27 January 2008

Sōseki Natsume, The 210th Day, 1915

Two old friends, Kei and Roku, decide to walk up Mount Aso, a rumbling volcano that is actively spitting out smoke and dust. It’s nothing more than a slightly mad and comic adventure, and one that offers no point other than to provide the lively exchanges of banter as they cajole each other into not chickening out. Sōseki was a giant of Japanese literature, in his time of the same stature as Dickens in England, and of his fourteen novels only a handful are currently in print in English of which this is an entirely new addition. The 210th Day is considered a rather slight work for him, being composed almost entirely of fast and snappy dialogue, but that’s also precisely why it’s so vital and engaging. Very enjoyable.  PY

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