SOSEKI - THE GATE

stray thoughts

has chops like Kawabata but less striking and less frequent

a grab bag of themes: the encroaching timidity of adult life (enforced by family squabbles, financial troubles, workplace boredom, occasional spiritual yearning –> ‘Sosuke responded only with an “Oh, my!” here and an “Is-that-so?” there’)

themes

nature

‘As the leaves luxuriated in the autumn sunlight they drooped down heavily in silent clusters, not a single one stirring’ [6]

‘sometimes, as soon as they had gotten up, they excitedly counted the number of blossoms that had opened that day’ [83]

‘over the next hour, splashing light across the land, the sun rose boldly, unchallenged, into a blue sky’ [112]

city life

‘He was driven to the conclusion that while living in Tokyo he had never in fact seen Tokyo’[10]

‘they dwelled in the city as though living deep in the mountains’ [132] —> weirdly isolated lives in NYC [Franzen ‘Mr. Difficult’]

‘gazing down from some eminence at the congeries of the roof tiles stretching out for miles in all directions under the blazing sun…each and every detail of this dizzying panorama assailed his senses with a force that drummed into his head the word, “Mag-nif-i-cent!”’ [137]

social isolation

‘constrained to walk in lockstep…they abandoned their parents…such was the path shared by Sosuke and Oyone’ [150]

‘Under the sun the couple presented smiles to the world; under the moon they were lost in thought’ [151]

‘He was someone destined neither to pass through the gate nor to be satisfied with never having passed through it. He was on of those unfortunate souls fated to stand in the gate’s shadow, frozen in his tracks, until the day was done’ [203]

plot

the veranda in spring - Sosuke’s hinted-at university misadventure in Kyoto - parents’ death - uncle mismanages parents’ money meant to care for younger brother Koroku - successful art dealer neighbor Sakai takes on Koroku - Sosuke visits monastery to escape life in Tokyo - the veranda in spring, life continues/repeats

📝 Kyoto scandal in uni handled w/ a delicacy belying historical gap btw present-day reader and 1910 (presumably, a century back = eloping was more scandalous)