- Tanizaki, Junichiro (1886-1965)
- Born: 24 July 1886, Tokyo Japan
Most important works
- 1913 Terror
- 1919 The Tattooer
- 1921 The Thief
- 1922 Aguri
- 1924 Naomi
- 1929 Some Prefer Nettles
- 1931 Arrowroot
- 1933 In Praise of Shadows
- 1956 The Key
Tanizaki Junichiro was Japanese novelist whose works often dealt with women, and criticism of western influence in Japan. His works often dealt with obsessions, leading the characters to destruction, yet he kept finding the beauty of very traditional Japanese values.
Junichiro Tanizaki was born in Tokyo. His relationship with his mother was very close, it's told that she breast-fed him until he was six. It's told that though his family was in financial crises, his parents took him to theatre which seemed to give him interest towards Japanese arts.
Tanizaki's relationship to his mother deserves closer look, since the heart wrenching atmosphere of longing what he often describes, is always related to very motherly characters of women in his stories. Often women in her books are described self-sacrificing, utterly modest, and mysterious. In Naomi, he describes older man's passion and love towards young girl. He adopts the girl, Naomi from his parents, giving her good education, but the life turns soon bizarre mix of marriage and parenthood. The girl ends up interesting in western fashion, and narrator himself finds it extremely vain and suffocating.
Tanizaki is known of his love to Japanese culture. In Praise of Shadows he describes his house, why he decided to build the bath tub from wood and how the traditional Japanese aesthetics work. This is very interesting essay.
In 1910 his studies in university came to an end since he didn't have money to pay the intuitions. During that time, he published his first book, SHISEI, The Tattooer. It was a book strongly influenced by Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde. Tanizaki also translated Wilde's "Portrait of Dorian Gray" which was also tells about a woman tattooer.
Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, destroyed Tanizaki's house. During that time, he left his wife and children and moved to Osaka, much more old fashioned town. During that time, Tokyo was much more modern and this change between the environments, led the author to describe Osaka and Tokyo as a symbols of modern and traditional Japan. He was greatly fascinated by Shikibu Murasaki's Genji Monogatari - Tale of Genji. From her works, he took strong Japanese influence, I believe. Makioka Sisters was his tribute to old Osaka. It was very similar kind of tribute such as Yasunari Kawabata's Kyoto.
After war, he wrote novels including Diary of a Mad Old Man and The Key which both told a story of a old man having a stroke caused by too much erotic excitement. The story in The Key was told through two diaries, from his and from his wife's. They pretend not to read each other's diaries, still, obviously trying to provocate each other to read them. They also became a way of strange kind of bizarre communication. The Key is a very sad story of loneliness and erotic obsessions. There is also movie version made of the book, called "Kagi, Odd Obsession" made in 1959, by Kon Ichikawa.
Also others Tanizaki's works are also translated into movies, for example "The Makioka Sisters" (Sasameyuki, 1983 by Kon Ichikawa) which received Imperial Prize in 1949.
Tanizaki died in Yugawara, south of Tokyo, on July 30, 1965.