soseki on individualism

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Soseki on Individualism. `Watakushi no Kojinshugi' Author(s): Jay Rubin and Natsume Soseki Reviewed work(s): Source: Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Spring, 1979), pp. 21-48 Published by: Sophia University Stable URL: . Accessed: 06/11/2011 03:57Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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Soseki on Individualismno 'Watakushi Kojinshugi'

is ATAKUSHI NO KOJINSHUGI ('My Individualism') surely the single of nonfiction that Natsume S6seki wrote. most often-quoted piece to has Some reference thislecture becomevirtually to indispensable thatrunthrough of of and loneliness anystudy thethemes egoism Soseki'snovels, to the often refer it whendiscussing remarkable and historians upsurgein indiWar of 1904-05.1 the Here Sosekispeaks vidualism thatfollowed Russo-Japanese the thatoftenseemsto undermine without fictional context as directly, himself, characters. questions addresses The similar he ideas spokenby his imaginary are in between proudcoma thosewe encounter continually thenovels: thetension and the longingfor emotional individualism mitment modern,rationalistic to between in individual needsand thedemands submergence thegroup;theconflict and of stateand society;thelessonsof experience thedesireto pass themon to is on youth;the abuses of powerand money;there even something theposition of openness rarefora novelist of women.And in a moment who tendedto shun mode favoredby the majority his countrymen, of the autobiographical SosekiTHE AUTHOR is Associate Professor in the Departmentof Asian Languages and Literature,University Washington. of He would like to thank Kenneth B. Pyle, PhyllisI. Lyons, and Sumie Jonesforreading and offering valuable suggesthe manuscript tions. to ResearchfortheIntroduction thisarticle was partially supported by the School of Studies,University Washingof International ton. I ShimizuIkutara && 'JikoHon'i no JtR, Tachiba' f1 E-*{ ROAM, in Shiso5 PuM,November 1935, was the first studyto recognizethe importance of 'Watakushi no Kojinshugi' of LQI{AtA to an understanding Soseki's It fiction. was at thistime,withthepublication of the 'definitive complete works' (the socalled 'ketteiban zenshu' that ;

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S6seki scholarsbegan to wrest master the from the hands of his disciples.See Eta JunMg ed., AsahiShcjiten:NatsumeSo5seki F!449 *W *, Asahi Shimbunsha,1977,pp. 217 & TAN 225. During Soseki's lifetimethe lecture was printedonly in a school magazine, a sort of Festschrift designed to support a political campaign (see n. 24, below), and in a seeminglyinconsequential volumeof excerpts from Soseki's works, Kongoso5IA4NIJU, Shiseid6, 1915. Far frombeing a major documentin the lively debate on individualism then appearingin the intellectual journals, it drew no discoverablereactionin such publications as Taiyo5, Chau Koron,Nilionoyobi Nihonjin, Asahi Shimbun, Kokumin Shimbun, Mita Bungaku,or Shirakaba. See also nn. 10 & 56, below.


XXXIV, 1 Nipponica, Monumenta

that led to his beliefin some of the experiences speaks of his life,describing individualism. why complete a are soundreasons however, there perfectly For all itsquotability, materialis now Much of the biographical translation mightseem unnecessary. it works.And whileSosekipresents witha passion readily availablein secondary thatparaphrase is can neverpossess,the format farfromideal. and immediacy himself interminaand In many waysa Poloniusat heart, Sasekirambles, herepeats becausehe is speaking a youthful to he audienceforwhomhe felt must bly,partly alwaysrepeats himself. ideas, but also because Soseki illustrate eventhe simplest No doubt,whathe tellshis audienceat greatlength true: he was givenfrom is to his at but to spring November prepare lecture, stillhe arrived thepodiumwithof presentation. (The textwe have now is his revision a stenogout an organized I have resisted to but rapher's notes.)2Thus,thetemptation edithas been great, it forseveral reasons. ad back to seemingly hoc In some of the morecrucialpassages,Soseki refers pointless remarks that turnout to have had some relevanceafterall. Entirely for comments in fact, scarce,and evensomeof thoseare of interest relatively are, whattheyrevealof Soseki's personality-andhis senseof humor.The rambling can indulges byno meansunusualforSoseki,as readers is inwhich occasionally he criticism foundinsteaddetailed and attestwho have turnedto him forliterary condition complaints or whokeepinterrupting on aboutvisitors reports hisgastric his work.3The Japanesepublic speaker'sconventional openingapologyforhis whenwe see it beingemployed a man like by deficiencies, is of someinterest too, in for Soseki. And finally, thosewho mustread Soseki in Englishor excerpted dog-earedcopies of 'Hibbettand Itasaka', theremust always be the nagging are or the questionof how muchthey getting how important quotedpassagesare willknow. or in context. Now, forbetter worse,they his at on years Sosekidelivered lecture Gakushulin 25 November1914,fifty-six the thisschoolfor to theday before novelist MishimaYukio, who had attended exhorted members Japan's Self-Defense of Force to richyounggentlemen, the rallyin supportof the Emperorand, when theyfailedto respond,committed ritualdisembowelment. Soseki would have been appalled at Mishima'sactions, shouldwillingly havebalkedat thesuggestion individuals that and wouldcertainly whenGeneral livesforthestate, he was undoubtedly moved but downtheir very lay of one of theforemost of military figures his timeand President Nogi Maresuke, formof from1907 untilhis death,committed same traditional the Gakushulin the havehad difficulty suicide Meijiin 1912.Critics following deathoftheEmperorin Ara Masahito ThEA,Soseki Bungaku xi, pp. 588-94.Of particularinterest this Zenshti, Bekkan: Soseki Kenkyad Nenpyo5 connectionis a paper that Soseki wrote in *W @ ~1i, Shuieisha,1974, p. English while he was in Higher School (or M MT-, 503. The presenttranslationis based on the HigherMiddle School, as it was stillcalled in textcontainedin Soseki Zensha [sz], Iwanami 1890), 'Japan and England in the Sixteenth in Shoten,17 vols., 1974-6, xi, pp. 431-63. Century', sz, xii, pp. 304-6. 3 See, forexample,'Tsuchini tsuite', in sz,2


