An absolute joy to read
Title: In Praise of Shadows
Author: Junichiro Tanizaki
Translators: Thomas J Harper / Edward G Seidensticker (from Japanese)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Essay
First published: 1934
Edition: Paperback, published by Vintage in 2001
This is an enchanting essay on aesthetics by one of the greatest Japanese novelists. Tanizaki’s eye ranges over architecture, jade, food, toilets, and combines an acute sense of the use of space in buildings, as well as perfect descriptions of lacquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure. The result is a classic description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age.
This was such a nice surprise. This is an essay, only 60-something pages long, pretty much solely about Japanese aesthetics and the author’s views relating this to Japanese and Western cultures when it was written in the 1930s.
Of course some views are dated, but overall this read very easily and it was just beautiful. Really beautiful and sometimes funny as well. You could definitely call this aesthetic writing. I loved the descriptions and the clear longing the author gets across as he longs for some the old ways, for example when shadows were still appreciated.
I will definitely seek out one or more of this author’s novels, because this was simple and beautiful. It did not need to do anymore.
7 out of 7 stars