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This English translation of 坊っちゃん (1906) was published in Tokyo by Ogawa Seibundo in 1918. It is a first-person narrative of a young man’s two-month tenure as assistant mathematics teacher at a provincial middle school in 1890s Japan. A native son of Tokyo, with all its traits and prejudices, he finds life in a narrow country town unappealing — with its dull and mischievous students, scheming faculty, bland diets, stifling rules, and gossipy inhabitants. Impulsive, combative, committed to strict ideals of honesty, honor, and justice, he is quickly enmeshed in the strategems of the head teacher, “Red Shirt.” His sufferings and confusion continue to mount until finally he and fellow-teacher “Porcupine” are able to deliver a “heavenly chastisement” and escape the island, back to his one emotional attachment, Kiyo, the old family retainer.
Natsume Kinnosuke (1867-1916) signed his work Sōseke — “stubborn.” Like the narrator of Botchan, he was a city-born Tokyo-ite, who found himself teaching middle school in remote Matsuyama in Shikoku in 1895. He emerged to study English literature in London, become Professor at Tokyo Imperial University, and a successful novelist, beginning with the popular I Am a Cat in 1905.
ISBN 978-1-60962-222-0 (ebook)
Japanese novels, Japanese fiction, Japanese literature, middle school, Shikoku, Matsuyama
Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | East Asian Languages and Societies | Fiction | Japanese Studies
Sōseke, Natsume and Morri, Yasotaro , trans., "Botchan" (2022). Zea E-Books Collection. 113.