Sunday 5 January 2020

Book Review: Botchan by Natsume Soseki (Classic)

Title: Botchan
Author: Natsume Soseki

Publication Date: 2012 (1906)
Xmas Gift


Botchan is a modern young man from the Tokyo metropolis, sent to the ultra-traditional Matsuyama district as a Maths teacher after his the death of his parents. Cynical, rebellious and immature, Botchan finds himself facing several tests, from the pupils - prone to playing tricks on their new, na├»ve teacher; the staff - vain, immoral, and in danger of becoming a bad influence on Botchan; and from his own as-yet-unformed nature, as he finds his place in the world. One of the most popular novels in Japan where it is considered a classic of adolescence, as seminal as The Catcher in the Rye, Botchan is as funny, poignant and memorable as it was when first published, over 100 years ago. 

Botchan is an entertaining read and I can see why it is such a classic and beloved work. I couldn't help but smile at Botchan's antics, seeing him get into trouble again and again. It is a very amusing tale full of memorable scenes and characters and I am glad I came across it (all thanks to an anime called Bungo Stray Dogs). Although his faults are clear for all to see, you can't help but feel tenderness towards Botchan, in the same way, perhaps, as Kiyo does. The translation comes across well, the prose fluid and easy reading. I would be interested to read more of Natsume Soseki's works, as I understand his style matured over time, so I would like to see that and compare.

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