Read Light and Darkness by Natsume Sōseki Online


Light and Dark, Natsume Soseki's longest novel and masterpiece, although unfinished, is a minutely observed study of haute-bourgeois manners on the eve of World War I. It is also a psychological portrait of a new marriage that achieves a depth and exactitude of character revelation that had no precedent in Japan at the time of its publication and has not been equaled sinceLight and Dark, Natsume Soseki's longest novel and masterpiece, although unfinished, is a minutely observed study of haute-bourgeois manners on the eve of World War I. It is also a psychological portrait of a new marriage that achieves a depth and exactitude of character revelation that had no precedent in Japan at the time of its publication and has not been equaled since. With Light and Dark, Soseki invented the modern Japanese novel. Recovering in a clinic following surgery, thirty-year-old Tsuda Yoshio receives visits from a procession of intimates: his coquettish young wife, O-Nobu; his unsparing younger sister, O-Hide, who blames O-Nobu's extravagance for her brother's financial difficulties; his self-deprecating friend, Kobayashi, a ne'er-do-well and troublemaker who might have stepped from the pages of a Dostoevsky novel; and his employer's wife, Madam Yoshikawa, a conniving meddler with a connection to Tsuda that is unknown to the others. Divergent interests create friction among this closely interrelated cast of characters that explodes into scenes of jealousy, rancor, and recrimination that will astonish Western readers conditioned to expect Japanese reticence. Released from the clinic, Tsuda leaves Tokyo to continue his convalescence at a hot-springs resort. For reasons of her own, Madam Yoshikawa informs him that a woman who inhabits his dreams, Kiyoko, is staying alone at the same inn, recovering from a miscarriage. Dissuading O-Nobu from accompanying him, Tsuda travels to the spa, a lengthy journey fraught with real and symbolic obstacles that feels like a passage from one world to another. He encounters Kiyoko, who attempts to avoid him, but finally manages a meeting alone with her in her room. Soseki's final scene is a sublime exercise in indirection that leaves Tsuda to "explain the meaning of her smile."...

Title : Light and Darkness
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9784805306529
Format Type : e-Book
Number of Pages : 398 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Light and Darkness Reviews

  • Edward
    2019-05-21 12:52

    Introduction & Notes, by John NathanA Note on the Translation--Light and Dark

  • Nicole~
    2019-06-04 15:05

    3.75 starsMan's original sin is his ego - such is Sōseki Natsume's main theme of the unfinished novel Light and Dark, (Meian, 1917), who considered that egoism is the deep-rooted origin of all evils, proliferating like a weed in the rush of modern existence.Sōseki's 'Meian' characters are ordinary Meiji people living ordinary but claustrophobic daily lives, utterly self absorbed, plagued by pettiness and selfish desires; provoked to constant streams of verbal and psychological battles: emphasizing the flaws of marriage, love and interpersonal relationships. Sōseki laid bare the human failings of pride, self-love and disingenuousness in his novel that is fundamentally about perception, a study in human relations, a satire of the artifices of the Meiji period. He plied his characters with the darkness of selfishness, abject isolation, insincerity, distrust, egoism; contrasting those with the lightness of hope, self awareness, truth, revelation, authenticity, visualizing a more illuminating human condition.At the heart of Light and Dark are Yoshio and O-Nobu Tsuda, a young educated and middle-class couple, recently married and considered to be happy. In exploring (Yoshio)Tsuda's and O-Nobu's characters (the peripheral cast are treated similarly), Sōseki tested the binds of marriage as well as the flexibility of their love (or the suffocating effect of it ).Tsuda takes the stage in a plot that turns out to be disappointingly spare of action, and as the title suggests - holds a full spectrum of contrasting images. He is made to be sick, spiritually as well as physically, opening the story with the need for surgery to remove a 'growth'*. An unlikable man, he embodies the typical male of the period in the old-fashioned treatment of his more modern wife. Tsuda's egoism springs from an Old World background: he views himself highly, his right to live a lofty lifestyle and have the freedom to pursue his own desires are solidly planted.Men of old with an immovable sense of duty never allowed themselves to be smitten.Tsuda regards his wife's complete attention to his personal comfort as his entitlement. He sees no need to be honest or giving in his relationship with O-Nobu. Sometimes he attempted to mollify her. At other times he felt rebellious and wanted to escape. In either case he was always aware at the back of his consciousness, of a feeling that amounted to disparagement:I can't be wasting all my time with a woman like you - I have things to do for myself.O-Nobu is a modern woman of the day. She falls in love with Yoshio ( baffling) and marries him almost immediately. She considers herself as 'mistress to her own affairs,' aiming to prove her worthiness and determined to make her marriage a success - a conviction obviously challenged by the stark reality of her marital unhappiness, and her failure to recognize her own egocentric actions as contributing factors. Her struggle to understand and connect to a man like Tsuda is a concern that plagues most relationships.O-Nobu found herself thinking of Tsuda as a self-centered man. Despite the fact that she extended to him from morning to night what she intended to be the fullest extent of kindness and consideration she was capable of, was there no limit to the sacrifice her husband required?Is a husband nothing more than a sponge who exists solely to soak up a wife's tenderness?The novel is a yin and yang minefield, more complex of a read than expected, unprepared as I was at the time I slugged through it. Undeniably, Sōseki possessed the masterful brushstrokes for exquisite imagery and subtle illusions, keeping true to his Zen aesthetics. His portrait of nature, full of beauty and harmonious relationships that are at once asymmetrical and yet maintain a balance, attracted me to this book. Admittedly, my own flawed vision blurred Light and Dark: for me, it was leaden with ambiguities and overshadowed by vague dialogue. Its slow moving narrative and insufferable cast fail to clearly bring to light the deeper concepts recessed in the plot.An unfinished work due to the untimely death of the author, Light and Dark abruptly ended, unsatisfyingly. Surely, Sōseki's intent was to bring a resolution for O-Nobo and Yoshio, a compromise based on the knowledge of oneself, a realization of one's own limitations, and the letting go of ego.* ( the translator is unsure of the nature of the illness, only that Tsuda needs surgical repair. In any case, the allegorical setting is laid).Fans of Japanese Literature would still enjoy this work which needed much more patience than I possessed ( although by the time I reviewed it, I suppose I came to appreciate it better ). ---------Light and Dark represents Sōseki’s effort to put in perspective, through his unique approach to fiction, the rapidly changing dynamics of Japanese society and culture during the Meiji period (1868–1912), of a well-ordered society rushing too quickly toward a modernized Japan. Sōseki saw the erosion of fundamental truths as expressed in traditional Japanese myth and Zen Buddhist teachings as well as fundamental truths of the human condition. In his works, Sōseki constructed fictional characters to articulate his belief that modernization is necessary for Japan’s survival, but, when it occurs too quickly, such change is unhealthy and threatens individual happiness. Sōseki viewed that slower movement over time and space was critical to human development and the attainment of happiness.

