I ALWAYS called him "Sensei." [note1] I shall therefore refer to him simply as " Sensei," and not by his real name. It is not because I consider it. Fiction Library copy is trimmed (15 cm) to be hard covered. Notes. No copyright page found. No table-of-contents pages found. Some content. "Kokoro" by Natsume Soseki - EPUB, MOBI, and AZW3 format. Book Description: Natsume Soseki is one of Japan's most notable authors of the 20th century. It was originally published serially in the Asahi Shimbun Newspaper under the title "Kokoro: Sensei no Isho [Sensei's Testament].".
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Trove: Find and get Australian resources. Books, images, historic newspapers, maps, archives and more. The great Japanese author's most famous novel, in its first new English translation in half a century No collection of Japanese literature is complete without. Editorial Reviews. From Booklist. *Starred Review* Kokoro is the great Japanese modern novel.
The Westerner, with whom he had first come, never showed himself again. Sensei was always alone. One day, however, after his usual swim, Sensei was about to put on his summer dress which he had left on the bench, when he noticed that the dress, for some reason, was covered with sand. As he was shaking his dress, I saw his spectacles, which had been lying beneath it, fall to the ground. When he began suddenly to look for them, I approached, and bending down, I picked up his spectacles from under the bench.
The next day, I followed Sensei into the sea, and swam after him. When we had gone more than a couple of hundred yards out, Sensei turned and spoke to me. The sea stretched, wide and blue, all around us, and there seemed to be no one near us.
The bright sun shone on the water and the mountains, as far as the eye could see. My whole body seemed to be filled with a sense of freedom and joy, and I splashed about wildly in the sea. Sensei had stopped moving, and was floating quietly on his back. I then imitated him. The dazzling blue of the sky beat against my face, and I felt as though little, bright darts were being thrown into my eyes.
And I cried out, "What fun this is! But I answered willingly enough, "Yes, let us go back. That was the beginning of our friendship. But I did not yet know where Sensei lived. It was, I think, on the afternoon of the third day following our swim together that Sensei, when we met at the tea house, suddenly asked me, "Do you intend to stay in Kamakura long?
I could not help blurting out, "And you, Sensei? I saw that he had no ties of any kind with the other people staying there. He smiled wryly at the way I persisted in addressing him as "Sensei," and I found myself explaining that it was my habit to so address my elders. I asked him about the Westerner, and he told me that his friend was no longer in Kamakura. His friend, I was told, was somewhat eccentric. He spoke to me of other things concerning the Westerner too, and then remarked that it was strange that he, who had so few acquaintances among his fellow Japanese, should have become intimate with a foreigner.
Finally, before leaving, I said to Sensei that I felt I had met him somewhere before but that I could not remember where or when. I was young, and as I said this I hoped, and indeed expected, that he would confess to the same feeling.
But after pondering awhile, Sensei said to me, "I cannot remember ever having met you before. Are you not mistaken?
Sensei had left the resort long before me. As we were taking leave of each other, I had asked him, "Would it be all right if I visited you at your home now and then? My self-confidence, I remember, was rather shaken then. Often, during my association with Sensei, I was disappointed in this way.
But no matter how often I experienced such trifling disappointments, I never felt any desire to part from Sensei. Indeed, each time I suffered a rebuff, I wished more than ever to push our friendship further. I thought that with greater intimacy, I would perhaps find in him those things that I looked for.
I was very young, it is true. But I think that I would not have behaved quite so simply towards others. I did not understand then why it was that I should behave thus towards Sensei only. But now, when Sensei is dead, I am beginning to understand.
It was not that Sensei disliked me at first. His curt and cold ways were not designed to express his dislike of me, but they were meant rather as a warning to me that I would not want him as a friend. It was because he despised himself that he refused to accept openheartedly the intimacy of others.
I feel great pity for him. I intended of course to visit Sensei when I returned to Tokyo. There were still two weeks left before the beginning of lectures, and I thought I would visit him during that time. A few days after my return, however, I began to feel less inclined to do so.
The atmosphere of the great city affected me a great deal, bringing back memories. Every time I saw a student in the streets, I found myself awaiting the coming of the new academic year with a feeling of hope and tense excitement. For a while, I forgot all about Sensei. A month or so after the start of lectures, I became more relaxed. At the same time, I began to walk about the streets discontentedly, and to look around my room with a feeling that something was lacking in my life.
