On Saturday 29th of April JETAA North West and Japan Society North West co-hosted an event for our members and others interested in Japanese culture. We invited Dr. Damian Flanagan to talk about his latest research on Japan's most celebrated author, Natsume Soseki.
Dr Flanagan is a writer and critic interested in Japanese literature, East Asian studies, and world history. You can see a picture at the start of his talk at the top of this article and can find out more about him on his website: http://www.damianflanagan.com/
He began by telling us a bit about the history of the beautiful building the talk was held in, Summerville. Summerville was once the home of Sir Harry Smith, First Baronet who lived from 1786 to 1870 and had a very eventful and interesting life. You can read about him here.
Sir Harry Smith's presence at Summerville towards the end of his life grabbed the attention of the community of Manchester who enjoyed watching such a grand figure ride through the city on his horse. Summerville was sadly left to decay over the years but Dr Flanagan has recently taken it upon himself to restore it to the glorious condition it was kept in when Sir Harry Smith lived there. The grounds and building alike are stunning, and the room the talk was held in had beautiful wooden floors, massive windows, and impressive chandeliers.
Dr Flanagan's talk itself was fascinating. It covered Soseki's two year placement in London, the importance and influence of his close friend and haiku specialist Shiki Masaoka, and also explained the satire and imagery Soseki used in his novels. I myself have read a few of Soseki's books but Dr Flanagan's talk made even those who haven't read any want to get their hands on a copy! After the talk, we were treated to a wine reception where we could talk with Dr Flanagan and the other guests too.
It was such an enjoyable and informative event in incredible surroundings. It was definitely a success and so we hope to do something like this again in the North West in the near future. As for Soseki's dark secret, which was the title of the talk, well, Dr Flanagan is due to bring a book out on it so I better not spoil it! If you come and join us next time you may be able to find out more for yourselves.
I hope you're all well and will look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our next event. (See the latest news section for details.)
Corrina Ellis - North West Chapter Chair
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