2007 has definitely NOT been a good year in books thus far. >_<Sôseki, Natsume. The 210th Day. Trans. Sammy I. Tsunematsu. Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2002. Summary
: Originally titled Nihyaku Tooka
. Good friends Kei and Roku decide to climb Mount Aso, but a storm, traditionally associated with the 210th day of the lunar calendar, forces them to turn back. Along the way, however, they discuss Kei's progressive politics and his tofu seller father. Comments
: Sôseki Natsume, most famous for Kokoro
, is quite arguably Japan's most important Meiji Period fiction writer, and The 210th Day
has got to be his least important literary endeavor. The friends never it make it to the top of the volcano, and, likewise, this novel has very little point or definite trajectory. It experiments with an amalgamation of both Eastern and Western themes and writing styles and the way in which Japan was Westernizing at the turn of the 20th century--but, again, it never quite achieves the pinnacle of any sort of conclusion. In the end, the characters agree to try one more someday and leave the looming social strife (which Kei expounds upon in detail) and pressures of modernization that lead inevitably to Japan's Showa Period imperial aggression for another day.
Unfortunately, Tsunematsu's translation does little to improve the reading experience. It is a literal translation--over-literal and awkward--more like a gloss than an attempt to recreate classic literature. It's quite possible, in fact, that he is not a native speaker; the text is stilted and downright unnatural in places. So, suffice it to say that anyone here for highbrow entertainment should look elsewhere. This novella would be a chore if it weren't so short and so pointless. Notes
: trade paperback, first Tuttle edition, 1st printing; first published in Japan in 1915 Rating
- The characters defer their climb for another day, and I suggest you do the same with your reading of this aborted literary experiment.