet, given all of this, it is considerably lesser known than some of his earlier works like Botchan, Kokoro, and I am a Cat.This is not an easy book to read, even though it falls in less than 200 pages. Similar to I am a Cat, it is fragments of the life of Soseki`s alter-ego, Kenzo, who, like Soseki was put up for adoption only later to be return to his birth family, with his past adoptive life and parents creeping up on him for their own material gain (the reason they took him up for adoption in the first place, adoption in the Meiji Era in Japan is quite different to the Western style and you may want to look up on it prior to reading this)As shown in the Grass on the Wayside, Soseki never really forgave his parents for their dis-ownership of him, nor his adoptive parents for only using him as an object, like a share, which may offer future dividends. This may be one of the reasons why it is evident in this, and quite a few other of his books that isolation, loneliness, and the fear to love others is so prevalent. Notably the fore-founder of modern Japanese literature, Soseki didn`t always have it well off, even though prior to the Meiji Restoration his family was what you may call in the bourgeois. A lot of readers tend to appreciate reading about struggling writers/people in general, almost every well supported and developed character in this story is in that position.This story does not move fast, and I strongly recommend you reading some of Soseki`s lighter books, or at least Kokoro prior to checking this out. I think, sometimes to really appreciate an author you have to read past his books, and be able to grasp an understanding of the person behind the books too. Grass on the Wayside is a prime example of this, and it sheds light on aspects in previous novels by Soseki that I have read that I was unbeknownst to.

  • umberto
    2019-06-14 11:11

    “Grass on the Wayside” by Natsume Soseki, I think, is a must read for those having enjoyed reading some of his novels like “Botchan”, “Kokoro”, “I Am a Cat”, “Sanchiro”, “The Gate” and so on. Regarded as his only autobiographical novel completed in 1915, the book has gradually unfolded, more or less, the writer’s life in the guise of Kenzo from each of its relatively 102 short chapters (they were first serialized in the Asahi shimbun); therefore, we would better understand his conflicts as a pioneering novelist in the Meiji era. The translator maintains, “Nevertheless, it is all in all his most serious work. And of the countless number of autobiographical novels that have been written in Japan since the early 1900’s, it is perhaps the most distinguished.” (p. ix)However, there’re a few characters we don’t like as well as Japanese cultural/legal complexity we don’t get, for instance, Shimada, Kenzo’s foster father who unexpectedly keeps showing up for cash he thinks he should deserve for his past sacrifice, supported by a key document which Kenzo doesn’t care. Moreover, we can’t help sympathizing with the protagonist regarding such formidable adversity seemingly originated from his humility or inferiority as we can see from the following:They stayed in the same lodging house for a time. The man’s apartment had a living room in addition to the bedroom, and in the evenings he would appear in an embroidered satin dressing gown, sit down contentedly in front the fire, and read. Kenzo, who lived like a frightened mouse in a cell-like room that faced the north, secretly envied him. (p. 95)Incidentally, there is a grammatical point I wonder if they convey the same meaning, that is, the question "Is that so?" vs the pseudo-one "Is that so."; therefore, one extract from each case would be taken to illustrate and consider below:There was a touch of comedy, Kenzo thought, in her long solemn preamble. ... He was sorry for her; but he was also a little ashamed of her. He said,"What is it that you want to tell me? I have something to tell you myself.""Is that so? In that case, let's hear what you have to say first. ... " (p. 11) [+ another on page 31]"Surely he did it out of consideration for you. He told your brother to keep them carefully since you could never tell what a fellow like that might do.""Is that so."... (p. 50) [+ 4 more on pages 72, 146, 155, 157]

  • John Treat
    2019-06-17 10:15

    Just reread Edwin McClellan's perfect translation of this. It is probably my favorite Soseki novel: his only vaguely autobiographical work, he is devastating not only about his family, but himself ("Kenzo") as well. Misanthropy turned into an aesthetic, almost advice for living. I especially admire the novel's omniscient narrator, who always says the right thing at the right time. I can see Americans puzzled over a novel where everyone is broke but still have house servants; but this is Japan over a century ago. Read it and learn.

  • fenrir
    2019-06-10 08:30

    Carino, più all'inizio che verso il finale in realtà. Diciamo che l'inizio del libro era pieno di promesse e aspettative e quando ho chiuso il libro non ho potuto fare a meno di chiedermi; tutto qua?. Il libro comunque è molto meglio di come mi aspettassi, mi è piaciuto decisamente. Il modo di scrivere di Soseki mi piace, e questo è il primo dei sui libri che riesco a leggere ma ora sono curiosa e ho intenzione di andare a cercare qualcos'altro di suo perché credo proprio meriti.

  • Qofarudin Wahab
    2019-06-08 05:28

    Amazingly introspective.“I am not as hard as I seem. For the right person, I too could shed a few tears.”This novel is mainly on Kenzo monologue. His feeling, his wife feeling, his family issue. Everything not only from his own point of view but he also tried to view himself from others perspective. Especially when it comes to him and his wife relationship.Soseki novels have always been about himself and the loneliness he felt with the characters serve as an alter ego for Soseki."He thirsted for blood, and since others were not available for slaughter, he sucked his own blood and was satisfied.”Botchan in BotchanSensei in KokoroKenzo in MichikusaIf you were accustomed to Soseki previous works than you might be able to relate each character with Kenzo since this autobiographical novel is about Soseki by Soseki himself.

  • Grayden
    2019-06-03 11:21

    The best autobiography I've read so far!!!It's very engaging despite the slow pace.It enable me to have an insight of the culture and differences in perceptions of Japanese in the post-war era.

  • Bob Newman
    2019-06-25 12:24

    "I am a Rat "If you aren't familiar with the life of Natsume Soseki (and how many non-Japanese are ?), you could be forgiven for not realizing that this is an autobiographical novel. The introductory notes in my edition told me so, that's how I found out. With this information, you will soon understand that the author was an unsparing critic of himself. Pessimistic, dark and revealing of his most selfish behavior, GRASS ON THE WAYSIDE tunnels through the underground emotions and suppressed angers of the author's penurious life. Soseki's view of marriage and family ties is extremely bleak. "People didn't really change very much, he thought, they only decayed." (p.112) He certainly included himself. Apparently he took no pleasure in any human relationship. The people who inhabit these pages are constantly sick and poor, but receive little to no sympathy or love from those closest to them. Like most of Soseki's novels, this one explores a certain palette of emotional colors, none of them bright. Unlike others, GRASS ON THE WAYSIDE has more activity, more characters described in greater detail, and rather than being smooth like "Sanshiro", "Kokoro" or "The Three-Cornered World", it has a certain uneven rhythm or start-stop quality in its 102 chapters. I feel this originates in the fact that it was serialized in the Tokyo daily `Asahi Shimbun' when it first appeared."Activity" is a relative word. For most of the novel, Kenzo, the protagonist, wrestles with the dilemma of how to avoid the requests for money of a former foster father and that man's estranged wife. As he struggles to escape the onerous demands of a man he feels he owes nothing, we meet Kenzo's brother and sister, their spouses, and his wife and her relatives. A few other characters also appear. Soseki still prefers introspective analysis to action in the Western sense. Kenzo does not act on his problem until Chapter 90. His decision is nearly coincidental with the birth of his third child. At the end, he muses, "Hardly anything in this life is settled. Things that happened once will go on happening. But they come back in different guises and that's what fools us." If definite endings and complicated plots are your love, better skip this book. GRASS ON THE WAYSIDE is a typically Japanese novel by a Meiji period author, slow, indefinite, psychologically complex, and in this case autobiographical. I happen to admire Natsume Soseki greatly, but I concede that he might not be to everyone's taste.

  • Alexis
    2019-05-26 07:15

    This was the only known autobiographical novel of Natsume Soseki--however, a few of his earlier novels were also based on his experiences. However, this was one of his most melancholic (next to Kokoro, perhaps), having narrated in great detail the strain of his marriage, his loneliness, and the bitter memories and familial duties that haunted him all throughout his life.

  • Stephen Douglas Rowland
    2019-06-15 10:08

    M A S T E R P I E C E

  • Serdar
    2019-06-07 11:02

    Not the thunderclap of power that was "Kokoro", but then again, nothing else is. A slice of life from Natsume's own life -- a man harried by the pains of married life, money troubles, and an absolutely miserable set of family circumstances. The short chapters make it unexpectedly absorbing, since you can dip in and out as needed, but over time you find you dip in and stay in. Now I see where stuff like "The Gate" and "And Then" came from in Natsume's psychic economy.

