This is an enchanting essay on aesthetics by one of the greatest Japanese novelists. Tanizaki's eye ranges over architecture, jade, food, toilets, and combines an acute sense of the use of space in buildings, as well as perfect descriptions of lacquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure. The result is a classic description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age.
Junichiro Tanizaki was one of Japan's greatest twentienth century novelists. Born in 1886 in Tokyo, his first published work - a one-act play - appeared in 1910 in a literary magazine he helped to found. Tanizaki lived in the cosmopolitan Tokyo area until the earthquake of 1923, when he moved to the Kyoto-Osaka region and became absorbed in Japan's past.
All his most important works were written after 1923, among them Some Prefer Nettles (1929), The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi (1935), several modern versions of The Tale of Genji (1941, 1954 and 1965), The Makioka Sisters, The Key (1956) and Diary of a Mad Old Man (1961). He was awarded an Imperial Award for Cultural Merit in 1949 and in 1965 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the first Japanese writer to receive this honour. Tanizaki died later that same year.
"An elegant essay on traditional Japanese aesthetics by the great novelist. A delight to read" Independent on Sunday "A highly infectious essay lauding all things shady and subtly hidden" Guardian "The outstanding Japanese novelist of this century" -- Edmund White "This is a powerfully anti-modernist book, yet contains the most beautiful evocation of the traditional Japanese aesthetic... More like a poem than an essay" Building Design "I am convinced that Tanizaki is one of the few great writers of our time. He is an author of outstanding stature and deserves to be far better known outside Japan than he is" -- Ivan Morris