Soseki on Individualism


how the suicideof GeneralNogi is relatedto the suicideof explaining exactly display S6seki'sprotagonist Kokoro(1914), but it is clearthatthistraditional in of openedup wellsprings emotionin Senseithathe had of sincerity loyalty and assumedto be long sincedriedup, thanksto his educationin 'thismodernage, and selves'.' so fullof freedom, independence, our own egotistical but S6seki maynot have done muchto prepareforhis lecture, in a sensethe in from which was serialized Aprilto August theAsahiShimbun, writing Kokoro, of for his study the of as was as mucha preparation anything, it brought continuing self'to its logicalconclusion Sensei'sdeath.5As Edwin McClellan in 'egotistical thatSosekiasks: "How is manto escapefrom has written, is in Mon and KJjin 'It ?" thathe finally hisownsenseofisolation and purposelessness And itis in Kokoro he givestheonlyanswer knows.'6 and about tendaysbefore lecture, his after completed he Some months Kokoro, 'deathto be man'slastand greatest to friend he believed that S6sekiwrote a young to and it was also about thistimethathe wrotewithreference an epihappiness', sode involving suicidalwoman: 'death is more preciousthan life.'7In both a suicideas an answerto life'sproblems, and like he instances, however, rejected the of life to Sensei,whoseescape from came onlyafter writing his testament the closerto theyoung'disciSosekibegandrawing sincere, youngstudent/narrator, to himself themin orderto pass on at ples' who gathered his home,and opening his of as something hispastexperience, he does with audienceat Gakushiin.8The in in of examination his formative yearsemerged manyof the sketches resulting and February1915) and in the Garasudono Naka (serializedduringJanuary novel Michikusa (June-September Kenzo, learns 1915), whose protagonist, the he from ghostsof his past thatbeneath 'veneer'of his modern the education, thanhe had supposed.9 people sharesmorewithother of Kenzo is not comforted the realization his collective by Finally,however, himself with identity, more than Daisuke in Sore kara (1909) can content any in feudalheritageor the artistin rusticating the cool shadows of his father's in dehumanized worldof oriental Kusamakura (1906) can linger the passionless, commentators have been able to discover Determined aestheticism. Soseki's ultiin chaptersof mate answerto life'svicissitudes only one place: the unwritten unfinished thetimeof his deathin 1916. at Meian,thenovelhe left4 SZ, VI, p. 41. Quoted from Edwin McClellan's translationKokoro, Regnery,Chicago, 1957,p. 30. 5 For a discussionof the timingof 'Watakushi no Kojinshugi', see Tamai Takayuki Zengo' no 1K;L9, ' " Watakushi Ko]inshugi" MA, in Nihon Bungaku Kenkyul Shiryo Kankakai, ed., Nihon Bungaku Kenkyui Shiryo Sosho: Natsume Soseki, Yuiseido, 1970,pp. 236-44. 6 'The Implications of Saseki's Kokoro', in MN, xiv, p. 357. The dates of Mon and K5jin are 1910 and 1912-3, respectively. 7 For the letter, see sz, xv, pp. 414-5. The episode with the woman is described in Garasudono Naka (1915), Sections 6-8, in s