Damian Flanagan Title: Damian Flanagan
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Translation The Tower of LondonNatsume Soseki
Introductions The Three Cornered World (Kusamakura) - Natsume Soseki
The Gate - Natsume Soseki
Kokoro - Natsume Soseki 
Scandal - Shusaku Endo
Criticism    Critical Lives: Mishima
The Natsume Soseki the Japanese Don't know (In Japanese only)
Natsume Soseki: Superstar of World Literature (In Japanese only)
Articles

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The Tower of London
Natsume Soseki

Translated and introduced by Damian Flanagan
Published by Peter Owen

Click here for an introduction to the book. 
(Transcript from BBC radio.)

‘The curtain veiling the mysterious things called the past rending itself in two and reflecting ghostly light over the twentieth century is the Tower of London.’

In October 1900, a brilliant but largely unknown Japanese scholar arrived in London to commence two years of intense study. The scholar would later become the most celebrated Japanese writer of all time, Natsume Soseki, and produce a dazzling collection of novels, memoirs, criticism and short stories that form the bedrock of modern Japanese literature.

The spectacle of a Japanese visitor to Victorian London was a rare one, and Soseki’s acute observations contain unique snapshots of London life.

(Click here for an excerpt from the book: 'Lodgings'.)

Against the backdrop of these images, Soseki develops profound reflections on universal themes. The river Thames is transformed into the river Styx; the Tower of London becomes a gateway to the Underworld; mysterious boarding houses and the spirits of the dead are encountered through relics and memoir; time itself is regained and explored.

This new translation provides the perfect introduction to the work of one of the world’s greatest authors, accompanied for the first time with a comprehensive critical introduction, and a wry fictional account of a meeting between Soseki and Sherlock Holmes.

Click here for Damian Flanagan's speech at the book's launch
The speech is not only a thorough introduction to the book, but also explains the background of its publication whilst contextualising Natsume Soseki in the annals of world literature.

‘We know little about the literary baggage that informs Japanese preconceptions of Britain. It’s rather a shock to discover that the most familiar and most compelling is a vision of Victorian London at the turn of the 20th century by a young Japanese scholar, one of Japan’s most famous modern writers, who lived for two years in boarding houses and met almost no one. The Dickensian London he brilliantly describes is so close to virtual reality that in one short story Soseki himself meets Sherlock Holmes.’ – The Times

‘Scrupulously and enthusiastically introduced and annotated’ – Anthony Thwaite, Sunday Telegraph

'What makes this collection so fascinating is that Soseki viewed England as much from the viewpoint of an anthropologist as from that of a creative writer . . . one is never in doubt that one is in the presence of greatness. The translator, Damian Flanagan, has provided an excellent introduction and ample notes. I have always thought that of all English novelists it is E. M. Forster that Soseki most resembles. Flanagan, whether deliberately or not, catches Forster’s authorial tone with uncanny accuracy.' – Spectator 
Available through Amazon.co.uk

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The Three Cornered World
Natsume Soseki

Translated by Alan Turney

Introduced by Damian Flanagan
Published by Peter Owen

Opening with the most famous introductory lines in Japanese literature, The Three Cornered World has been cherished by generations of readers as a glittering jewel in the crown of Soseki s artistic achievement. 

A painter escapes to a mountain spa to work in a world free of emotional entanglement, but finds himself fascinated by the alluring mistress at his inn and, inspired by thoughts of Millais Ophelia, he imagines painting her. The woman is rumoured to have abandoned her husband and fallen in love with a priest at a nearby temple, but somehow the right expression for the face on her painting eludes the artist . . . 

Beautifully written, humorous and filled with bitter-sweet reflections on the human condition, The Three Cornered World was intended as a unique haiku-novel with a mood utterly different to anything ever produced in the West. Demonstrating along the way a mastery of everything from Western painting to Chinese literature, Soseki succeeded in an artistic tour-de-force that produced what legendary recording artist Glenn Gould would simply refer to as his favourite book.

