Botchan

Botchan
Master Darling

By

1
(1 Review)
Botchan by Soseki Natsume

Published:

1919

Pages:

122

Downloads:

1,899

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Botchan
Master Darling

By

1
(1 Review)
Translated by Yasotaro Morri, it is considered to be one of the most popular novels in Japan, read by most Japanese during their childhood. The central theme of the story is morality.

Book Excerpt

w it. I confess I was really glad of the money. I put it in a bag, and carried it in my pocket. While about the house, I happened to drop the bag into a cesspool. Helpless, I told Kiyo how I had lost the money, and at once she fetched a bamboo stick, and said she will get it for me. After a while I heard a splashing sound of water about our family well, and going there, saw Kiyo washing the bag strung on the end of the stick. I opened the bag and found the edict of the three one-yen bills turned to faint yellow and designs fading. Kiyo dried them at an open fire and handed them over to me, asking if they were all right. I smelled them and said; "They stink yet."

"Give them to me; I'll get them changed." She took those three bills, and,--I do not know how she went about it,--brought three yen in silver. I forget now upon what I spent the three yen. "I'll pay you back soon," I said at the time, but didn't. I could not now pay it back even if I wished to do so with ten times the amount.

When Kiyo gave me a

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This novel was the first in Japanese literature to use street slang. It concerns a Tokyo guy (a Yedo boy) who graduates school and takes a job teaching math in a provincial middle school. He is taunted by the students and immediately runs into conflict with the other teachers on the faculty. Some of it is mildly amusing, but there is a problem with the translation.

The translation into English also uses English slang--from the beginning of the 20th century. The problem is that most of that slang makes no sense to current readers. For instance, "He's a mollycoddle," or "They're getting too gay with me."

Also, things that would be helpful to western readers are left out. In one episode the hero kills grasshopers left in his bed by hitting them with his pillow. That seemed ineffective to me until I remembered (much later) that Japanese pillows are wooden.

Overall, the book is too confusing to allow a modern English reader to be able to read it right through without stopping somewhere on almost every page to say, "huh?"
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