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Natsume Sōseki 夏目 漱石 (1867-1916)

Natsume Soseki

One of the most famous novelist and essayist of the Meiji era. Author of 14 novels, Natsume Soseki combined Western psychology with Japanese tradition. His most famous works are Kokoro, I Am a Cat and Botchan.

Born in a minor samurai family of Edo as Natsume Kinnosuke, he was the last of six children. At the age of 2, he was placed in the Siobara family to relieve his parents from the burden of an unwanted child.

After studying English and Chinese at school, he entered Tokyo Imperial University in 1890 and majored in English three years later. In 1895, he started teaching at a middle school in Ehime prefecture in Shikoku, on which experience his novel Botchan is based.

In 1900, he obtained a government scholarship to study in England. After 3 unhappy, lonely years, spent mostly indoors buried in books, he returned to Japan and suceeded Irish-American writer Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) as English literature professor at Tokyo Imperial University.

In 1907, he retired from his university position and started working as an editor for the Asahi Shimbun

Natsume Soseki figured on the 1,000 yen bank notes from 1984 to 2004 (then was replaced by Noguchi Hideyo).

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