Far East Educational Experience

In the ‘Education in Literature Collection’ there are several novels which portray different aspects of the educational experience in Japan.

Botchan by Natsume Soseki (1906). Translated by Joel Cohn 2005. The first-person narrator is proud of growing up in Tokyo where he graduates from the Tokyo Academy of Physics. He takes a job teaching mathematics in Matsuyam on the island of Shikohu. There he runs into difficulties which are mainly the result of his own personality. Ultimately he tries to do the right thing.

Natsume Soseki (1867-1916)was a Japanese novelist of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). He was also a scholar of British Literature and a composer of haiku, kenshi and fairy tales. In 1900 the Japanese government sent him to study in England as ‘Japan’s first Japanese English literary scholar.’ He spent two years at UCL.

A Rabbit’s Eyes (Usagi no me (1974)) by  Kenjuro Haitani (1934-2006), translated by Paul Sminkey (2005). A touching novel about a first-year elementary school teacher and her tough class of outcasts, and the eventual reward for her belief in them. Set in the city of Kobe.

The Housekeeper and the Professor (2003) by Yoko Ogawa (1962- ),translated by Stephen Snyder (2008). A famous professor of mathematics develops a relationship with his housekeeper and her son. Difficulties arise because he only has eighty minutes of memory after suffering brain damage as a result of a car accident. Filmed as ‘The Professor’s Beloved Equation’ (2006),directed by Takashi Koizumi.

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