I began to think of Sensei, and I found that I wanted to see him again. The first time I went to his home, Sensei was out. It was a lovely day, and the sky was so blue that I was filled with a sense of well-being. Again, he was not at home. In Kamakura, Sensei had told me that he spent most of his time at home; indeed, he had even told me that he disliked to go out.
Remembering this, I felt an unreasonable resentment at having twice failed to find him. I therefore hesitated in the front hall, staring at the maid who had informed me of her master's absence. She seemed to remember that I had called before and left my card. Asking me to wait, she went away. A lady then appeared, whom I took to be the mistress of the house. She was beautiful.
Very courteously, she told me of Sensei's whereabouts. I learned that every month, on the same day, it was Sensei's custom to take flowers to a certain grave in the cemetery at Zoshigaya. Before I had gone very far towards the busier part of town, I decided that it would be a pleasant walk to Zoshigaya.
Besides, I might meet Sensei, I thought. I turned around and started to walk in the direction of Zoshigaya. From the left side of a field I entered the cemetery and proceeded along a broad avenue bordered on each side by maple trees. There was a tea house at the end of the avenue, and I saw coming out of it someone that looked like Sensei. I walked towards him until I could see the sunlight reflected on the frame of his spectacles.
Then, suddenly, I cried out aloud, "Sensei! Then again, "How in the world I did not know what to say. But there was on his face a strangely clouded expression. I explained to Sensei how I happened to be there. After all, she met you today for the first time. No, of course not, there was no need for her to tell you. But I could not understand the reason for his remarks. We walked between tombstones on our way out.
Next to those with inscriptions such as "Isabella So-and-so Sensei did not seem to find the way in which different customs were reflected in the tombstones amusing or ironical, as I did.
Silently, he listened to me for a while as I chattered on, pointing to this tombstone and that. But finally he turned to me and said, "You have never thought seriously of the reality of death, have you? Sensei said no more. Towards the end of the cemetery, there stood a gingko tree, so large that it almost hid the sky from view.
Sensei looked up at the tree and said, "In a little while, it will be beautiful here. Not far from us in the cemetery, a man was leveling off a piece of rough ground. He stopped and, resting on his hoe, he watched us. Turning to our left, we soon reached the main road. Having no particular destination in mind, I continued to walk along with Sensei. Sensei was less talkative than usual. I felt no acute embarrassment, however, and I strolled unconcernedly by his side.
There is nothing else I particularly want to do now. Again I broke the silence. Some relation of yours perhaps? I decided to mention the matter no further. But after he had walked a hundred yards or so, Sensei suddenly reopened the conversation.
I found him always at home. And the more I visited Sensei, the more eager I became to see him again. Despite this, however, there was no great change in Sensei's manner towards me. He was always quiet. At times, he seemed so quiet that I thought him rather lonely. I felt from the start his strangely unapproachable quality. Yet, at the same time, there was within me an irresistible desire to become close to Sensei. Perhaps I was the only one who felt thus towards him. Some might say that I was being foolish and naive.
But even now, I feel a certain pride and happiness in the fact that my intuitive fondness for Sensei was later shown to have not been in vain. A man capable of love, or I should say rather a man who was by nature incapable of not loving; but a man who could not wholeheartedly accept the love of another--such a one was Sensei.
As I have already said, Sensei was always quiet. Moreover, he seemed to be at peace with himself. But sometimes I would notice a shadow cross his face. True, like the shadow of a bird outside the window, it would quickly disappear. The first time I noticed it was at the cemetery at Zoshigaya, when I suddenly spoke to him. I remember that I felt then, though only for a passing moment, a strange weight on my heart.
Soon after, the memory of that moment faded away. One evening, however, towards the end of the Indian summer, it was unexpectedly brought back to my mind. As I was talking to Sensei, I happened for some reason to think of the great gingko tree that he had pointed out to me.
And I remembered that his monthly visit to the grave was only three days away. Thinking that it would fall on the day when my lectures ended at noon, and that I should be relatively free, I turned to Sensei and said: "Sensei, I wonder if the gingko tree at Zoshigaya has lost all its leaves by now? I said quickly: "May I accompany you, when you next visit the grave? I should like to take a walk around there with you.
