It is from sseki that we hear the most anguished cry

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Unformatted text preview: e very street mentioned in The Calendar of Plum Blossoms, which he had avidly read not long before. Ah, he sighed, did those ill-starred lovers live in such a dark, sinister street? Some of the houses had bamboo fences exactly like the ones in the illustrations to the book. The bamboo was withered and the stalks were eaten at the base by insects. Chokichi thought they would probably disintegrate if he poked them. An emaciated willow tree dropped its branches, barely touched with green, over the shingled roof of a gate. The geisha Yonehachi must have passed through just such a gate when, of a winter’s afternoon, she secretly visited the sick Tanjiro. And it must have been in a room of such a house that the other hero, Hanjiro, telling ghost stories one rainy night, dared to take his sweetheart’s hand for the first time. Chokichi experienced a strange fascination and sorrow. He wanted to be possessed by that sweet, gentle, suddenly cold and indifferent fate. As the wings of his fancy spread, the spring sky seemed bluer and wider than before. He caught from the distance the sound of the Korean flute of a sweet-seller. To hear the flute in this unexpected place, playing its curious low-pitched tune, produced in him a melancholy which words could not describe.5 But Chokichi’s widowed mother (the teacher of a classical form of dramatic recitation) and his uncle (a haiku master)—both of whom are relics of the past—seek to persuade him not to enter the theatre but to remain in school. In despair, Chokichi allows his health to decline and contracts typhoid fever. It is in this melancholy state of affairs that the book ends, though we are given hope that the uncle will now help Chokichi to become an actor. Reflecting on his own past, the uncle realizes that for Chokichi, as for himself, the pursuit of one of the classical arts, such as haiku or kabuki, is infinitely preferable to the modern alternative of entering into a life of drudgery in business. Tanizaki Junichirò was a far more powerful and ver...
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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 The University of British Columbia.

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