We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is Soseki Natsume?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Soseki Natsume is one of the most highly regarded novelists of the Meiji Period in Japan. Born in Edo, now called Tokyo, in 1867, Soseki Natsume died in 1916 at the age of 49. Soseki Natsume became infatuated with Chinese literature and poetry in his school years, and these influences show in his writing, which has many uniquely Chinese qualities. Natsume Soseki spent most of his life as a scholar, studying the English language to proficiency and British literature. He did not begin writing full time until 1907.

Soseki Natsume was born Kinnosuke Natsume and began life as an unwanted child, the sixth of a minor and declining samurai family. His parents were older and not interested in raising a child, and they foisted the boy off on a household servant until the age of nine. When he returned to his family, his mother was eager to see him, but his father was relatively uninterested, and parent-child relationships were a theme Soseki Natsume explored in much of his later writing. His mother passed away when he was 14, and he turned to literature for solace.

Although Soseki Natsume wanted to be a writer, his family strongly disapproved, and when he entered Tokyo University in 1884, he intended to train as an architect. He decided to study English as well, because he thought it might further his career. However, in 1887, he met Masaoka Shiki, who encouraged him to pursue his dreams of becoming a writer. Soseki Natsume began using the name Soseki, a Chinese idiom meaning “stubborn,” at this time to sign his poetry, as he was defying his family. In 1890, he entered the Department of English at Tokyo University, rejecting his family's plans for him.

After his graduation in 1893, Soseki Natsume taught at several Japanese schools while publishing haiku and Chinese poetry in various newspapers. In 1896, he married Kyoko Nakane and settled with her in Kumamoto. In 1900, he won a grant from the Japanese government to study British literature and traveled to Britain, where he spent the two “most unpleasant years in my life.” He was unable to afford University fees in Britain and holed up in a variety of lodgings reading during his stay, leading his friends to think that he was losing his mind. When he returned to Japan, he became a professor of English literature at Tokyo Imperial University.

Soseki Natsume's first and probably most important work is I Am A Cat, which originally appeared as a short story from an alley cat's perspective in 1905. Readers acclaimed the work, and encouraged by its reception, Soseki Natsume expanded it into a full length book. Mr. Kushami, the cat's owner, is clearly a parody of Natsume himself. In 1907, Natsume abandoned his University post to write for Asahi Shimbum, a major Japanese paper, and began writing full time.

Soseki Natsume wrote a wide variety of novels dealing in a highly satirical style with various aspects of the human condition during the brief period of his life when his writing career flowered. They included Botchan (1906), Sanshiro (1908), And Then (1909), The Wayfarer (1912), and Inside My Glass Doors (1915). Natsume was a highly prolific writer, managing to pen 18 novels between 1905 and 1916, and dying with a 19th, Light and Darkness, unfinished in 1916.

Soseki Natsume's other most well known work is Kokoro (1914), an exploration of Japan after the decline of the Tokugawa Shogunate, with ambiguous and never fully formed characters. Kokoro is about love, betrayal, and ultimate suicide, and the book plays out like a delicate Chinese poem, unfurling in bits and pieces at a time. Many of Soseki Natsume's books deal with the themes of love, family, and confusion, suggesting that he may have lived a somewhat bitter life. His legacy to Japanese literature, however, is monumental, and most 20th century Japanese writers were heavily influenced by his work.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.