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Istvan Zoltan Zardai 講師的專欄

Some thoughts on Tanizaki Djunichiro's 'In Praise of Shadows'

2021年1月6日

This long essay is a creative, in some places wistful, in some places funny exposition of some key elements of Tanizaki's aesthetics. It is not representative of Japanese aesthetics, and not a historical or argumentative piece presenting a full view. Rather it is a proposed explanation and endorsement of some features of pre-20th century Japanese architecture, cuisine, fashion, theatrical conventions, and ways of life.
It is written in a witty, entertaining way. The subjects discussed range from poetry to toilets, from sushi to heating systems. It is an essay in a way similar to the tradition of Montaigne: a series of loosely connected personal reflections of an educated person, which help us to understand their views and overall position on things.
Tanizaki is a master of style and has a fantastic sensitivity. Of course the explanations he offers can be contested - I'm skeptical of some of them - but they are creative and original, and are expressed in ways that even through disagreement can provoke fresh thought. Highly recommended, not only for aficionados of Japanese literature and culture. Just don't make the mistake to take this as representative of the whole Japanese tradition or to be the mainstream view then or now.

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