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on 29 May 2008
I came accross this book after having read a diverse range of Japanese fiction previously, I am also interested in the mysterious areas of London so this seemed like a good choice.
From the small extracts scattered through these pages I find it strange that Soseki is virtually unknown in the West. Obviously there will be some elements lost in translation but its not difficult to see why he is so highly regarded in Japan.
Soseki spent two years in London studying English Literature, this book is a compendium of various writing and letters he completed during and after his stay. Lack of social contact and his obvious alienation in a land unused to Japanese led to some wonderful work. Seeing turn of the century London through the eyes of such a gifted writer is compelling and rewarding in equal measure. The descriptions are infused with a deep fascination for history, I cannot remember reading something which captures space and time in such a unique way.
I look forward to reading some fiction from Soseki and hopefully we will be able to find him on more bookshop shelves in England.
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on 28 May 2012
This is not really a collection of short stories in the conventional sense. The first part is a memoir of Soseki's time in London. The whole book is a miscellany of writings over Soseki's life that relate to England.

I got the book after Murakami claimed Soseki was Japan's greatest writer of short stories (incidentally in an introduction to Akutagawa's Rashomon, which is a MUST READ for the first two stories alone and which form the basis for the acclaimed film Rashomon)

'The Tower' is very good writing - and historically fascinating - but not quite what I was expecting. However, I did receive this gem of wisdom, which could apply to so much in life: never visit the Tower of London more than once ... repeated visits can only be disappointing. Actually, this advice could apply to this book; I think I will have to find something else to read by Soseki.
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