In the award-winning translation by Alan Turney
Walking up a mountain track, I fell
Approach everything rationally, and you become harsh. Pole
along in the stream of emotions, and you will be swept away
by the current. Give free rein to your desires, and you become
uncomfortably confined. It is not a very agreeable place to
live, this world of ours.
- Natsume Soseki, The Three-Cornered World.
Opening with the most famous introductory lines in Japanese
literature, The Three Cornered World has been cherished by
generations of readers as a glittering jewel in the crown
of Sosekis artistic achievement.
A painter escapes to a mountain spa to work in a world free
of emotional entanglement, but finds himself fascinated by
the alluring mistress at his inn and, inspired by thoughts
of Millais Ophelia, he imagines painting her. The woman
is rumoured to have abandoned her husband and fallen in love
with a priest at a nearby temple, but somehow the right expression
for the face on her painting eludes the artist . . .
Beautifully written, humorous and filled with bitter-sweet
reflections on the human condition, The Three Cornered World
was intended as a unique haiku-novel with a mood
utterly different to anything ever produced in the West. Demonstrating
along the way a mastery of everything from Western painting
to Chinese literature, Soseki succeeded in an artistic tour-de-force
that produced what legendary recording artist Glenn Gould
would simply refer to as his favourite book.
Vastly refreshing . . . Soseki doesnt shrink
from seeking and finding exquisite pearls of beauty.
A writer to be judged by the highest standards. His
works create, after the fashion of all great writers, a new
and completely individual reality. Spectator
The greatest Japanese novelist of the modern period.
An extraordinarily varied and accomplished writer.
Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) is Japans most revered writer,
whose works continue to attract vast quantities of critical
scrutiny and debate. His influence, both on contemporary Japanese
authors and throughout East Asia and beyond, has been immense.
ALSO BY THE SAME AUTHOR. THE
TOWER OF LONDON. BOTCHAN.