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Estimare livrare: 21.12.19 - 30.12.19

Originally published in 1947, this fine, startling novel by the renowned Japanese writer (1886-1965) appears for the first time in English. Sonoko Kakiuchi, the bored and willful upper-class wife of an Osaka lawyer, recounts the story of her desperate love in the year 1927 for a willowy young woman named Mitsuko. When Sonoko discovers the presence in Mitsuko's life of a man, the elusive Watanuki, she is surprised by enormous feelings of jealousy and soon finds herself "sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand" of the couple's lies. But Sonoko is no saint: in an attempt to gain time and attract sympathy she fakes a suicide attempt that draws her husband into the affair. The romantic quadrangle lurches to a tragic, quintessentially Japanese conclusion. Tanizaki's prose, seamlessly translated by Hibbett, is as icy and lovely as a winter morning. It's also interesting to note how the author propels the plot and develops characters through their use of pharmaceuticals, a device he later employed with great effect in his masterpiece, The Makioka Sisters.

The two novellas, written in 1932 and 1949-50, explore Tanizaki's recurrent theme of obsessive love. Both are narrated in flashbacks by sons, as one retells with mounting suspense his father's unusual arrangement in the name of love and the other confronts issues of trickery and honor that force a man to give up what he treasures most, his wife. Both are suffused with the atmosphere and traditions of ancient Japan yet depict a decadent society that seems very modern. Tanizaki's last major novel, Quicksand, which is particularly difficult to translate, takes place in 1920s Osaka and describes love--heterosexual, lesbian, adulterous, conjugal--in its multifarious convolutions of impotence and obsession, frankness and shame, happiness and tragedy. The four main characters indulge in the games and schemes of the idle rich obsessively directed by one of them: the beautiful and cruel, yet loving and lovable, Mitsuko.

Sonoko Kakiuchi is a cultured Osaka lady, unfortunately widowed young. But her story is unsettlingly at odds with her image. It is a tale of infatuation and deceit, of eliberate evil. Its theme is humiliation, its victim Sonoko's mild-mannered husband. At is centre - seductive, manipulating, enslaving - is one of Tanizaki's most extraordinary characters, the beautiful and corrupt art student, Mitsuko.

Junichiro Tanizaki was born in Tokyo in 1886 and lived there until the earthquake of 1923, when he moved to the Kyoto-Osaka region, the scene of his novel The Makioka Sisters (1943-48). Among his works are Naomi (1924), Some Prefer Nettles (1928), Quicksand (1930), Arrowroot (1931), A Portrait of Shunkin (1933), The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi (1935), modern versions of The Tale of Genji (1941, 1954, and 1965), 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 Japan's Imperial Prize in Literature in 1949. Tanizaki died in 1965.

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