Longing and Other Stories features three short stories written in the first decade of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s career as a writer. All of them contain autobiographical elements and explore the relationship dynamics between sons and mothers, which is fantastically analysed in the afterword by the translators – Paul McCarthy and Anthony H. Chambers.
The titular Longing is, as we find out at the end, is a somewhat nostalgic dream of a grown man who seeks his mother. In Sorrows of a Heretic we watch a poor family whose son, a student suffering from neurasthenia, rebels against the Confucian teachings of obedience towards the elders. The last short story, The Story of an Unhappy Motheris about a hypochondriac mother and the children whom she could always rely on – until the moment of an accident that changed everyone’s lives. Soon after it happens, the mother dies and (as the narrator informs us at the very beginning), she takes the eldest son with her to the afterlife.
Longing and Other Stories will be a treat for all fans of Tanizaki’s work who want to learn about his earlier, but no less important texts.