  • Néstor Ramírez Vega
    2019-06-11 13:44

    La novela inacabada de Natsume Soseki que, sin embargo, es también una de sus obras más profundas con personajes que abordan diversos temas a partir de sus ideales.

  • Margaret
    2019-06-16 17:53

    I should know better to read an unfinished novel but I couldn't resist a little upheaval and mystery in my reading life. The writing is one of the deepest most intense reading and yet at the same time ambiguous and sublime. There were whole sections that I have to re-read and then go back to read a third time. I like the inner workings of the mind and exploring deep psychological meaning in day to day life. Even better is finding a writer who explores this to the depth that I enjoy. I feel that this last novel of Natsume dares to walk boldly into all those levels and taking it a step further into the spiritual. At some point it created a claustrophic reaction that reminded me of the British show "Prisoner". It would have been interesting to see how Natsume would have worked out the ending on this very beautiful, unique story.

  • Lou Last
    2019-06-18 16:59

    In contrast to the previous evening, her face was somewhat redder than what Tsuda knew to be her normal complexion. But that might be interpreted as the physiological effect of the strong autumn sunlight falling directly upon her. Such was Tsuda’s thought as he shifted his gaze away from the mountains to Kiyoko’s flushed earlobes. They were thin. The position of her head was such that the sun struck her ears from behind, and Tsuda had the feeling the light reaching him had been filtered through her bloodstream on its way.*

  • Donald
    2019-06-12 17:56

    This was sublime and I got a lot out of reading it again. I first read this book about twenty years ago and have moved with it (along with a ton of other books)seven times in the last two decades.Soseki's precision,emotional honesty and stunning attention to essential detail are on display... great writing.

  • G.G.
    2019-05-25 09:48

    Tokyo, second decade of the twentieth century. The middle class get about in rickshaws or on the trolley; they send the maid out to make calls on the public telephone; they visit one another on a whim and talk for hours. It took a while to adjust myself to this slower world that Natsume Sōseki depicts. And as the translator, John Nathan, admits in his very necessary introduction: "The plot of Light and Dark is a paltry matter: its 700 languorous pages proceed in an atmosphere of insistently quotidian, if highly charged, stasis" (p. 6). Nonetheless, the cumulative effect is powerful, even Jamesian. The translation, too, is ravishing, not a false note throughout.

  • Bob Newman
    2019-06-09 10:04

    The Lotus of Truth Grows from the Muck of Daily LifeNo doubt some novels are much more difficult to translate than others, but the problem is usually that the translator must transform the scintillating language of the original into equally attractive language in the translation. Works like "The Master and Margarita" (Bulgakov) or "The Devil to Pay in the Backlands" (Guimaraes Rosa) come to mind. What to do, though, when the original consists of purposely vague and banal conversation for hundreds of pages ? This is the problem faced by translators of LIGHT AND DARKNESS, Natsume Soseki's last work. Soseki's concern with human psychology, the minutiae of daily life, and Buddhist philosophy create a novel that is structurally deep and subtle, but boring in form. Soseki focusses on contradictions in human nature---love vs. self-centeredness, honesty vs. falsity, egoism vs. selflessness, for some examples. His five main characters show varied combinations of positions on these continuums and the novel may have been meant to show their transformation towards more enlightened states. Their progress is slow, almost imperceptible. There is a soap opera-ish quality introduced by the fact that it was serialized in a newspaper in 1916 over 188 days. They engage in endless conversations of extreme mediocrity--the dialogue is nothing if not wooden in English, but I wonder if it could be more exciting in Japanese ? Perhaps it would only seem more natural.Tsuda goes to the hospital for a minor operation. O-Nobu, his wife, visits him, visits her relatives and gets some extra money which the couple needs because they are rather extravagant. Kobayashi, a poor, unemployed former friend, visits Tsuda and advises him to change his attitudes, vaguely threatens to reveal his (not so colorful) past to O-Nobu. Kobayashi visits O-Nobu too, but nothing happens. Tsuda's sister tries to get him to realize his obligations towards his parents. Mrs. Yoshikawa, the wife of Tsuda's boss and a meddler, tries to get Tsuda to change his ways too, sending him to a hot spring resort where at last he meets Kiyoko, a former love, of pure heart, now married to another man. That is the entire story. The reader must concentrate on attitudes and psychology because action is nearly nil, conversations banal. Soseki's ability to probe each character's psyche, both male and female, is at its brilliant height. We don't learn the conclusion because Soseki died before the novel was finished. While Buddhist philosophy and stories planned on a vast scale may appeal to some, I would have to disagree with the translator's comments in my edition. LIGHT AND DARKNESS is neither the best modern Japanese novel, nor Soseki's masterpiece. It is atypical. I am glad that I read it, but that is more because I wanted to know Soseki's work. Put it down to curiosity if you will. If your taste runs to philosophically complex and extremely insightful literature, you may find this a wonderful novel. It is certainly original. However, even though LIGHT AND DARKNESS is widely praised in Japan, I have to look at it from the point of view of potential readers in other countries. I would not recommend it to people looking for "a good novel" in a standard sense, or for an idea about Japanese literature in general.

  • Francisco Bó
    2019-05-20 16:45

    Después de una ardua lucha, llegamos a buenos términos. Me hizo acordar a Dostoievsky, pero un poco aburrido. Es interesante conocer la sociedad japonesa de esa época, gente sumanente formal y con un sentido del honor demasiado heavy, que durante todo el libro se hacen dramas gigantes sobre cosas que a mí gusto son pavadas.Por ahí es un libro de más estrellas, pero yo lo disfruté de 3.

  • Berenice Tarará
    2019-05-21 11:48

    De muy fácil lectura, aunque la segunda edición de esta editorial tuvo muchísimas erratas. Creo que todos hubiésemos querido verla terminada, hermosa, a medio camino entre lo que entendemos como oriente y occidente

  • Neus
    2019-05-26 15:00

    Soseki y sus siempre cautivantes obras. Novela lenta y prácticamente solo centrada en el desarrollo de personajes que te hace reflexionar sobre las relaciones humanas, la belleza, los celos, las mentidas, el amor, la amistad, la familia, las apariencias... como bien indica el título es una novela que habla sobre las luces y las sombras de todo ser humano. Como siempre Soseki despliega toda su maestría como escritor y consigue sumergirte de lleno en la obra de forma fácil.La novela coge ritmo hacia el final donde los hechos empiezan a precipitarse en pocas páginas, y cuando ves que la mejor parte se acerca, zas! Este final inacabado que deja a la imaginación del lector el destino de los personajes.

  • Fantasymundo
    2019-06-15 13:51

    El Soseki de "Luz y oscuridad" (Impedimenta, 2013) mostraba un dominio de las técnicas narrativas, una madurez ideológica en cuanto a qué expresar en su obra y a través de qué ideas o metáforas o figuras hacerlo, un control del estilo y del tempo, de la descripción de personajes a través de su acción y psique, inédita hasta entonces. Por eso, con motivos más que fundamentados, ésta se viene considerando no solo como Continuar leyendo

  • Natalie Petchnikow
    2019-05-20 17:00

    Pour nous, c'est "les liaisons dangereuses" que "Clair Obscur" évoque ; ce roman a soufflé au cinéma on art du montage et Sôseki prolonge sa cruauté en appliquant sa vitesse d'exécution à l'examen de la décomposition d'un couple ordinaire.

  • Leslie
    2019-05-26 15:43

    Le seul livre de Sôseki que je n'ai pas vraiment aimé. Ce n'est pas parce qu'il est inachevé mais plutôt que le style ne m'a pas plut. Je l'ai trouvé ennuyeux même s'il y avait de bonnes idées.

  • Emma
    2019-06-01 09:52

    not the usual Soseki. it would be interesting to know how Soseki planned to end the story. do we know?my full review is here:

  • Charybde
    2019-05-19 11:58

    Horrendous translation.