Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Book Review: The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

Book Review: The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki





The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki



"This is the story of the extinction of a great family through pride and over - refinement. It is a loving re-creation of the sumptuous, pleasure - filled upper class life of Osaka - the Hamburg of Japan - just before the war. As Tanizaki intimately and sensitively dissects the complex affairs of the once rich and haughty sisters, his surgical realism lays bare the tissue of true pride and false hope. Yet this realism is without harshness, for it is fused with nostalgia for a vanished era. The most important of the four sisters is Yukiko, the third, and the central theme is the finding of a husband for her. She has all the accomplishments of an elegant Japanese lady. Passive, delicate and gentle, she is versed in the tea ceremony, flower- arrangement, calligraphy and poetry.

Yet she somehow finds the strength to refuse a long line of suitors. In Taeko, the younger sister, there are uneasy signs of the future. SHe is a modern girl who tries to break away from the family and to establish herself in a career. She experiences a series of hectic love affairs bears a child before she is married, and ends up as the wife of a bartender. The second sister, Sachiko is a woman of rare kindness and good sense, who tries by every possible compromise to hold the family together and to preserve the wonderful life they knew as children. The truly tragic figure is Tsuruko, the oldest sister, uncompromising, inadaptable, worn down by money troubles and a large family, and finally driven by the exigencies of her husbands work to move from her beloved home to the frantic competitive world of Tokyo, where the Makioka name means nothing"



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