The marriage of Kaname and Misako is disintegrating. Misako's father believes their relationship has been damaged by the influence of a new and alien culture, and attempts to heal the breach by educating his son-in-law in the Japanese traditions of aesthetic and sensual pleasure. The result is a conflict between ancient and modern, young and old.
Junichiro Tanizaki was born in 1886 in Tokyo, where his family owned printing establishment. He studied Japanese literature at Tokyo Imperial University, and 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 gentler and more cultivated Kyoto-Osaka region, the scene of The Makioka Sisters. There he became absorbed in the Japanese past and all his most important works were written from this point, among them Some Prefer Nettles (1929), Arrowroot (1931), The Secret History of the Lord Musashi (1935), several modern versions of The Tale of Genji (1941, 1954 and 1965), The Makioka Sisters (1943-48), 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 an Imperial Award for Cultural Merit in 1949. In 1964 he was elected an honorary Member of the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the first Japanese citizen ever to recieve this honour. Tanizaki died in 1965.
"A chilling climax. Tanizaki is a master of ambiguity in his own language and the subtle flavour of the work is skilfully preserved in this translation" The Times "One of Japan's most popular writers in this century. In this and his other books, he pulls aside the shoji that screens Japanese home life to eavesdrop on what people are really saying and thinking behind their polite facades" New York Times "It is important that the British public should become acquainted with this great twentieth-century Japanese fiction writer" -- Anthony Burgess