I began to wonder whether he was making this excuse because he did not wish me to accompany him. I remember that I thought him oddly childish at the time. I became more forward. A shadow crossed his brow, and his eyes shone strangely.
I cannot say whether it was annoyance or dislike or fear that I saw in his expression. But whatever it was, there was beneath it, I felt, a gnawing anxiety. And I was suddenly reminded of the way he looked that day at Zoshigaya when I called to him. Even my wife, you see, has never come with me. But I did not visit Sensei with the purpose of studying him. And I decided to think no more about it. My attitude towards Sensei then is one of those things that I remember with a certain amount of pride.
Because of it, I believe, we were able to become so close to each other. I was, of course, not aware of all this at the time. I hate to think what might have happened had I acted differently.
Even in his relationship with me, he was in constant dread of being coldly analyzed. I began to visit Sensei two or even three times a month. One day, seeing that my visits were becoming more and more frequent, Sensei suddenly said to me: "Why should you want to spend so much time with a person like me? I don't think there's any particular reason Am I a nuisance, sir? I was aware that the number of his acquaintances was rather limited.
As for those who had been in the same class with him at the university, I knew there were no more than two or three in Tokyo. Sometimes, I would find at his house students who were from the same part of the country as Sensei, but it seemed to me that none of them were as close to him as I was.
But I am also a melancholy man, and so I asked you why you should wish to visit me so often. Instead, he looked at me and said, "How old are you? Without pursuing it any further, I left. Four days later, I was back again at his house. As soon as Sensei appeared, he began to laugh.
Had anyone else spoken in such a way to me, I think I should have been annoyed. With Sensei, it was somehow different. Far from being annoyed, I was happy. But I am an older man, and I can live with my loneliness, quietly. You are young, and it must be difficult to accept your loneliness. You must sometimes want to fight it. Otherwise why should you come so often to my house? I have not it in me to help you forget it. You will have to look elsewhere for the consolation you seek.
And soon, you will find that you no longer want to visit me. Inexperienced as I was then, I could not even understand the obvious significance of Sensei's remarks. I continued to see Sensei as before. And before long, I found myself dining at his house occasionally. As a result, I was obliged to speak to Sensei's wife also. Like any other young man, I was not indifferent to women. But being young and my experience of the world being what it was, I had so far not had any opportunity to form any friendship with a woman.
The first time I met Sensei's wife in the front hall, I thought her beautiful. And each time I saw her after that, I was similarly impressed by her beauty. But I felt, at first, that there was nothing of any interest that I could speak to her about.
Rather than to say that she possessed no special qualities worthy of note, it would perhaps be more correct to say that she had never been given an opportunity to show them. My feeling was always that she was little more than a necessary part of Sensei's household. And it would seem that she regarded me, albeit with goodwill, simply as a student who came to talk with her husband.
Apart from Sensei, there was no bond of sympathy between us.
My memory of the early part of our acquaintance, then, consists of nothing more than the impression of her beauty. Sensei's wife came to serve us. Sensei seemed more cheerful than usual. Offering his empty cup, he said to his wife, "You have some too. Frowning slightly, she raised to her lips the cup that I had half-filled for her.
A conversation then followed between her and Sensei. But it does you good to drink occasionally. This will cheer you up. It makes me feel uncomfortable. You, however, seem to have become quite gay. And you haven't had much. But you know, it doesn't always. Then you will stop being melancholy.
Every time I went there, the house seemed to be absolutely quiet. I never heard the sound of laughter there, and some-times it seemed almost as if Sensei and I were the only people in it. But I could feel no real sympathy for her.
At my age, children seemed an unnecessary nuisance. Oh, no," she said, and looked at me. Sensei s wife was silent. Not being a member of the family, I could not of course know how they truly felt towards each other. But whenever I was with Sensei, and if he happened to want anything, instead of the maid, he would call his wife.
The lady's name was Shizu. The tone of his voice, when he did so, always sounded gentle to me. And her manner, when she appeared, seemed always willing and obedient. And whenever they kindly invited me to dinner, and I had occasion to see them together at the table, my pleasant impression of their feelings towards each other would be confirmed.
