Naomi by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

naomi1

Naomi by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

Japanese fiction

Original title -痴人の愛( a fools love?)

Translator – Anthony H Chambers

source – personnel copy

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki according to his Wiki entry is the second most well-known of the writers that took Japanese fiction into the modern age behind Natsume Sōseki .His books were known for the sexual and erotic content .His family were printers but after a huge earthquake in the mid 1890 he had to become a tutor in a house he went to university in Tokyo to study literature but left to become a full-time writer .A number of his books have been turned into film in fact one Quicksand has had four different versions made of it .Naomi this book has twice been made into a film .As you can tell Tanizaki is a major writer in the Japanese Canon .Also fitting to be my second book for January in Japan .

I’m going to try and relate the facts of our relationship as man and wife just as they happened ,as honestly and frankly as I can ,It’s probably a relationship with out precedent .My account of it will provide me with a precious record of something I never want to forget .At the same time .I’m sure my reader will find it instructive too .As Japan grows increasingly cosmopolitan .

Open lines show what I mean about Culture clash in this book .

 

Naomi is a love story ,story of a marriage ,story of a women coming of age and story of culture clashing .The story focus on a couple Naomi of the title in english is a bar girl but with a western yearning she likes all things western .She is saved from her life as a bar girl by  Jōji who marries  .He is in love with her as she seems so different to all the other women he knows ,he loves the western touches she has .But the relation ship has many twist and turns and it is a lot about who is in control of the Marriage as it ends up Naomi is 15 when she meets and starts the relationship with Jōji he is 28 so there is an age gap there and initially he use his superior position to control Naomi but over the course of the story you see Naomi is actually clever and very good at getting here own way and making Jōji tow the line .A lot of sexual power games in here and also fun of manners at times .

At first Naomi had looked after the house and done the cooking ,but this didn’t go on for more than six months or a year .An even bigger problem than the laundry was the house : it got messier and dirtier every day .

Naomi is never going to be the perfect housewife .

I loved this book it centred on a theme that I love in fiction and that is what I call culture clash here it is the western culture and traditional Japanese culture and of course the two of these in some ways represent the sides of this but there is also a sense the even thou Jōji is quite traditional at his heart ,even he likes the western things and maybe that is a metaphor for what happen to Japan post world war two ? This book was published in 1947 .Also the relationship and the way that Jōji help Naomi move on from being a bargirl actual remind me of The Pygmalion by George Bernhard shaw the way Jōji took Naomi and made her a lot more than she was ,but also the way Naomi saw what she could be as well .

Have you read this or any other novel by Tanizaki ?

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tony
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 00:42:15

    I’d really like to try this one. I’ve heard it described a bit of a Japanese ‘Lolita’, although with different plots. I’ve liked most Tanizaki I’ve tired, and I may even reread ‘The Makioka Sisters’ at some point soon🙂

    Reply

  2. gaskella
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 08:00:22

    Although I’m reading only from my TBR for the foreseeable future, I must be able to find a Japanese novel in there somewhere!

    Reply

  3. Amateur Reader (Tom)
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 16:03:28

    I feel there has been some terrible misunderstanding of Lolita.

    Reply

  4. Mel u
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 16:34:12

    I loved this book also. Naomi represents in part the seductive corruption of western values on Japan.

    Reply

  5. Bellezza
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 18:46:11

    Like you, I like to read about the theme of “culture clash”, but even more I like to read abot the theme of marriage/relationship. This sounds like a fascinating work, one which I’d like to read sooner vs. later. Thanks, Stu, for a very compelling review.

    Reply

  6. Max Cairnduff
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 19:59:39

    I haven’t read this one yet, but I have read his Diary of a Mad Old Man (which I loved) and a non-fiction by him In Praise of Shadows which is reviewed at mine (http://pechorinsjournal.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/in-praise-of-shadows-by-junichiro-tanizaki/) and which made my 2011 end of year list. Fantastic writer. I have another of his unread, so it will be a while before I get to this one.

    Have you reviewed any Soseki Stu? I’ve not read any.

    Reply

  7. sakura
    Jan 14, 2014 @ 15:33:11

    I really loved this book too and Makioka Sisters. One of the things that makes Tanizaki exciting (like his Japanese contemporaries) is his description of the culture clash between the East and West which so permeates life in early and mid-twentieth century Japan. And you are so right about Pygmalion!

    Reply

  8. Trackback: That was the month that was Jan 2012 | Winstonsdad's Blog
  9. Trackback: That was the month that was Jan 2014 | Winstonsdad's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

January 2014
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
%d bloggers like this: