Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Displaced Nation

I was alerted yesterday to a great blog on Soseki's ex-pat experience in London on the website The Displaced Nation which you can read here:

It's really gratifying when you come across thoughtful blogs like this and are reminded just how many inquisitive readers there are out there.

It can sometimes be a somewhat dis-spiriting experience to realize that six years after The Tower of London: Tales of Victorian London was published, it is still lucky if it breaks into the top million (!) of 'best-selling' books on American Amazon and that not a single review has been posted on that site. (Actually, there is one review, but it relates to the abysmal, botched translation of the 'Tower of London' story from twenty years ago). Jay Rubin, the translator of Soseki and Murakami, remarked to me a few years back that a book on Soseki on London was a very odd way to relaunch Soseki as it would only appeal to a narrow British audience and I often fear he has been proved right. No matter that the story of Soseki in London is of incredible importance to the whole surge of masterpieces that would pour forth from Soseki's pen after returning to Japan. Whisper it quietly, but it is Soseki's nervous breakdown in London that is the defining moment of twentieth century literature and the Sosekian literary revolution starts there. Sadly however, it seems that American readers in particular just don't 'get it'.

But then, just when you think that you might as well be talking to yourself, up pops a blog or two, seemingly out of nowhere, that shows you that there are fantastically insightful people out there. Given the narrow interests of the review pages in the Western press, you can only really conclude that the future of diverse, original comment lies in the blogosphere. In this context, I must extend a belated thanks to those people who have posted some great blogs on some of the recent Soseki books.

Thanks very much to you all. My only further request can be that some brave soul actually posts a decent review on American Amazon!

By the way, also worthy of note is this very cute film on Youtube touching on Soseki and 'The Tower of London' by promising talent Ai Nishiyama:

And one final thing: I am now on Twitter (@DamianFlanagan), so please come on board and follow me there.