Sometimes, Sensei would take his wife to a concert or to the theatre. Also, I remember that they went away together for a week's holiday at least two or three times during the period I knew them. I still have with me a postcard that they sent me from Hakone. And I remember that the time they went to Nikko, I received from them a letter with a maple leaf enclosed.
There was, however, one incident that marred my general impression of their married life. One day, I was standing as usual in their front hall, and was about to announce myself. I heard voices coming from the living room.
An argument, rather than an ordinary conversation, seemed to be taking place. The living-room was immediately adjoining the front hall, and I could hear well enough to know that it was a quarrel, and that one of the voices, which was raised now and then, belonged to Sensei.
The other voice was lower in tone than Sensei's, and I could not be sure whose it was. But I was almost certain that it was his wife's. She seemed to be weeping. I stood there for a short while, not knowing what to do. Then I left, and returned to my lodgings. A dreadful anxiety filled my heart. I tried to read, but found that I could not concentrate.
An hour later, I heard Sensei calling from beneath my window. Surprised, I looked out. I looked at my watch and saw that it was past eight o'clock. I left my room immediately. That evening, Sensei and I drank beer together. Sensei was not a heavy drinker. He was not the sort of person to go on drinking if a reasonable amount did not have any cheering effect on him.
I could not forget what had happened earlier that day. It bothered me terribly, like a fish bone in my throat. I could not decide whether I should tell him about it or not. Sensei noticed my anxiety. Have you noticed? And I allowed myself to become stupidly excited. And when I tell her so, she refuses to listen. That is why today, for instance, I unwittingly lost my temper. He said: "If I were the sort of person she thinks I am, I would not suffer so. On our way back, we walked for a while in silence.
Then he began to speak again. I should not have left home in such a fit of temper. My wife must be worried about me. When we think about it, women are unfortunate creatures. My wife, for instance, has no one in this world but me to depend upon. He was silent for a while. He seemed not to expect a reply from me.
He then continued: "Of course, my last remark would lead one to suppose that the husband is self-reliant. Which is laughable. Tell me, how do I appear to you? Do you think me a strong or a weak person? My reply, it would seem, was a little unexpected. He became silent again, and we continued our walk. The road leading to Sensei's house passed very near my own lodgings.
When we reached the corner of my street and I was about to bid him goodnight, I began to feel that it would somehow be heartless to leave him then and there. He made a quick, negative gesture with his hand. It's late. I must go home too. For my wife's sake Because of them I was able to enjoy an untroubled sleep that night. And for a long time after, those words stayed with me: "For my wife's sake I continued to visit them regularly, and I could see that it had been an exceptional occurrence.
Moreover, he took me into his confidence one day and said: "In all the world, I know only one woman. No woman but my wife moves me as a woman. And my wife regards me as the only man for her.
From this point of view, we should be the happiest of couples. But I do remember that his manner at the time was serious, and that he was calm. What struck me then as being odd was his last remark: " Why did he not say, "We are the happiest of couples"? Was Sensei indeed happy? I could not but wonder. But very soon, I brushed aside my doubts concerning Sensei's happiness. One day, for the first time since I met her, I had a good talk with Sensei's wife.
I had previously asked Sensei to discuss a book with me, and he had kindly invited me to visit him that day for that purpose. I arrived at nine o'clock in the morning, as arranged. I found Sensei out. A friend of his, I learned, was sailing from Yokohama, and Sensei had gone to see him off at Shimbashi. In those days, the boat train to Yokohama customarily left Shimbashi at eight-thirty in the morning. Sensei had left a message for me, however, saying that he would be back soon and that I should wait.
While waiting for Sensei, therefore, I talked to his wife. I had also become quite familiar with Sensei's wife. We talked of this and that. I should not have remembered the conversation at all, had it not been for the fact that, in the course of it, we talked of one matter which was of particular interest to me. Before I go on to say what this was, I should perhaps explain a few things about Sensei.
Sensei was a graduate of the university. I knew this from the first. But it was only after my return to Tokyo from Kamakura that I discovered he had no particular employment. I wondered at the time how he managed to support himself.
Sensei lived in complete obscurity. Apart from myself, there was no one who knew of Sensei's scholarship or his ideas. I often remarked to him that this was a great pity. But he would pay no attention to me. Indeed, he was sometimes not above saying rather unkind things about those of his classmates who had since their graduation made names for themselves.
