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Nowaki (novel)

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Wikipedia article

'Nowaki' ( 'Nowaki') is a short Japanese novel by Natsume Sseki (18671916). Written in 1907, the novel was published in the magazine 'Hototogisu' in January. The year 1907 was a turning point in the author's life when he left his Tokyo University teaching position to write full-time for the daily Asahi Shimbun. He also serialized the novel 'Gubijins' () the same year.


'Nowaki' is about three men, all of whom are writers. Two of the younger men, the tubercular Takayanagi and the dandy Nakano, were close in their student days, and are now recent university graduates making their way in the world. The older man of the three is known as Dya-sensei (Master Dya), once a teacher in the provinces who was forced to leave his post by villagers and students angered over his disrespectful attitude toward wealth and authority, now pursuing in Tokyo a career as an editor and writer, but barely eking out a livelihood, much to his wife's consternation. Magazine editor by day, he longs to finish and publish his more serious writing, "Essay on Character." By sheer coincidence, the three lives come together over the sum of one hundred yen (about a month's salary at the time): Nakano's gift to Takayanagi to convalesce at a seaside hot springs, Dya-sensei's debts which are paid off with the purchase of his manuscript, and Takayangi's act of self-sacrifice and redemption.For a more complete synopsis, see Donald Keene, 'Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era'. 2 vols. New York: Henry and Holt, 1984. p. 318-319.


Thematically, 'Nowaki' is linked to 'The Two Hundred Tenth Day' ( 'Nihyaku-tka'), the short, lightweight work it follows, and to 'Gubijins', an overwrought melodramatic tragedy of a young woman unable to succeed in a man's world. 'Nowaki' and 'Gubijins' are the most moralistic and didactic of Sseki's works of fiction, but they also received public and critical acclaim.

'Nowaki' has much in common with Mori gai's short story 'Youth' ( 'Seinen'), in which Sseki appears as a character named Hirata Fuseki, who lectures on literature and intellectual life.Seinen translated by Shoichi Ono and Sanford Goldstein in Youth and Other Stories, edited by J. Thomas Rimer (University of Hawaii Press, 1994), p. 373.

Modern tastes may find 'Nowaki' contrived, but it was considered by some to be the best novel of 1907.'Natsume Sseki Sanshir: a Novel'. With an Introduction by Haruki Murakami, translated with Notes by Jay Rubin. Penguin Classics, 2009. p. xvi. Jim Reichert's analysis of the text can be found in "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Male-Male Desire in Natsume Ssekis 'Nowaki,' in his book 'In the Company of Men: Representations of Male-Male Sexuality in Meiji Literature'.Reichert, Jim. [https://books.google.com/books?id=eoIE0PcHwPAC&pg=PA167&dq=nowaki&hl=en&ei=VC2eTp7WO6iqiQKVgqGWCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=nowaki&f=false 'In the Company of Men: Representations of Male-Male Sexuality in Meiji Literature.'] Stanford University Press, 2006. p167

Angela Yiu has a chapter on 'Nowaki' in her book 'Chaos and Order in the Works of Natsume Sseki.'Yiu, Angela. [https://books.google.com/books?id=sQ3KHuBJ8Y8C&dq=angela+yiu&source=gbs_navlinks_s 'Chaos and Order in the Works of Natsume Sseki.'] University of Hawaii Press, 1998. p13

See also

*Donald Keene


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