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The Reed Cutter & Captain Shigemoto's Mother
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The Reed Cutter & Captain Shigemoto's Mother

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  123 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
One of the great novelists of the twentieth century, Junichiro Tanizaki wrote about love--and sex--with a breathtaking suppleness of style and a vast depth of literary allusion. In these two novellas, brilliantly translated by Anthony H. Chambers and appearing in paperback for the first time, Tanizaki probes the translucent screen that separates idealized yearning from hum ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published June 24th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Dec 18, 2012 umberto rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
Reading these two novellas by Junichiro Tanizaki was to fulfill what I had expected from my three-week waiting for its copy to arrive. I posted a brief note above why I longed to read them, especially, "Captain Shigemoto's Mother" in which there are 11 chapters, however, the excerpt from Chapters 9 and 10 translated by Edward Seidensticker is the prime motive urging me to read all.

I would like to focus to its second novella since, in fact, it needs more attention than the first one (I may rethin
Nov 30, 2008 meeners rated it really liked it
chambers does a good job getting the flavor across without overtranslating. (though it's a pity the visual effect of ashikari couldn't really be preserved.) pairing these two novellas together was a good choice - you get some new riffs on your standard tanizaki themes (mother worship, some truly weird substitution fetishes, kansai, etc.).
Jun 04, 2007 Geoffrey rated it liked it
Actually, Captain Shigemoto's Mother is sort of tedious.
Ronak M Soni
Jan 27, 2013 Ronak M Soni rated it it was amazing
These are two fabulous novellas, exploring the tension between a strict conservative society and sexual human beings, by someone who is obviously an accomplished writer.

"The Reed-Cutter" is about a man who goes to visit a shrine steeped in a particular piece of history which he has always been fascinated by. There, he meets a man who tells him the story of his father who was in a sexless menage a trois of selfless love and great sacrifice. Mixing nostalgia of an age long past and an undercutting
Apr 27, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan-fic-lit
My reading of both these novellas is heavily influenced by having recently read Tanizaki's Naomi a story of obsession. Both stories in this book are similarly about men obsessed with a certain woman.

While Naomi has a personality, a rebellious streak and likes to have a good time, the objects of affection in the two stories in this book have no personal characteristics. They are admired and pampered for their beauty. While no personality elements are ascribed to either of them, they are totally p
Jan 03, 2014 Noam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
tanizaki could literally write about the difference between the local grasses of two different parts of japan for a whole novel and it would still be fascinating... not a single thing happens for at least half of the reed cutter, but you don't even mind, and when the intensely romantic story starts all of a sudden it's like it's just the natural order of things. nothing too slow or too quick and nothing out of place at all. and the second book is just the same; it's really three or four stories ...more
William Gortowski
First time reading Tanazaki. Would help to know a little bit more about Japanese history and culture. Otherwise what came through was bizarre sexual behavior, which is OK...
Apr 07, 2009 Kate rated it it was ok
This was my first book by Junichiro Tanisaki. Although I was not thrilled with the book I have a feeling it has more to do with my lack of background knowledge. After reading a few more I am sure I will revisit this book and take far more away from it.

Tanisaki uses historical reference and folklore to create two tales of human vulnerability. Both tales center around obsession and mother love, making a well-fit pairing. I would have preferred the stories had been more contradictory, making a mor
Joanne Boughton
Feb 11, 2016 Joanne Boughton rated it did not like it
This just wasn't my kind of book. I love the flowing, poetic style of Japanese writers, and the author did not disappoint. However, the stories read more like an historical account than a work of fiction. This is my first time reading anything by this writer. I would like to try one of his other novels. In fact, I think Mishima and Murakami may have to make it back into the rotation very soon.
The Reed Cutter is really good, but has a strange start. The only downside is that it contains dialogue, but no quotation marks, so sometimes it becomes hard to follow.

Captain Shigemoto's Mother is a harder read, coming off as a quasi-history book. I barely managed to finish it, and admittedly, some chapters were so bad that I skimmed them instead.
Jun 21, 2014 Olivia rated it liked it
The reed cutter has an uber-slow start, a review of poetry in Heian period. if you overcome that, you have a beautifully written story, a romance a bit uncomprehensible for occidentals yet described with exquisite detail, and an end in the style of old japanese narrative
Feb 26, 2010 Tom rated it really liked it
Both novellas start with a dense, dryly allusive and almost abstract exposition. After several pages, it's impossible to say when, you find yourself completely immersed in almost bodice-ripping human drama. Then the ending blows you away.
Aug 07, 2011 Akira rated it it was ok
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Jun'ichiro Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎) was a Japanese author, one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, and perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki.

Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century Japa
More about Jun'ichirō Tanizaki...

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