9/18 – The Makioka Sisters, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

Translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker

Tuesday, September 4,  2018 – discussion lead:  aleks
From the Hardcover edition: In Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, 91L5Sw4-NpLfour aristocratic women try to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. As told by Junichiro Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family–and an entire society–sliding into the abyss of modernity.

Tsuruko, the eldest sister, clings obstinately to the prestige of her family name even as her husband prepares to move their household to Tokyo, where that name means nothing. Sachiko compromises valiantly to secure the future of her younger sisters. The unmarried Yukiko is a hostage to her family’s exacting standards, while the spirited Taeko rebels by flinging herself into scandalous romantic alliances. Filled with vignettes of upper-class Japanese life and capturing both the decorum and the heartache of its protagonist, The Makioka Sisters is a classic of international literature.

Excellent review of the book titled ‘The Makioka Sisters’: An Aberrant Masterpiece by Minae Mizumura, contemporary Japanese writer: […] Written by one of Japan’s greatest novelists, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō (1886-1965), The Makioka Sisters is not simply a masterpiece. It also happens to be a particularly aberrant masterpiece because it revolves around arranged marriage — a subject usually shunned in modern novels. “Arranged marriage” sounds unromantic. Moreover, in English and in other Western languages, the term inevitably evokes certain misgivings. It may not sound as barbaric as “forced marriage,” which makes you wince as you picture a bearded man taking a weeping girl-bride against her will. Yet “arranged marriage” still carries the negative connotation of indifference to the wishes of the bride-to-be. […]

For readers’ reviews of ‘The Makioka Sisters’ go to goodreads.

About the author:

From wikipedia: […] Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎 Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, 24 July 1886 – 30 July 1965) was one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, and perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki. Some of his works present a shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions. Others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century Japanese society. Frequently his stories are narrated in the context of a search for cultural identity in which constructions of “the West” and “Japanese tradition” are juxtaposed. […]

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