Book//mark – Naomi | Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, 1924

痴人の愛 / Chijin no Ai / Naomi, 1947                      Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, 1913


“Everyone called her “Nao-chan”. When I asked about it one day, I learned that her real name was ‘Naomi’, written with three Chinese characters. A splendid name, I thought; written in Roman letters, it could be a Western name.”

”One… two…three….. The nimble feet glide effortlessly to the choreographed beats, smooth flowing movements inviting the grace of the translucent skin embracing the rhythmic spin, the soft camellia lips flutter in coquettish whispers,the extravagance of the feline eyes prosper in the richness of the silk delicately stretched on the supple breasts swaying the vile sensuality on the genteel dance floors of El Dorado. The music stops. The moist palm slips away from the slender waist. To the shrill of an encore, the music begins again. “There she goes……”, groaned the man hunched on a chair in a forlorn corner, “There she goes…….My Mary Pickford… treasured diamond… Nao-chan….”

“Naomi, Naomi — I don’t know how many times the name was repeated between us. It was the appetizer that accompanied our sake. We relished its smooth sound, licked it with our saliva, and raised it to our lips, as though it were a delicacy even tastier than beef.”

“I wanted to boast to everyone,”This woman is mine. Take a look at my treasure.”

“Her eyes, nose, hands, feet… Each part was a supreme delicacy, and I was insatiable.”

“Can it be, I wondered, that life without her is so dull as this?”

“If I know from the start that I’m going to be alone, I’m not lonely. It doesn’t bother me.”

“But once you start doubting, it’s hard to know what to believe.”

”For me Naomi was the same as a fruit that I’d cultivated myself. I’d labored hard and spared no pains to bring that piece of fruit to its present, magnificent ripeness, and it was only proper that I, the cultivator, should be the one to taste it. “

”If you think that my account is foolish, please go ahead and laugh. If you think that there’s a moral in it, then, please let it serve as a lesson. For myself, it makes no difference what you think of me; I’m in love with Naomi.”

“For someone who writes as slowly as I do, each installment is a full day’s work. Newspaper novels are painful… Whether I like what I’m writing or not, whether I’m feeling inspired or not, I have to write an installment every day.”

”Night is usually associated with darkness; but to me, night always brought thoughts of the whiteness of Naomi’s skin. Unlike the bright shadowless whiteness of noon, it was a whiteness wrapped in tatters, amid soiled, unsightly, dusty quilts; and that drew me to it all the more.”

“The evils of dancing? Perhaps there are some, but nothing is without its evils. In my case, anyway, it’s entirely wholesome, because I go with my family―wife, sister, and daughter. It’s preposterous for men who spend their time in teahouses to say that dancing is unwholesome. Dancing makes a person feel young, cheerful, and lively, which alone is enough to make it far better than a teahouse party. Besides, it’s economical. Young and old alike should plunge into it. Whether people think dancing is good or bad, there’s no going against the trend of times. No doubt dancing will grow more and more popular. I very much hope so.”

”It is often said that ‘women deceive men.’ But from my experience, I’d say that it doesn’t start with the woman deceiving the man. Rather, the man, without any prompting, rejoices in being deceived; when he falls in love with a woman, everything she says, whether true or not, sounds adorable to our ears…. I know what you are up to, but I’ll let you tempt me.”

“The greatest weakness of Japanese women is that they lack confidence. As a result, they look timorous compared to the Western women. For, the modern beauty an. Intelligent, quick-witted expressions and attitude are more important than lovely features.”

”I realized that a woman’s face grows more beautiful the more it incurs a man’s hatred.”

“I’ve known all along that she’s fickle and selfish; if those faults were removed, she would lose her value. The more I think of her as fickle and selfish, the more adorable she becomes, and the more deeply I am ensnared by her.”

“My heart was a battleground for the conflicting emotions of disappointment and love.”

”The precious, sacred ground of her skin had been imprinted forever with the muddy tracks of two thieves.”

“There’s nothing to be done when one loses confidence in one’s self.”

 Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Naomi (A Fool’s Love), 1924

1 thought on “Book//mark – Naomi | Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, 1924

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *