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10 in fact sensei does commit suicide after

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Unformatted text preview: satile writer than Nagai Kafû. Unlike Kafû, who was obsessed with the vanishing life of Edo, Tanizaki produced books on a great variety of subjects. Some, for example, are set in Japan’s distant past, while others are intimately personal accounts, often of a highly erotic nature; still others, like his masterpiece, The Makioka Sisters,6 are evocations of Japanese society. To many readers, Tanizaki was the most decadent of the decadent writers, a view The Fruits of Modernity 281 they formed from the extraordinarily masochistic, sexually perverse behavior of so many of his characters. Nagai Kafû’s heroes had, for the most part, simply used women or had taken what pleasures they could from them; but, in the writings of Tanizaki, men willingly debase and sacrifice themselves to the glorification of feminine beauty. This is perhaps best seen in the recurrent theme of foot fetishism. Tanizaki’s last—although by no means best—novel, The Diary of a Mad Old Man (Fûten Ròjin Nikki, 1961), deals exclusively with the passion of a sickly, withered, and impotent old man for his daughter-in-law, a former cabaret girl who humors him in return for monetary favors. The old man is particularly enamored with the girl’s feet and even schemes to have imprints made of them on his tombstone so that he can lie in eternal abjection beneath them. Another central theme in Tanizaki’s work is the familiar conflict between East and West. For other Japanese, this was a conflict of philosophies or of an Eastern spiritualism as set against a Western materialism; but for Tanizaki it seems to have been primarily aesthetic. In his earlier writings he was, as he himself later lamented, excessively infatuated with the West and its modernity. As he approached middle age, he began to reassess and to appreciate anew the attractions of traditional Japan. In keeping with his ever-constant absorption with women, Tanizaki dealt most effectively with the pull of East and West in such novels as Some Prefer Nettles (Tade Kuu Mushi, 1...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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