Naomi Paperback – Feb 13 1987
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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".Read more ›
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!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Unlike the other reviewers, I have a different take on this book. Although admittedly disturbing, it is a book about love. Read morePublished on June 28 2003
A fine novel. The premise may seem simple, but Tanizaki has an excellent ear for dialogue and an engaging style that'll pull you in and make you read the whole book before you know... Read morePublished on June 17 2002 by Angry Mofo
I must admit that this book is very well written. Yet, as the story continues to unfold, Naomi's manipulative, promiscuous treachery and Joji's dwindled assertion has you gagging... Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2002
This is the first Tanizaki novel I've read, and I enjoyed it a greay deal, but I hate both of the main characters. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2002 by Daitokuji31