Light and Darkness/Soseki Natsume

Light and Darkness book cover and illustration Soseki Natsume

Many people imagine the ending after reading!

Light and Darkness, Japanese title is Meian, is Japanese famous novel written by Soseki Natsume in 1916. It is known as Soseki's final and unfinished novel. It runs to about 600 pages though it is an unfinished novel. This novel is centered on the egoism through marital relationship. The main character is Tsuda, his wife O-Nobu and his former lover Kiyoko. They are in a love triangle.

The relationship and talking between Tsuda and his friend "Kobayashi" also hold some position. Kobayashi points out Tsuda's arrogance sometimes though he feels inferior to university graduates and money. Tsuda looks down Kobayashi because of his ignorance and poverty, but he gets a new perspective through Kobayashi.

For example, Tsuda knows disparity of wealth through Kobayashi and his acquaintance. Tsuda feels disparity of wealth is not an entirely unrealistic fact. This novel asks readers about diversity and various sense of values based on egoism through characters. Soseki maybe thought a mind is free and is changing with time.

On the other hand, the point of this novel is also psyops battle consisting the clash of each character's ego. The psyops is not only between Tsuda and O-Nobu but also between Tsuda and other woman. Women in this novel have various emotions, vanity, stubbornness, jealousy, envy and more. In addition, some three-cornered psyops battle is written with so much presence. Their emotions and finding out each other's real intentions convey to readers.

By the way, an odd man who has wthite beard appears when Tsuda talks with waitress at a ryokan(Japanese traditional inn). An odd man says he comes there for hot spring cure, that is not strange. However, he is premonition of tragedy for readers because his job is writing epitaph. Meian becomes an unfinished novel after this character appears because of Soseki's death.

Many people imagine Meian's ending after reading. If you are curious about ending, you should read Zoku-Meian(Zoku means sequel). This novel written by Minae Mizumura won Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs award in 1990.