This apparent inconsistency in his attitude, which was at once modest and contemptuous, I quite frankly pointed out to him once. I did not do this in a rebellious spirit. I simply regretted the fact that the world was indifferent to Sensei, whom I admired so much. In a very quiet voice, Sensei answered me: "You see, there is nothing we can do about it. I do not have the right to expect anything from the world.
I did not know whether what I saw was despair, regret, or grief. I had not the courage to say any more. As Sensei's wife and I sat and talked, our conversation drifted naturally to the subject of Sensei. He would hate it. But I doubt that that is the reason. I am sure he would like to do something, really. But somehow, he can't. I am very sorry for him. He is perfectly well.
Do you think that I would be worrying so much, if I did? I feel so sorry for him. Her lips, however, were smiling slightly. As far as our outward manner was concerned, I must have seemed the more anxious of the two. I sat there, silent and serious. She looked up, as though she suddenly remembered something, and said: "You know, when he was young, he wasn't at all the sort of person he is now.
He was quite different. He has changed so. Both Sensei and she herself had told me this before. Her father had actually come from some such place as Tottori, while her mother had been born in Ichigaya, when Tokyo was still known as Yedo. For this reason, she once said, half-jokingly, "I am, as a matter of fact, of mixed blood.
It was clear to me, therefore, that her place of origin could not explain how she had come to know Sensei when he was a student. But seeing the blush on her face when I touched on the subject of their youthful acquaintance, I asked no more about it. In the years between my first meeting with Sensei and his death, I came to know much of what he thought and felt, but, concerning the circumstances of his marriage, he told me almost nothing.
I was inclined, sometimes, to regard this reserve on Sensei's part in a favorable light. After all, I would tell myself, he quite naturally would consider it indiscreet and in bad taste to speak of his early courtship to a youth such as myself.
But sometimes I was inclined to regard his reserve unfavorably. I liked then to think that his reluctance to discuss such a matter was due to timidity born of the conventions of a generation ago. I thought myself more free, in this respect, and more open-minded, than either Sensei or his wife. Whatever my thoughts regarding Sensei's reserve might have been, they were, of course, only speculations.
And there was always, at the back of my speculations, the assumption that their marriage had been the flowering of a beautiful romance. My assumption was not proved entirely wrong. But I was imagining only a small part of the truth that lay behind their love story. Nor did his own wife know how wretched this tragedy had made him. To this day she does not know. Sensei died keeping his secret from her. Before he could destroy his wife's happiness, he destroyed himself.
I shall not speak here of the tragedy in Sensei's life.
And, as I have said before, Sensei and his wife told me almost nothing of their courtship, which had come into being as though for the sake of the tragedy. Sensei's wife said little about it for modesty's sake, but there was a far profounder reason for Sensei's silence. One day, during the flower-viewing season, Sensei and I went to Ueno. I remember that day well. While we were going there, we happened to see a good-looking couple walking close together, beneath the flowering trees.
The place being rather public, they, rather than the flowers, seemed to be the object of interest for many people. There was not even a trace of a smile on Sensei's face. He began deliberately to walk away from the couple. He then said to me: "Have you ever been in love? But actually, you sounded to me like a person who is dissatisfied because he has not yet been able to fall in love, though he wants to. A person who has been in love himself would have been more tolerant and would have felt warmer towards the couple.
But--but do you know that there is guilt also in loving? I wonder if you understand me. We had little opportunity to talk until we reached the woods, where there were no flowers and no people. He seemed as certain as he did before. In fact, you ought to know already. Your heart has been made restless by love for quite some time now.
If you could fall in love with some particular person, you wouldn't be so restless. But my going to you was not the same thing as wanting to fall in love. The friendship that you sought in me is in reality a preparation for the love that you will seek in a woman. But being the kind of man that I am, I cannot help you to rid your heart of that feeling of want.
Moreover, peculiar circumstances have made me even more useless than I might have been as a friend. I am truly very sorry. That you will eventually go elsewhere for consolation is a fact I must accept. Indeed, I even hope that you will. But such a thought has so far never crossed my mind. You may not derive much satisfaction from our friendship, but at least, there is no danger in it. Do you know what it feels like to be tied down by long, black hair? Also, I had no notion of what Sensei meant by "guilt.
