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Tanizaki Jun'ichiro (1886–1965), the author of Naomi; A Cat, a Man, and Two Women; and The Makioka Sisters, was one of the great writers of the twentieth century. The four stories in this volume date from the first and second decades of Tanizaki’s long career and reflect themes that appear throughout his work: exoticism, sexuality, sadomasochism, contrasts between traditional and modern societies, disparities between appearance and reality, the power of dreams, amorality, an interest in cinema, and a fascination with the techniques of storytelling. The stories—translated into English here for the first time—are: “The Strange Case of Tomoda and Matsunaga” (“Tomoda to Matsunaga no hanashi,” 1926), “A Night in Qinhuai” (“Shinwai no yo,” 1919), “The Magician” (“Majutsushi,” 1917), and “Red Roofs” (“Akai yane,” 1925).
“We still have far too little of Tanizaki's work from the teens and twenties. The four stories collected here show the variety of exoticisms Tanizaki was critically exploring at this time. ‘The Strange Case of Tomoda and Matsunaga’ treats the contemporary fascination with the West, ‘Red Roofs’ is about youth culture in Tokyo, ‘A Night in Qinhaui’ trains an exoticist eye on China, and ‘The Magician’ is pure, unadulterated fantasy. The translations are flawless—no surprise coming from Chambers and McCarthy—and the selection fills an important gap in the list of available English translations of Tanizaki. They round out our picture of Tanizaki’s development as a writer, providing early sketches, as well as intriguing postscripts to some of his most important works.”
—J. Keith Vincent, Boston University, award-winning translator of Okamoto Kanoko’s A Riot of Goldfish