Vastly refreshing . . . Soseki doesn t shrink from seeking and finding exquisite pearls of beauty. --Guardian

A writer to be judged by the highest standards. His works create, after the fashion of all great writers, a new and completely individual reality. --Spectator

The greatest Japanese novelist of the modern period --Sunday Telegraph

A writer to be judged by the highest standards. His works create, after the fashion of all great writers, a new and completely individual reality. --Spectator

The greatest Japanese novelist of the modern period --Sunday Telegraph

Available through Amazon.co.uk


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The Gate

Natsume Soseki

Translated by Francis Mathy

With a new introduction by Damian Flanagan

Published by Peter Owen

One of the central masterpieces of twentieth-century Japanese literature, The Gate describes the everyday world of the humble clerk Sosuke and his wife Oyone, living in quiet obscurity in a house at the bottom of a cliff.

Seemingly cursed with the inability to have children, the couple find themselves having to take responsibility for Sosuke’s younger brother Koroku. Oyone’s health begins to fail, and news that Oyone’s estranged ex-husband Yasui will be visiting nearby finally promotes a sense of crisis in Sosuke and forces him temporarily to quit his life of quiet domesticity.

Highly prized for the beauty of its description of the understated love between Sosuke and Oyone, the novel has nevertheless remained in many ways mysterious. An analysis of the novel here by Dr Damian Flanagan casts fresh insights into its complex symbolism and ideas, establishing The Gate as one of the most profound works of the modern age.

The Gate (previously published as Mon) follows the publication of an important new translation of Soseki’s The Tower of London. Published in cooperation with the Japan Foundation and the Sasakawa Foundation, it is part of an international programme to bring one of Japan’s most popular author to a new international audience.

A sensitive, skilfully written novel by the most widely read Japanese author of modern times.’ – Guardian

Soseki’s prose is so delicate that each page is like looking at a set of dreamy watercolours.’ – Sunday Telegraph

The Gate is not so much tragic or comic as a graceful balance between the dispiriting and the humorous . . . The Gate is surely the kind of writing we need – a masterpiece of taste and clarity. Francis Mathy’s translation must be warmly commended.’ – New Statesman

Available through Amazon.co.uk

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Kokoro
Natsume Soseki
Translated by Edwin McClellan
With a new introduction by Damian Flanagan

Published by Peter Owen

Damian Flanagan says in his new critical introduction "Kokoro" is the Soseki novel that has been given most attention by critics and the public in Japan. On one level, a meditation on the changing face of Japanese culture and its attitudes to honour, friendship, love, death, it is also a sly subversion of all of these things.

The novel centres around the friendship between the narrator and the man he calls Sensei, who is haunted by mysterious events in his past. As the friendship grows and the narrator gets to know more about the man he so admires he is increasingly intrigued by this hidden history. The Sensei, however, refuses to reveal anything until the third part of the book when the narrator is called away to look after his sick father and the truth is revealed in tragic circumstances, etching itself onto the narrator - and the reader's - "Kokoro" : Heart.

Natsume Soseki's importance to Japanese literature can be compared to that of Dickens to Britain or Henry James to America. Like these writers, his work now holds a hugely popular and important place in the literary imagination of his country. Unlike them, his work is only recently coming to the attention of readers from overseas.



Available through Amazon.co.uk

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Scandal
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Scandal
Shusaku Endo   
Translated from the Japanese by Van C. Gessel
Published by Peter Owen

Suguro is an eminent Catholic novelist, about to receive a major literary award. So when a drunk woman he has never met before approaches him at the award ceremony, claiming she knows him well from his regular visits to Tokyo’s red-light district, she must surely be mistaken?

But with a scurrilous press campaign damaging Suguro’s reputation, his sleazy doppelgänger appears more and more, as if deliberately trying to discredit him. He is sighted touring the love hotels and brothels of Shinjuku; a leering portrait of him appears in an exhibition — and Suguro is forced to undertake a journey into Tokyo’s seedy heart in order to discover the dreadful truth.

