25 February, 2012
Perhaps because Alain-Fournier died in action in WWI this, his only novel, is lauded in France. I might have enjoyed it more as a 12 year old. Perhaps then I could have put up with the absurd coincidences, obsessions, unrequited passions and self-defeating decisions surrounding Augustin Meaulnes. I get that this book speaks of the lost idealism of youth and that in post WWI France this would certainly have struck a chord, but there was just too much else besides in this convoluted plot. One for the young and yearning, not the old and cynical.
11 February, 2012
I suspect you need to be Japanese to really understand the nuances of this novel. Narrated by a young university student, Kokoro tells the story of an older man who feels compelled to face the wrongs he thinks he has committed in his life. The inter-generational conflict between old and new values is at play throughout this work, mirroring the emergence of Japan from isolationism during the Meiji Restoration. Now I like to think of myself as one who can handle a slow, deep novel, but this really is ponderous. Honestly, it's like a never-ending tea ceremony.