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Botchan: A Modern Classic [Hardcover]

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Item description for Botchan: A Modern Classic by J. Cohn Natsume Soseki...

Botchan, is a hilarious tale about a young man's rebellion against "the system" in a country school. It is a classic in Japan and has occupied a position of great importance in the canon of Japanese literature, one vaguely analogous to Huckleberry Finn or The Catcher in the Rye in American culture. The setting is Japan's deep south, where the author himself spent four years teaching English in a middle school. Into this conservative world, with its social proprieties and established pecking order, breezes Botchan, down from the big city, with scant respect for either his elders or his noisy young charges. The result is a chain of collisions large and small.
Most of the story occurs in summer, against the drone of cicadas and the sting of mosquitoes, and in every way this is a summer book-light, sunny, and fun to read. Here, in a lively new translation, Botchan should continue to entertain even those who have never been near the sunlit island on which these calamitous episodes take place.
In this third English translation, J. Cohen captures the fluid, oral quality and feisty, sometimes brusque tone of the Japanese original.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.7" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 13, 2005
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770021224  
ISBN13  9784770021229  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Botchan: A Modern Classic?

wiil remind readers of The Catcher in the Rye   Apr 1, 2007
In Japan Botchan grew up knowing his father thought he was a worthless wastrel; his mother, who died when he was young, expected him to be a failure; his effeminate older brother only hated him. He expected to be disinherited so nothing stood in his way to dare to defy the restrictive demands of the social order except perhaps the housekeeper Kiyo who loves him like the way a mother does by cherishing their offspring.

However shocking all the nay-sayers, Botchan actually graduates from the university although his dad was dead before he could see this unlikely miracle occur. He accepts a job teaching math somewhere in remote Shikoku; a monster geographical change for an urban dweller like him. Botchan quickly assumes these rubes are beneath his intelligence especially because of his big city lifestyle where he learned true survival skills. He treats students, peers, superiors, parents, and other locals as inferior beings giving each a derogatory nickname and making it doubtful that the cause of this class warfare will survive a year of rustification.

This Japanese version will remind readers of The Catcher in the Rye (perhaps a better way to look at this is The Catcher in the Rye is an Americanized version of Botchan as the Japanese classic was written over four decades earlier than Salinger's novel). This insightful classic provides a deep look at Japanese society circa 1906. The story line is a one sitting fast read as the lead character mocks everyone causing universal disdain. Readers enjoy this superb amusing translation that provides a powerful glimpse at Japanese customs through the actions of and reactions towards an arrogant antagonist.

Harriet Klausner
Umeji Saski's translation is absolutely horrible  Dec 22, 2006
I am a professional translator, and have read many novels by Natsume Soseki. This is the first (and last) translated by Umeji Saski. It is from 1922 and is PAINFUL to read. An example: "Will that do? Yes; but it makes me too much trouble," thought I. Is there not something which coming out so smoothly gives me no pains and yet makes Kiyo happy to read?"

Many of the other comments on this book must be about the original or about one of the other translations available. Unfortunately, this was the only translation available at my library.
An Honest Soul in a Dishonest Place  Oct 6, 2006
"Botchan" is named for the main character of the book, a school teacher who accepts a job in a country side town teaching a bunch of teenagers. Botchan's encounters with the people around him produce some interesting escapades and results, all very amusing and humorous.

A lot of the humour is carried in the names that Botchan assigns the different people around him. Those with little knowledge of Japanese meanings for names will still be ok, as the Introduction provides an adequate explanation for us. The vice principal is called "Badger" by Botchan, and the name fits the character like a glove. Other names are equally suitable, as is even Botchan's. Botchan's very direct and openly honest approach is certainly out of step with those around him

The translation has been executed exceptionally well, and hangs together as if the book had been written by a native-speaker of English. There are only a couple of points at which I noticed something unusual about the language. Overall, the English is contemporary and very well written.

"Botchan" is simply just good fun to read, though it also serves as an indictment on the attitudes and world in which Soseki lived. Some of those criticisms that Botchan levels at people would still apply equally well today.

This book is definitely a little different, but it has a lot to offer. I enjoyed it all the way through, and had a good giggle in places.
Great fun  Apr 16, 2006
A simply marvelous book. A great introduction to a masterful writer.

The Cohn translation is a much easier read than the Saski. His language is much more natural and more accessible to American readers.
the most famous didactic novel  Feb 28, 2006
Natsume Souseki(1867-1916. His real name is Natsume Kinnosuke. Natsume is his family name. Kinnosuke is his personal name) is
the most popular novelist in Japan. Almost all Japanese people
love him because he and his novels have a strong sense of justice and morals.

And We Japanese all know this novel(at least its title).

The plot of this novel is simple and straightforward.
The hero in this novel has a strong sense of justice.

It's attractive. Strong Buy!

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