HIKAKU BUNGAKU Journal of Comparative Literature
Online ISSN : 2189-6844
Print ISSN : 0440-8039
ISSN-L : 0440-8039
Lilies in Sorekara (And Then) by Natsume Sōseki:
In Relation to Dora Thorne and Konjiki Yasha (The Golden Demon)
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2014 Volume 57 Pages 94-107


 Sorekara (And Then) by Natsume So-seki was published in the Asahi Shimbun in 1909. In this novel lilies appear as a symbol of the heroine, Michiyo. With the exception of several waka poems compiled in the 8th century Man’yōshū, however, lilies are not seen in traditional Japanese literature.

 In Meiji Era lilies reappeared in Ozaki Ko-yo-’s Konjiki yasha (The Golden Demon), which was written during 1897-1903. In the dream of her lover, the novel’s heroine, Miya, drowns and is transformed into a lily (yuri). Though the main original source, Weaker Than a Woman by Bertha M. Clay, does not include important descriptions of lilies, Dora Thorne, another novel by the same author, contains many meaningful scenes with lilies.

 In this paper, I discuss how Ko-yo- changed the meaning of lilies by drawing on an analysis of these scenes described above. While three kinds of lilies appear in Dora Thorne―lilies (yuri), lilies of the valley (suzuran), and water lilies (suiren)―Ko-yo-, who did not know the difference between them, was under the misconception that western lilies grew in the water or by the waterside. Because of this misunderstanding he made lilies symbols of rejected women like Ophelia in Hamlet, who drowns in the river.

 So-seki utilized this symbolism in Sorekara when the protagonist Daisuke puts lilies into the water of the vase. That act symbolizes Michiyo’s drowning, that is to say, the fact that he rejected Michiyo in the past.

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© 2014 Japan Comparative Literature Association
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