The season is autumn. A young woman from a poor farming village waits for her lover in a quiet forest after the rain. When he shows up, he acts with cool disinterest, having already made up his mind to dump her. His parting words are, "I'm leaving for the big city tomorrow."

The above is a scene from the Russian novel "The Tryst" by Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883).

When author Futabatei Shimei (1864-1909) published a Japanese translation of this novel in 1888, many young aspiring writers were swept off their feet. They included such would-be literary greats as Tayama Katai (1872-1930), Kunikida Doppo (1871-1908) and Shimazaki Toson (1872-1943).

Revisiting Futabatei's rendition, I was struck by the eloquence with which he described nature--the golden splendor of fallen leaves in the sun, the cawing of "shijyukara" (Japanese tit), and so on. I felt my five senses being fired up.

Is this novel being read by Japanese teenagers today?

"This is the perfect book for helping young people understand what it's like to be in love for the first time," said Tomoko Murata, 62, an English teacher at a public junior high school in Tokyo and a licensed teacher-librarian.

Four years ago, Murata co-edited "Koi no Owari wa Itsumo Onajidakeredo ..." (Even though the end of romance is always the same ...), a collection of short stories from world literature, published by Kumon Publishing Co.

Murata ensured that the book included a chapter on "The Tryst."

She was once asked by a third-year junior high school boy, "Sensei (Teacher), what do you do when you fall in love with someone?"

She told him to let that special person know how he feels, but also to be considerate of that person's feelings. She also advised him to turn to classic literature to learn about the difficulty, as well as the importance, of bonding genuinely with someone.

In his 64-year life, Turgenev published numerous masterpieces, including "Fathers and Sons," "First Love," "Smoke" and "A Nest of Gentlefolk."

Nov. 9 marks the 200th anniversary of his birth. It also is the final day of this year's "Dokusho Shukan" (Book Week) in Japan.

It may be the perfect time to pick up a classic work of literature that tends to be overlooked.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 9

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.