Otherwise, please let us not discuss this matter again, until I have myself found out what this 'guilt' is. Instead, I have only succeeded in irritating you. It was wrong of me. Through the gaps in the fencing, we could see dwarf bamboos growing thickly in one part of the garden. There was about the scene an air of deep, secluded peace. He should, of course, have known that I did not know. I remained silent. Then, as though realizing what he had just said, Sensei went on: "I have said the wrong thing again.
I was trying to explain my earlier remarks because I thought they had irritated you. But in trying to explain, I find that I have upset you once more. Let us forget the whole matter.
But remember, there is guilt in loving. And remember too that, in loving, there is something sacred. But I never heard him mention the word "love" again. At least, so I must have appeared to Sensei. I considered conversation with Sensei more profitable than lectures at the university.
I valued Sensei's opinions more than I did those of my professors. Sensei, however, refused to take me seriously. When that fever passes, your enthusiasm will turn to disgust. Your present opinion of me makes me unhappy enough.
But when I think of the disillusionment that is to come, I feel even greater sorrow. Do you find me so untrustworthy? Is that what you mean, Sensei?
Not long before, the garden had been full of camellias. But now, the flowers, which had brightened the scenery with their rich, red color, were all gone. It had been Sensei's custom to look out from his room and gaze at them. There was no other sound.
The house was some distance from the main road, and we seemed to be surrounded by a complete calm. All was quiet, as usual, inside the house itself.
I knew that Sensei's wife was in the next room, busy at her sewing or some such work. And I knew also that she could hear what we were saying. But I momentarily forgot this, as I said: "Then you have no trust in your wife either? He avoided giving a direct answer to my question. And not trusting myself, I can hardly trust others. There is nothing that I can do, except curse my own soul.
It is what I have done that has led me to feel the way I do. At first, my own act shocked me. Then, I was terribly afraid. What is it? I had hardly begun to wonder why Sensei had been called to the next room when he returned. You will learn to regret it if you do. And if you ever allow yourself to feel betrayed, you will then find yourself being cruelly vindictive.
I do not want your admiration now, because I do not want your insults in the future.
I bear with my loneliness now, in order to avoid greater loneliness in the years ahead. You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves.
But I could discern neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction in her manner. Of course, I was not close enough to her to know what her real feelings were. I rarely saw her away from Sensei: besides, in my presence, her behavior was always that of the conventional hostess.
I wondered also why Sensei felt the way he did towards mankind. Was it, I would ask myself, the result of a coldly impartial scrutiny of his own inner self and the contemporary world around him? And if one were as naturally reflective, intelligent; and as removed from the world as Sensei, would one inevitably reach the same conclusions? Such tentative explanations, however, which suggested themselves to my mind, did not completely satisfy me.
Sensei's opinions, it seemed to me, were not merely the result of cloistered reflection. They were not, as it were, like the skeleton of a stone house which has been gutted by fire. They were more alive than that. True, Sensei, as I saw him, was primarily a thinker. But his thoughts, I felt, were based firmly on a strong sense of reality. And this sense of reality did not come so much from observation of the experience of others removed from himself, as from his own experience.
Such speculations, however, added little to my understanding of Sensei. Sensei, as a matter of fact, had already given me reason to believe that his thoughts were indeed forced upon him by the nature of his experience.
The fear within me, nevertheless, was very real. I tried to explain to myself Sensei's view of life by imagining a love affair in his youth--between Sensei and his wife, of course--involving violent passion at first, and perhaps regret later. Such an explanation, I liked to think, would more or less take into account the association in Sensei's mind of guilt with love.
Sensei, however, had admitted to me that he was still in love with his wife. The cause of Sensei's pessimism, then, could not reasonably be traced to their relationship with each other. It seemed that Sensei's misanthropic views which he had expressed to me applied to the modern world in general, but not to his wife. Preview Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Notes 1. Edwin McClellan London, . Google Scholar 2. CrossRef Google Scholar 3. Google Scholar 4. CrossRef Google Scholar 5.
Google Scholar 6. Doris G. Google Scholar 7. Google Scholar 9. This paragraph is based upon Gregory M.