Well known for his novel Silence, which is to be filmed by Martin Scorsese, Endo here abandons his characteristic understated style in order to write a dark metaphysical and psychological thriller that is reckoned to be one of his best — and most original — works.

WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY DAMIAN FLANAGAN

‘Endo’s most remarkable novel . . . a superb dramatic triumph, a perfect plaiting of strands into a single, most delicate crowned knot.’ — Independent

‘A remarkable work . . . Endo is one of the best novelists in the world.’ — Francis King, Spectator

‘Endo is a great thriller writer . . . Spine-chilling, erotic, cruel, full of intellectual games . . . very powerful.’ — Sunday Telegraph

‘Scandal is a subtle, eerie and fascinating book by a writer of rare perception and disquieting honesty.’ — John Walsh, London Evening Standard

SHUSAKU ENDO is widely regarded as one of the greatest Japanese authors of the late twentieth century. Born in 1923, he won many major literary awards and was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times. His novels, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages, include The Sea and Poison, Wonderful Fool, Deep River and Silence. He died in 1996.
 
Available through Amazon.co.uk

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Mishima


Mishima

Yukio Mishima
Damian Flanagan
 
In 1970 Yukio Mishima shocked the world with a bizarre attempt at a coup d’état, ending in his spectacular suicide by ritual disembowelment. Why?

Mishima was the most internationally acclaimed Japanese author of the twentieth century: prodigiously talented, dazzlingly prolific and a prime candidate for the Nobel Prize. In his radically new analysis of an extraordinary life, Damian Flanagan moves away from the stereotypical depiction of Mishima as a right-wing nationalist and aesthete and presents him as a man utterly obsessed with time, time-keeping devices and symbols, arguing that this compulsion was at the heart of the author’s literature and life.

This book untangles the frequent distortions in the writer’s memoirs, which have often been taken at face value, and traces the evolution of Mishima’s attempts to master and transform both his sexuality and artistic persona. Though often perceived as a solitary protest figure, this book shows how Mishima was very much in tune with post-war culture: taking up bodybuilding and becoming a model and actor in the 1950s; adopting the themes of contemporary political scandals in his work; courting English translators and even becoming influenced by the student protests and hippy subculture of the late 1960s.

Yet while being in thrall to the modern world, the flip side of Mishima’s personality – his hidden neuroses and the traumas of his youth – continually pushed him towards a firm rejection of modern Japan and his explosive final act of self-annihilation.

Reaktion Books

Critical Lives is a major series of short critical biographies that present the work of important cultural figures in the context of their lives. Each book relates and brings alive the life of the artist, writer, philosopher or architect in question and assesses their major works at the same time.
 


Mishima

Available through
Waterstones


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日 本人が知らない夏目漱石

(The Natsume Soseki the Japanese Don't Know)


Has Japan's greatest literary figure been misunderstood by the Japanese themselves?!

In this landmark study, Damian Flanagan provocatively argues that the 'King of the Novel' is not Joyce or Proust, Tolstoy or James, but none other than Natsume Soseki himself. By investigating the themes of such classic novels as 
SanshiroAnd ThenThe GateTo the Spring Equinox and Beyond and The Wayfarer, and explaining how Soseki was fundamentally influenced by figures as diverse as Nietzsche and the Pre-Raphaelites, an entirely new understanding of Soseki's dazzling literary career comes to light.

This book is only available in Japanese. 

Available through Amazon.co.jp

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世界文学のスーパースター夏目漱石
(Natsume Soseki: Superstar of World Literature) Damian Flanagan

Translated by Ono Akiko Published by Kodansha International

Damian Flanagan finds Japan's man of letters has a multitude of ideas relevant to navigating the vissitudes of life in the modern world. This is a self-help book with a difference - your tour guide is Natsume Soseki: Superstar of World Literature.

Available through Amazon.co.jp


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Damian is also the author of numerous articles and short pieces for magazines and newspapers in the UK. 

He also written for The Japan Times, the Asahi Shinbun and Kyoto Journal in Japan. The image on the left is an excerpt from The Tower of London commissioned by the Kyoto Journal.



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