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Novelist Natsume Soseki is the influential figure behind such Japanese classics as “Kokoro,” “Botchan” and “I Am a Cat,” and a recent study of his literary and theoretical works feels fresh and timely as a reflection of not only the author’s time but our own.

In “A Fictional Commons: Natsume Soseki and the Properties of Modern Literature,” scholar Michael Bourdaghs traces how Soseki (1867-1916) reconfigures the idea of humanity’s “commons” — how we divide up our common land and resources as a community. Bourdaghs argues that Soseki imagines, both in his fiction and his literary theory, a different kind of economy and a different way of sharing and belonging within a society as an alternative to what was becoming the economic norm — capitalism.

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