Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (1886–1965) was one of the most interesting Japanese writers, whose novels, short stories and essays were a testimony of changes in Japan in the 19th century. At the same time, they painted a dark world of obsession and sexual deviation. Tanizaki grew up in a wealthy merchant family, who lost their fortune due to an earthquake in 1894. Thanks to that, he couldn’t finish his studies, but he swiftly progressed as a writer. His books were widely read right from the start, and the author could afford travels around Asia and a Western-style house.
In the wake of losing the house in an earthquake in 1923, he moved to Kyoto. After a short period of infatuation with Western cultures and lifestyles, he decided to explore Japanese culture, art, and aesthetics, which resulted, among others, in the superb essay “In Praise of Shadows”. The heroes of his works are often people torn between old Japanese traditions and a fascination with modernity and the West. As one of only several authors of post-war Japan, he chose as his characters older men struggling with their sexuality. Many of his novels were more or less successfully adapted into films.

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