  • Leslie
    2019-05-25 11:06

    J'ai lu ce roman autobiographique presque d'une traite. Je trouve que Sôseki à un regard très ironique sur lui-même, voir un peu méprisant, mais c'est ce qui fait la qualité de ce livre : Sôseki ne se voile pas la face, il se décrit tel qu'il est, avec ses défauts. Ce livre se concentre sur une période très précise de la vie du personnage principal, Kenzô, où il renoue des liens peu agréables avec son ancien père adoptif, et où il rencontre toutes sortes de problèmes familiaux et pécuniaires. Il s'agit d'un récit de vie très mondain, où il ne se passe pas grand chose en apparence, mais où pourtant l'on apprend à connaître les personnage dans leur plus grande intimité psychologique. Un roman très intéressant sur les humains et la société japonaise en particulier, avec une morale un peu déprimante mais juste.

  • Rise
    2019-05-28 12:26

    Sōseki is my favorite Japanese writer. His writing about the human condition is pithy.Michikusa (Grass on the Wayside) is the last book Sōseki completed a year before his death. It is considered his most autobiographical - the translator said this is his only autobiographical novel, but surely every novel has a hint of "auto" in it). Kokoro ("The Heart of Things"), Mon (The Gate), and Grass on the Wayside forms what can be called Sōseki's trilogy of loneliness. This last book is narrated in some one hundred very brief chapters, each one packed with reflections on family obligations, marriage woes, greed, discontentment, and poverty. It is a beautiful thoughtful book in spite of the protagonist being jerkface the whole time.

  • aya
    2019-06-22 09:11

    Although I could appreciate the complexities of both the protagonist and his wife, this book just plain depressed me. I feel guilty, because I know that I'm not evaluating the book for its literary value. Objectively, i could appreciate the work for its depth, its unapologetic portrayal of the main character. Subjectively, though, seeing the world through his pessimistic, joyless eyes was claustrophobic. That said, it could have just been a bad translation. I have a feeling that Meiji/Taisho era Japanese literature does not translate easily or well into English no matter how good the translation, anyhow. I'll have to read it in Japanese and reevaluate.

  • Matt
    2019-06-22 10:10

    Arguably the best book Ive read by a Japanese writer - this is the autobiographical story of one of Japan's greatest authors. It was the last book he published (he literally wrote it on his death bed), so he broke with formalities and wrote everything as it really happened even though it was really damaging to himself and his family. Yet, in all the Japanese books Ive read, no characters seemed as real as they did in this story, and not only is it a good story to read, but it's writing is fantastic as well. I would definately recommend this book to all serious readers.

  • Jo
    2019-06-10 06:19

    It feels cruel to give a low rating to an intimate and vulnerable novel by an author I love, but a book written for therapeutic purposes does not necessarily a good read make. As per the book jacket; "the author describes his loneliness, the failure of his marriage, and above all his sense of the futility of human relationships". Pretty much. I can't help but recall Woody Allen's immortal phrase "I like the early, funny ones", because I do, but I like a lot of Soseki's serious work too; this is just not a good example, it's simply too personal.

  • Susan Budd
    2019-05-29 10:27

    A candid and insightful self-portrait. This is a melancholy book, but I knew that going in. Before this, the only Soseki books I read were Kusamakura and Ten Night's Dreams—both one-of-a-kind works of literature. They made me want to get to know Soseki. So I chose Grass on the Wayside, the autobiographical novel he wrote in the last year of his life. It is a sad book from page one: Soseki's alter-ego is a lonely overworked college professor with health, family, and money problems. But the writing is flawless, the characters well-drawn, and the story poignant.

  • Irina Trancă
    2019-06-18 11:01

    I found it less enjoyable then his other books I read. This one is more serious and more introspective, even if it's a 3rd person narration. The story itself is dragging and it's not either captivating or likable, with all sort of flash-backs. I found it hard to keep reading it until the end.

  • Danielle
    2019-06-06 08:07

    This is such a hidden Soseki gem! I didn't even know this work existed until a few months ago, but I'm so glad I discovered it. It's autobiographical and very revealing. I realized that even this a man, a genius of the highest order, was as imperfect and had as many stupid moments as everyone else.

  • Okta
    2019-06-13 09:27

    so Japan

  • b bb bbbb bbbbbbbb
    2019-06-23 09:20

    gouging self portrait by the author as a work of fiction. not outstanding, but it grew on me a lot. i love soseki.

  • Malcolm Carter
    2019-06-12 06:17

    Awesome look at the early 20th Century Japan and some of the culture which existed pre-war.

  • Stephen Douglas Rowland
    2019-05-27 08:06

    Soseki's final novel. It's autobiographical, venomous, bleak, lonely, and psychologically complex in ways few authors can rival.