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From one of the greatest writers of twentieth-century Japan comes a silkily nuanced novel of erotic gamesmanship and obsession. The voice--cultured, ingenuous, and with a touch of coquetterie--is that of Sonoko Kakiuchi, an Osaka lady of good family married to a dully respectable lawyer.
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From one of the greatest writers of twentieth-century Japan comes a silkily nuanced novel of erotic gamesmanship and obsession. The voice--cultured, ingenuous, and with a touch of coquetterie--is that of Sonoko Kakiuchi, an Osaka lady of good family married to a dully respectable lawyer.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Originally published in 1947, this fine, startling novel by the renowned Japanese writer (1886-1965) appears for the first time in English. Sonoko Kakiuchi, the bored and willful upper-class wife of an Osaka lawyer, recounts the story of her desperate love in the year 1927 for a willowy young woman named Mitsuko. When Sonoko discovers the presence in Mitsuko's life of a man, the elusive Watanuki, she is surprised by enormous feelings of jealousy and soon finds herself ``sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand'' of the couple's lies. But Sonoko is no saint: in an attempt to gain time and attract sympathy she fakes a suicide attempt that draws her husband into the affair. The romantic quadrangle lurches to a tragic, quintessentially Japanese conclusion. Tanizaki's prose, seamlessly translated by Hibbett, is as icy and lovely as a winter morning. It's also interesting to note how the author propels the plot and develops characters through their use of pharmaceuticals, a device he later employed with great effect in his masterpiece, The Makioka Sisters . This novel will be published simultaneously with two Tanizaki novellas also previously untranslated (see below). (Feb.)
Library Journal
Good news for Tanizaki fans: the master Japanese novelist, author of The Makioka Sisters and Some Prefer Nettles (both currently available from Perigee: Putnam. 1981) , is ably represented by two new translations. The two novellas, written in 1932 and 1949-50, explore Tanizaki's recurrent theme of obsessive love. Both are narrated in flashbacks by sons, as one retells with mounting suspense his father's unusual arrangement in the name of love and the other confronts issues of trickery and honor that force a man to give up what he treasures most, his wife. Both are suffused with the atmosphere and traditions of ancient Japan yet depict a decadent society that seems very modern. Tanizaki's last major novel, Quicksand, which is particularly difficult to translate, takes place in 1920s Osaka and describes love--heterosexual, lesbian, adulterous, conjugal--in its multifarious convolutions of impotence and obsession, frankness and shame, happiness and tragedy. The four main characters indulge in the games and schemes of the idle rich obsessively directed by one of them: the beautiful and cruel, yet loving and lovable, Mitsuko. Although not equal to his two finest novels, these long-overdue publications are highly recommended for admirers of Tanizaki's work.-- Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679760221
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1995
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,436,813
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Junichiro Tanizaki was born in Tokyo in 1886 and lived there until the earthquake of 1923, when he moved to the Kyoto-Osaka region, the scene of his novel The Makioka Sisters (1943-48). Among his works are Naomi (1924), Some Prefer Nettles (1928), Quicksand (1930), Arrowroot (1931), A Portrait of Shunkin (1933), The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi (1935), modern versions of The Tale of Genji (1941, 1954, and 1965), Captain Shigemoto's Mother (1949), The Key (1956), and Diary of a Mad Old Man (1961). By 1930 he had gained such renown that an edition of his complete works was published, and he was awarded Japan's Imperial Prize in Literature in 1949. Tanizaki died in 1965.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2004


    What a wild ride of a book. When it seems that events can't get any weirder or bizarre, they get weirder and more bizarre. Tanizaki is an amazing story-teller and reading this book it's incredible to realize that this was originally published in serial form in the late 1920's. Tanizaki captures the atmosphere of the period very well. His investigation into the love between his two female protagonists is engrossing. Man and woman; man and man; woman and woman: who's to say what's odd and what's normal? In the hands of Tanizaki, obsession is dissected and eroticism is replaced by mental illness and cruelty. A great book, and a great author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2001

    A work of literary art!

    This story centers on Mrs. Sonoko Kakiuchi, a woman who has grown bored with her stuffy, conservative husband. To fill her time, she takes art courses at an art school. It's there she meets another art student, the beautiful Mitsuko. The two have a torrid love affair. Shortly after the affair begins, Mitsuko starts behaving strange and then Mrs. Kakiuchi is thrown into a strange world filled with betrayal, suspicion, blood oaths, fake pregnancies, botched abortions, one-sided contracts, suicide pacts and secret rendezvous. Everything spins violently out of control sucking in more and more people until the whole thing ends dramatically with a tragedy. This is a fantastic book and in my opinion one of Junichiro Tanizaki's very best!

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