In Praise of Shadows
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In Praise of Shadows

4.09 (9,087 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

A fully illustrated, beautifully produced edition of Junichiro Tanizaki's wise and evocative essay on Japanese culture.

'We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates... Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.'

This book is in fact a portal. Reading it, you will be led by Junichiro Tanizaki's light touch into a mysterious and tranquil world of darkness and shadows, where gold flashes in the gloom and a deep stillness reigns. If you are accustomed to equate light with clarity, the faded with the worthless and the dim with the dreary, prepare for a courteous but powerful realignment of your ideas.

In Praise of Shadows is a poetic paean to traditional Japanese aesthetics - in a free-ranging style that moves from architecture to No theatre, and from cookery to lighting, Tanizaki teaches us to see the beauty in tarnished metal, the sombre dignity in unglazed pottery, the primacy of organic materials that bear witness to the regular touch of human hands. It is also astonishingly prescient, offering a gentle warning against the quest for airbrushed perfection, and reminding us that too much light can pollute and obscure our natural world.

In this special edition, the text is accompanied by specially selected images to complement Tanizaki's reflections and further illustrate the pattern and beauty of shadows.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 128 pages
  • 133 x 200 x 10mm | 253g
  • Vintage Classics
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1784875570
  • 9781784875572
  • 14,042

Review Text

"More like a poem than an essay"
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Review quote

"Essential reading" -- David Adjaye, architect "An elegant essay on traditional Japanese aesthetics by the great novelist. A delight to read" * Independent on Sunday * "More like a poem than an essay" * Building Design * "Tanizaki suggests an attitude of appreciation and mindfulness, especially mindfulness of beauty, as central to life lived well" -- AC Grayling "This has been an important book for my career. I've read it multiple times-it continues to be meaningful and I don't expect that will change. Shadows are more important than objects because they enter the realm of the mysterious. The white space is more important than the stroke of the pen. Shadows are the silent reason that objects are recognized; they give them shape. Shadows represent the soul of a place or object" -- Tom Kundig, architect
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About Jun'ichiro Tanizaki

Junichiro Tanizaki was one of Japan's greatest twentienth century novelists. Born in 1886 in Tokyo, his first published work - a one-act play - appeared in 1910 in a literary magazine he helped to found. Tanizaki lived in the cosmopolitan Tokyo area until the earthquake of 1923, when he moved to the Kyoto-Osaka region and became absorbed in Japan's past.

All his most important works were written after 1923, among them Some Prefer Nettles (1929), The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi (1935), several modern versions of The Tale of Genji (1941, 1954 and 1965), The Makioka Sisters, The Key (1956) and Diary of a Mad Old Man (1961). He was awarded an Imperial Award for Cultural Merit in 1949 and in 1965 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the first Japanese writer to receive this honour. Tanizaki died later that same year.
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Rating details

9,087 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 38% (3,416)
4 40% (3,653)
3 18% (1,611)
2 4% (322)
1 1% (85)
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