Friday, July 24, 2009
TANIZAKI JUNICHIRO b JULY 24 1886
holly had a course at st andrews in laurinburg on modern japanese writers. at the time, none of us in p'cola had read them. it was quite a revelation & got some of us on a world lit kick that lead to marquez & kundera & bulgakov. the japanese writers on holly's syllabus were the usual suspects: soseki, kawabata, akutagawa, dazai, mishima, & oe. tanizaki junichiro was on there too. i didn't read his makioka sisters until i did a similar course w/bob knox at new college but some prefer nettles & the key were on the list & i enjoyed them quite a bit. they were odd tales of obsession & alienation. that kind of thing appealed to me then. the japanese, at least their writers, definitely had a thing about sex. five of the seven writers on holly's syllabus all wrote several stories or novels revolving around sex & voyeurism. that was fine by me.
tanizaki's essay, in praise of shadows, was also a pleasure to read. scott nygren had it on his syllabus for a class i took at university of florida, modern japanese cinema. in it, he discusses the theory of wabi sabi, in which imperfection and transience are considered the touchstone of beauty. that was fine by me too.