This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Saturday Rave: Natsume Sōseki

Natsume Sōseki is recognised as perhaps Japan's greatest modern writer (though not that modern: he was born in 1867 and died in 1916).

Natsume Sōseki was born Natsume Kin'nosuke, the last child in a family of six children, very much an after-thought, and very much resented by his parents. In fact he was given in adoption as a baby by a childless couple, who looked after him until they divorced when Sōseki was nine. He was then returned to his family, but the death of his mother and two of his brothers soon afterwards made home life very unhappy, as did his family's disapproval of his ambition to become a writer.

When the young man did start to write, at college, he began to use the name Sōseki, which is a Chinese word implying stubborn. (NB: this is the one and only personal characteristic every writer definitely needs to have).

Sōseki spent a couple of very unhappy years in England as a student, but otherwise he lived all his life in Japan. He wrote poetry, novels, and short stories, and he has now reached such a level of respect and fame that he has featured on a Japanese bank note. 

Here's a haiku of Sōseki's - a suitably wintry one if you live in the Northern hemisphere (and most people do).

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.

I think it's wonderful.

Word To Use Today: stubborn. This word was stuborne in the 1300s, but no one is sure where it came from before that.

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