The Pequod Review:
Kusamakura was a radical leap inward for Natsume Soseki, as he tells the story of a nameless young artist who retreats to the Japanese mountains in search of a deeper understanding of life and art. The book has little in the way of a plot (although the artist meets a woman, the daughter of the resort’s owner); instead it is primarily comprised of a series of digressions, thoughts and meditations by the narrator during his walks. Here for example he describes how artists live in a “three-cornered world” (which was actually the original English title for the book):
I suppose you could say that the artist is one who lives in a three-cornered world, in which the corner that the average person would call "common sense" has been sheared off from the ordinary four-square world that the normal inhabit.
For this reason, be it in nature or in human affairs, the artist will see the glitter of priceless jewels of art in places where the common herd fears to tread. The vulgar mind terms it "romanticizing," but it is no such thing. In fact, the phenomenal world has always contained that scintillating radiance that artists find there. It's just that eyes blinded by worldly passions cannot see the true nature of reality. Inextricable entanglements bind us to the common world; we are beset by obsessions with everyday success and failure and by ardent hopes -- and so we pass by unheeding, until a Turner reveals for us in his painting the splendor of the steam train, or an Okyo gives us the beauty of a ghost.