Biography of Natsume Soseki

Often considered the greatest writer in modern Japanese literature, Natsume Soseki is known for his novels such as Kokoro, Botchan, and I Am a Cat, as well as his position as a scholar of British literature. The years of his life almost the same as those of the Meiji period, in which Japan came into close contact with the West and underwent significant modernization, Natsume works focused on the psychological and ethical issues that the Japan of his time faced.

Born Natsume Kinnosuke in as the fifth child of a Tokyo family of administrators, Natsume was adopted into another family at the age of 2 but returned to his original family at age 8. Though he had a strong interest in classical Chinese literature, Natsume studied English at Tokyo Imperial University and then spent the years after his graduation teaching English at provincial secondary schools.

From 1900 until 1902, Soseki studied at University College London in England under a government grant, learning and researching English literature from renowned Shakespeare scholar William James Craig. After returning to Japan, he received a lectureship in English literature at Tokyo Imperial University and at the same time began his literary career with poetry contributions to literary magazines. His debut novel, I Am a Cat (1905), won him fame; he would follow up on this novel with Botchan (1906). In 1907 he left his university position to become the head of the literary department of the Asahi Shimbum newspaper, which would serialize the remaining novels he wrote. Two years after the end of the Meiji era, Natsume published Kokoro (1914), and in another two years he passed away from stomach cancer.  

Study Guides on Works by Natsume Soseki

Kokoro (こゝろ), written by the famous Japanese author Natsume Soseki, was published in serial form by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, for which he worked, in 1914. That year, two years had passed since the death of Emperor Meiji, under whose...