Junichiro Tanizaki’s Some Prefer Nettles is an exquisitely nuanced exploration of the allure of ancient Japanese tradition—and the profound disquiet that accompanied its passing.
It is the 1920s in Tokyo, and Kaname and his wife Misako are trapped in a parody of a progressive Western marriage. No longer attracted to one another, they have long since stopped sleeping together and Kaname has sanctioned his wife’s liaisons with another man. But at the heart of their arrangement lies a sadness that impels Kaname to take refuge in the past, in the serene rituals of the classical puppet theater—and in a growing fixation with his father-in-law’s mistress. Some Prefer Nettles is an ethereally suggestive, psychologically complex exploration of the crisis every culture faces as it hurtles headfirst into modernity.
About the Author
Junichiro Tanizaki was born in Tokyo in 1886 and lived there until the earthquake of 1923, when he moved to the Kyoto-Osaka region, the scene of his novel The Makioka Sisters (1943-48). Among his works are Naomi (1924), Some Prefer Nettles (1928), Quicksand (1930), Arrowroot (1931), A Portrait of Shunkin (1933), The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi (1935), modern versions of The Tale of Genji (1941, 1954, and 1965), Captain Shigemoto's Mothe"r "(1949), The Key (1956), and Diary of a Mad Old Man (1961). By 1930 he had gained such renown that an edition of his complete works was published, and he was awarded Japan's Imperial Prize in Literature in 1949. Tanizaki died in 1965.
“Tanizaki writes with an unabashed sensuality.”
“Japan’s great modern novelist, [Tanizaki] created a lifelong series of ingenious variations on a dominant theme: the power of love to energize and destroy.”