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the Complete Review
the complete review - autobiographical

     

Inside my Glass Doors

by
Natsume Sōseki


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Inside my Glass Doors



Title: Inside my Glass Doors
Author: Natsume Sōseki
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 1915 (Eng. 2002)
Length: 127 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Inside my Glass Doors - US
Inside my Glass Doors - UK
Inside my Glass Doors - Canada
Inside my Glass Doors - India
À travers la vitre - France
Hinter der Glastür - Deutschland
  • Japanese title: 硝子戸の中
  • Translated by Sammy I. Tsunematsu
  • With 17 photographs
  • With an Introduction by Marvin Marcus

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Our Assessment:

B : decent if thin volume of reminiscences

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
NZZ . 1/3/2012 Daniela Tan


  From the Reviews:
  • "Der erfahrene Soseki-Übersetzer Christoph Langemann geht behutsam und sprachnah an den Text heran und lässt den Leser teilhaben an der atmosphärischen Sprache des Originals. In einem Zustand der kontemplativen Musse ziehen in loser Abfolge Episoden aus dem Leben eines Intellektuellen, Kindheitserinnerungen und Reflexionen über das Sein vorbei." - Daniela Tan, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Inside my Glass Doors is an odd sort of selection of scenes from a life. In thirty-nine short essays Natsume presents a variety of reminiscences, from recent encounters with readers and fans to episodes and memories from long ago. It does not make for a full portrait of the author (or reveal a great deal of personal detail), but does give a sense of the man late in his too-short life (he died a year later).
       Melancholy and death are, if not pervasive at least prevalent -- though there's not too much nostalgia. (Among the later pieces are descriptions of his early childhood, which help explain why the latter is missing.) Natsume is also not one to try to make more out of things than is manifestly there, warning his readers in the first paragraph that the actual view from his glass doors is: "remarkably monotonous -- and remarkably limited."
       He's aware that his frame of mind affects how he sees past and present, and his description is certainly also meant as a warning to the reader how to take the text:

     My memories of my house are generally of a rustic nature. They also include a touch of desolation and melancholy, to such an extent that the other day, when my only surviving brother reminded me of the time when our sisters used to go to the theatre, I was stupefied at the idea that there could have been a period when we really led such a dazzling life. I really thought I must be dreaming.
       Despite death cropping up so often, Natsume's attitude is one more of not-quite-satisfied resignation rather than depressed doom and gloom.
       The essays are generally fairly interesting (and elegantly and quickly related), with some episodes related across more than one, though there's not much connexion otherwise among them. From the dramatic -- the time masked bandits robbed the house ! -- to his sense of honour regarding money issues (a small amount given him in gratitude for giving a lecture which upsets him terribly, or the time he bought a book as child which was obtained from someone who didn't have the right to dispose of it) there are interesting titbits here. There are also a few revealing details about Natsume himself, such as that he is baffled by Kabuki (and wary of theatre in general, admitting that: "I am terrified at the idea of being tricked into shedding tears.")
       Inside my Glass Doors is a small collection, perhaps of greatest interest to those more familiar with Natsume's work -- but it's not a bad introduction to it, giving a good sense of the man and his writing.

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Links:

Inside my Glass Doors: Reviews: Natsume Sōseki: Other books by Natsume Sōseki under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Natsume Sōseki (夏目 漱石;actually: Natsume Kinnosuke) lived 1867 to 1916 and was the leading Japanese author of the Meiji era.

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