Diary of a Mad Old Man

Diary of a Mad Old Man

3.53 (1,547 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by  , Translated by 

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The last novel by one of the best-known Japanese writers, Junichiro Tanizaki who died in 1965 at the age of 79. Tanizaki studied Japanese literature at Tokyo Imperial University and in his youth he was strongly influenced by Poe, Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde, but after the earthquake of 1923 he moved to the gentler, more cultured Kyoto region and there became absorbed in the Japanese past and abandoned his superficial Westernization. By 1930 he had gained such recognition that his "Complete works" were published. In spite of illness in the last years of his life, his mind remained as alert as ever, and during this period he wrote of unusual sexual and psychological problems in "The key" (published in this country in 1961) and "Diary of a mad old man". This book has been accepted in the Japanese Translations Series of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Tanizaki was awarded the Imperial Award for Cultural Merit in 1949 and was elected an Honorary Member of the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1964.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 178 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 16mm | 158.76g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0192821377
  • 9780192821379

Review Text

The Key (1961), as those who read it will unquestionably remember, was the diary of a middled-aged man's fetishistic pursuit of passion and it had a very definite (some found distasteful) aberrant fascination. This again, while told in the first person, manages to achieve the tone of the third - one of startling detachment, and it is concerned with the complete sexual aridity of an old man whose devil in the flesh still prods him with vicarious fantasies. He is 77, and from his toothless mouth to his prostate, with a severe neuralgic condition and high blood pressure in between, his many physical disabilities are recorded here with as great fidelity as is awarded his diminishing erotic returns. The latter are achieved through his daughter-in-law, Satsuko, a former chorus dancer, who indulges him deliberately; sometimes she lets the old man kiss her feet in order to secure a 15 carat cat's eye ring. This dangerously stimulates his blood pressure and finally leads to his total destruction .... Tanizaki is one of Japan's notable writers and his mad old man's self-induced pleasure-pain is charted with a precise, perverse authority. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

1,547 ratings
3.53 out of 5 stars
5 17% (262)
4 36% (559)
3 33% (514)
2 11% (167)
1 3% (45)
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