The Miner



Natsume Sōseki

First Sentence:     Been walking and walking through this band of pine trees.

Back of the book:

The Miner is the most daringly experimental and least well-known novel of the great Meiji writer Natsume Sōseki. An absurdist tale about the indeterminate nature of human personality, written in 1908, it was in many ways a precursor to the work of Joyce and Beckett.

The narrative unfolds within the mind of an unnamed protagonist-narrator, a young man caught in a love triangle who flees Tokyo, is picked up by a procurer of cheap labour for a copper mine, then travels toward and inside the depths of the mine, in search of oblivion. As he delves, the young man reflects at length on nearly every thought and perception he experiences along the way.

His conclusion? That there is no such thing as human character. The result is a novel that is both absurd and comical, and a true modernist classic.

Quote from the book:

[…] if you can cry, you’ve got nothing to worry about. As long as you have tears to shed, you can certainly still laugh.

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Last Sentence:     And every bit of it is true, which you can tell from the fact that this book never did turn into a novel.