Natsume, Sōseki (1867–1916) By Abel, Jonathan
Natsume Sōseki (b. Natsume Kinnosuke, generally referred to by his pen name Sōseki, adopted originally for signing his poetry) is commonly held to be the greatest modern Japanese novelist. An idiosyncratic man of letters, he was a path-breaking satirist and stylist, as well as a critic and scholar of English literature. Among the first Japanese writers to make a living solely by the sales of his own literary work, Sōseki occupied the ironic position of having become widely popular by writing about the extreme loneliness of the modern condition. His place in the Japanese canon has only grown since his death, with his works appearing in anthologies of modern literature and regularly listed in school curricula; his visage also appeared for decades on the 1,000 yen note.