Meghan Fidler's Reviews > Diary of a Mad Old Man

Diary of a Mad Old Man by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
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Oct 20, 11

bookshelves: epicurean
Read in October, 2011

This text is exquisite in social juxtapositions. The power of a woman wet neck kisses glimmer in the form of a cats eye stone, and the loss of power moans in the tear drops of an old man begging for that exchange again. "It hurts, Satsuko!"
Tanizaki is brilliant in his positioning throughout the book. The diary itself is positioned against the cold medical abstractions in the ending nurse and doctor journals. This effect is stunning- it is those who are quick to diagnose who become mad.
Time, and the experience of change, allow a repositioning of people and practices. From cemeteries to women, Tanizaki's use of an experienced voice is one which paints the centuries.

I would like to include the following excerpt to demonstrate this:
People called Mother a beauty, when she was young. I remember her very well in those days—until I was fourteen or fifteen she was as beautiful as ever. When I compare that memory of her with Satsuko, the contrast is really striking. Satsuko is also called a beauty. That was the main reason why Jokichi married her. But between these two beauties, between the 1890’s and now, what a change has taken place in the physical appearance of the Japanese woman! For example, Mother’s feet were beautiful too, but Satsuko’s have an altogether different kind of beauty. They hardly seem to belong to a woman of the same race. Mother had dainty feet, small enough to nestle in the palm of my hand, and as she tripped along in her straw sandals she took extremely short, mincing steps with her toes turned in. (I am reminded that in my dream Mother’s feet were bare except for her sandals, even though she was dressed to go visiting. Perhaps she was deliberately showing off her feet to me.) All Meiji women had that pigeon-like walk, not just beauties. As for Satsuko’s feet, they are elegantly long and slender; she boasts that ordinary Japanese shoes are too wide for her. On the contrary, my mother’s feet were fairly broad, rather like those of the Bodhisattva of Mercy in the Sangatstudo in Nara. Also, the women of their day were short in stature. Women under five feet were not uncommon. Having been born in the Meiji era, I am only about five feet two myself, but Satsuko is an inch and a half taller. (83-83)

As a final note...



Those who thought 'oedipal complex' need to read Said's Orientalism, works from Subaltern studies, and try to attempt to halt their unabashed exportation of Western 'science.' Sorry literature studies...
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