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Synopsis

Published here for the first time in English, My Individualism and The Philosophical Foundations of Literature are essays which explore issues close to famed Japanese novelist Soseki Natsume's heart: the philosophical and cultural significance of isolation, belonging and identity associated with rapid technological, industrial and cultural change. Set against the background of the Meiji era, in which Soseki believed modern man was dislocated from Japan's past as well as its future, he defines the role of art and the artist in light of the loneliness and individualism of the modern world.

True to his self-conscious style, each essay includes individual biographical anecdotes, inviting their allegorical reading as stories about the fate of Japan. In My Individualism, Soseki gives a rare account of his stay in London from the perspective of twelve years after his return, allowing us to see the profound shift in his thinking about literature that occurred during this time. In The Philosophical Foundations of Literature, we find one of Soseki's principal attempts to provide a cross-cultural framework for the interpretation of literature. Together, the essays reveal Soseki's attempts to create a theory of literature that is characteristically Japanese.

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