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Naomi [Paperback]

Jun'ichiro Tanizaki , A.H. Chambers
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Feb. 13 1987 --  
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Book Description

Feb. 13 1987 Pavanne Books
Naomi-a "moga," or modern girl-defies Japanese tradition in dress, etiquette, and morality in this satirical tale of obsessive love set in 1920s Tokyo. As narrated by her husband, Joji, the story of Naomi reveals the enthusiasm and confusion with which most urban Japanese contended with the irresistible attractions of Western culture.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

The Westernization of a Japanese bar girl spells trouble for her husband. "Charm, lucidity, fascination with perverse passion and relentless emotional honesty . . . are all here in subtle force," said PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Naomi is the first English translation of Tanizaki's first important novel (originally serialized in Japanese in 1924-25). It is a subtle adaptation to a Japanese setting of the basic story in Maugham's Of Human Bondage . Joji, the narrator, finds Naomi, a girl half his age, working in a cafe. He takes her to live with him, tries to groom her (with English and music lessons), indulges her whims, encourages her ``Western'' ways, and eventually marries her. She becomes a torment to him, but he is so obsessed with her that he tolerates even her infidelities as long as she will stay with him. The recurrent theme in Tanizaki's novels of the danger in sexual fascination may here represent a self-criticism of his youthful preoccupation with things Western. L. M. Lewis, Social Science Dept., Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love? March 3 2004
By Pom
Format:Paperback
This is my second time reading the novel, but this time it was for material for a research paper and used it for literary references to the westernization of Japan. To that effect it depicts the contemporary and westernized Moga, Naomi, and the more traditional Joji, who is in the clutchs of Naomi and is completly subservient to her. Some may take that for symbolism and either way it works out to the same point on westernization.
This book is at times funny for Joji's comments on westerners, but other then that this is not a humorous book, so pay no attention to the reviews on the cover saying its "gleeful". If you want a very intresting depiction of Japan post-WW I or you want to witness a strange and capitvating relationship between Naomi and Joji and then be able to wonder about the physcology of it all, you'll have a kind of morbid love for this novel but hate the characters. ON the writing style, Tanizaki depicts and protrays Joji's feelings and situations so real the already off the wall situation will seem quite realistic and even plausiable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The primer to Tanizaki's works, a must-read. Jan. 21 2004
Format:Paperback
When I first picked up "Naomi", known as "Chijin no Ai" in Japanese, it was in a Japanese literature class at my University. My first exposure to Tanizaki came in reading a short story called "The Tattooer" ("Shisei", which can be found in another collection of his short stories called "Seven Japanese Tales" in English), so I knew he was a good writer with some perverse ideas. Little did I know what I was in for with "Naomi".
We were to read it in a week, which is quite the task with a full schedule. I finished it in three days and reread it a week later. I was amazed at its intricacies.
The story is set in early 1920s Japan, a period when the import of Western fashion, style and culture was at its height and every Japanese person found him or herself enamored with imported American and European literature, dance, clothing and people.
Naomi is a young Japanese waitress with a Western look that a man named Joji finds himself obsessing over at first sight. Even her name, he remarks, resembles Western names. He adopts her and begins to mold her into his perfect woman. The story follows his continual perfecting of her behavior, and her treatment of him. The question soon arises, however, as to who is truly the dominant force in their fragile relationship.
In what I've now come to find is Tanizaki standard, all is never as it seems, and the relationships established throughout the story are rarely as simple as they first appear.
"Naomi" serves as a primer to Tanizaki's entire body of work, being one of his earliest full-length novels and coming before his shift from an obsession with the West to a love of his own traditional Japanese culture.
Since reading it, I've had the opportunity to read much of the rest of his work, and I'm thankful I started with "Naomi".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Antony and Cleopatra Revisited Sept. 30 2003
Format:Paperback
A dubiously crafted work of self-devourment. The course of the novel follows the downfall of the narrator's self-respect at the hands of a seductive lady. The seemingly tragic history that unfolds is marked by the narrator's repeated attempts at extricating himself from the spell that his lust and overpowering "body-parts" fetish for this woman, exotically named "Naomi", has produced within him. Ultimately, he succumbs to his innermost desires and is enslaved by it. He, however, feels no remorse over this, and does not plead for sympathy from his audience.
What this work entails is a woman of awe-inspiring influence who knows it all too well, and a worm of a man who has locked himself into the role of the 'forever enchanted,' mysteriously under a lustspell that appears to be his wit's end. Here, we witness the classic Roman tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra realized in a Japanese retelling: a once self-respectful (and therefore respectable) man destroyed by the charms and wiles of a woman--oh, how beguiling appearances can be!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tanizaki's Satire of 1920s Japan May 3 2003
Format:Paperback
This translation of the original Japanese title "Chijin no Ai" (A Fool's Love), can be interpreted as Tanizaki's skewed portrayal of the East versus West culture clash of the 1920s, during the Taisho Period.
The principle female character, Naomi, is Tanizaki's exaggerated depiction of a victim of the "moga"
(modern girl) / "mobo" (modern boy) phenomenon. Starting as a young and innocent café waitress, she meets Joji, an independent, frugal, commonsensical engineer who introduces to her several Western ideas, like piano, the English language and Western-style dining. She easily integrates these aspects of Western culture in her life, but soon becomes enormously fascinated. As a result, she develops into a frivolous, egocentric, manipulative, and crass woman. With Naomi's transformation, Joji must learn to compromise between his moral integrity and her demands.
The principle male character, Joji, can be seen as Tanizaki's depiction of the struggles between the culture of traditional Japan and the fierce invasion of the cultures of the West. He too undergoes a sort of transformation that may shock readers at the end.
Having read many of Tanizaki's other novels, I have discovered this work to be one of his more milder ones in terms of sexual themes. Unlike some of his other novels, readers will not find foot fetishism, physical sadomasochism, or worship of excreta in Naomi. And surprisingly, this novel was still a controversial work in 1920's Japan. Nevertheless, I recommend this novel to readers interested in Japan's prewar Westernization, works of Tanizaki or social satire.
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