Cécile C.'s Reviews > The Key

The Key by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
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's review
Oct 14, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: japanese-literature
Recommended for: people who will take it seriously
Read in October, 2009

This book was, ironically, one of the only classics I manages to find in a collection of popular/mainstream literature. I stopped wondering why after ten pages. It is short nd concise and very hot and perverse, and you even have the excuse that it is classical Japanese literature--what's not to love?

Fortunately, it is also much, much more than cheap eroticism. Indeed, to read it as an exciting bedside reading is to miss the point entirely. It is rather a psychological novel, based on the partial understanding of a husband and wife who try to explore each other's feelings in order to better manipulate the other. Of course, when I say "feelings", do not understand that this is some sort of emotional introspection where husband and wife try to get into each other's head and finally learn about mutual rspect. This is not about emotions at all (nor respect, for that matter), this is about sex, and manipulation. But who said that sex was less complex than emotions?

I guess the best thing about this book is its absence of coyness or inhibitions when it comes to sexuality. All the traps authors usually fall in are avoided: it is never gratuitously obscene nor uselessly bashful, and it never brings morality in when it would be beside the point. This allows the author to write an extremely dense and precise account of the psychological game the couple is playing. The style is perfectly appropriate to the story, being never too introspective nor too impersonal, and the length is perfect: everything is said in few words, there is not a page that has no utility for the whole.

So please, if you are going to pick up this book, do try to take it seriously, as literature. That is the best way I know to be excited bout a novel.
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