Read Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Edward G. Seidensticker Online


In Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, four aristocratic women try to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. As told by Junichiro Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family–and an entire society–sliding into the abyss of modernity.TsIn Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, four aristocratic women try to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. As told by Junichiro Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family–and an entire society–sliding into the abyss of modernity.Tsuruko, the eldest sister, clings obstinately to the prestige of her family name even as her husband prepares to move their household to Tokyo, where that name means nothing. Sachiko compromises valiantly to secure the future of her younger sisters. The unmarried Yukiko is a hostage to her family’s exacting standards, while the spirited Taeko rebels by flinging herself into scandalous romantic alliances. Filled with vignettes of upper-class Japanese life and capturing both the decorum and the heartache of its protagonist, The Makioka Sisters is a classic of international literature....

Title : Makioka Sisters
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ISBN : 9780399505201
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 530 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Makioka Sisters Reviews

  • Ilse
    2018-09-19 03:58

    Let me hide at least a petalIn the sleeve of my flower-viewing robe,That I may remember the spring. Five years ago, we planted two trees in our enclosed garden, a gingko biloba, which bright yellow unique fan-shaped leaves beguile in autumn , and a cherry tree, for its refined and daintily colored blossoms in spring. Although some of our relatives at first criticized the choice of the Gingko, skeptical and worried about its stature in our miniature garden, the mighty Gingko is now firmly established without further contestation. The poor cherry tree is still looked upon as an unfortunate choice, and now and then some of our relatives try to impel me to cut it down and replace it by another tree, mostly ‘because the period of blossoming is so short’. Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965), one of Japan’s major 20th century writers, probably wouldn’t have agreed with my relatives. I’d like to think that he might have understood our aspiration to bring together these highly symbolic trees adjacently on one spot, introducing aesthetical and philosophical contrast in the garden. As Tanizaki profusely elucidates in The Makioka Sisters, contrasts mirror the complexity of reality, at times even render reality tolerable, or at least fascinating. The gingko tree, venerated in the East as a sacred tree, figures as a symbol of changelessness and is associated with longevity. Some trees even survived the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The tree is an ancient ‘living fossil’, nearly indestructible, and has inspired Goethe and the Art Nouveau architecture in Nancy and Prague – two cities we both loved and visited a few times. The cherry blossoms in turn symbolize the fragility of beauty and the brevity of life. The transient nature of the soft white-pink petals intensifies the delicate beauty, bringing sadness too, reminding of mortality.With The Makioka Sisters Tanizaki wrote an eulogy to impermanence, soaked in the Japanese cultural and aesthetical concept and Zen mood of Mono no aware, a sense of melancholic resignation and sorrow for loss.Called Tanizaki’s magnum opus, the novel chronicles the lives of four sisters belonging to a wealthy Osaka merchant family in decline, set in the years preceding WWII, 1936-1941. The two oldest sisters, Tsuruko and Sachiko, are married and settled, while the two youngest sisters, Yukiko and Taeko, have still to be taken care of by arranging a suitable marriage for them. Utterly picky and snobbish at first, the family gradually realizes that there aren’t that many fish in the sea left, and a catch has to be done, quickly – before the prevalent asset of the aging Yukiko [she is approaching 30 in the beginning of the novel!], her traditional Kyotian beauty, fades away. As an utterly timid and incommunicative person, stubborn and silent, never showing her feelings, she becomes a nuisance to the family, an embarrassing obstacle for the chances of the youngest sister Taeko to get properly married. The sense of urgency is even increasing now the westernized and non-conformist Taeko disregards the traditional family values and concerns by her blatant promiscuity, having various scandalous love affairs and persistently damaging the reputation of her family. Rebellious by principle, artistic and clever Taeko represents social change in Japan, a shift to individualism and personal choice. She is a proto-feminist modern woman, determined to take control of her own destiny by working.However most of the events revolve around the numerous attempts to marry off Yukiko, the novel’s most highlighted protagonist is the second sister, Sachiko. Tender-hearted, gullible and overly sensitive, she has practically taken the full responsibility for her two younger sisters after the death of their parents, while according to the mores, this task, including marrying both women off to a suitable spouse, is in fact the one of the oldest sister, Tsuruko and her husband Tatsuo, who is now head of the family. As much as the novel illustrates the function of and roles in the family within this privileged class, it also paints the ‘portrait of a marriage’, showing the benefits of the traditional arranged marriage like the one of Sachiko and Teinosuke, which is a prosperous alliance of warmth, support, understanding and sympathy. Perhaps it is even an affectionate one, even if romantic love is not a theme in the traditional marriage business (basically fixed on risk analysis) or in this novel. No sight into the inner thought processes of the characters is granted to the reader however, as Tanizaki focusses on the larger scale changes in the traditional Japanese society, describing the experiences and tribulations of his characters in a detached narrative style.While on the surface an engrossing family saga with a touch of soapy plot features, the novel left me with the nagging feeling there are multiple layers to this novel barely fathomable to a western eye only by a whisker acquainted with Japanese culture, history and literature. Looking for familiar ground, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice unsurprisingly came to mind – the marriage issues – but none of the four sisters is endowed with Elisabeth’s Bennet’s wit and charm – and Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks– the decline of a merchant family – but in The Makioka Sisters, only a few years of the lives of one generation are at stake. Various intriguing analyses of manifold facets of the novel, of which the list seems endless, have been made, so one could spend hours in the lasting legacy of Tanizaki’s novel. Call me weird, but I fancy how a detail plucked from a conversation triggers a delightful comparison of middle class women’s education in Japan and Russia through the lens of Western piano music like Chopin. Written partly during WWII, the military censors soon halted the on-going serialized publication of the novel – the declined state of the too feminine world it reflected was considered unpatriotic at a time ultra-nationalism, imperialist expansion and military optimism were paramount. In 1943 a military censorship board dismissed the novel as a work about ‘the soft, effeminate and grossly individualistic lives of women’ – which pretty much is undeniably the case. The novel evocates a hyper-feminine, elegant world of leisure, traditional dancing, calligraphy, sewing of clothes, making of dolls, the meticulous and intricate descriptions of clothing, (kimono’s, obi’s…), visits to the beauty parlor, hairstyle and make-up, music making on traditional instruments like the toko and the shamisen, visits to the Kabuki theatre…..It depicts a comfortable, overly protected, almost decadently elegant life on a moment the authorities demanded austerity. Tanizaki, at first infatuated by modernity and the West and influenced by writers like Poe, Wilde and Baudelaire, turned to more traditional Japanese aesthetics and traditional culture when he moved to the Kansai region in 1923, the cultural and historical heart of Japan, resulting in three translations of the 11th century The Tale of Genji he wrote in modern Japanese.The gracefulness of the sisters’ way of life reflects Tanizaki’s renewed admiration for the traditional aesthetical way of life and culture of the Kansai region (in the south-central region of Japan’s main island Honshu). Except from the oldest sister Tsuruko, who moves with her husband and six children to Tokyo for work, The Makioka’s lives mainly happen in the triangle amongst the cities of Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. Some exquisitely depicted scenes, like the yearly excursion of Sachiko’s household to the cherry blossoms of Kyoto and a night devoted to a firefly hunt, are of a breathtaking beauty. The smooth and elegant prose seduces effortlessly, even more when overlooking the proverbial cultural barbs. (view spoiler)[[searching for the significance of both rituals in Japanese culture, it turned out that whereas apexes of blissful beauty in my untrained eyes, the depicted scenes in fact serve to illustrate the gradual decline of the family, epitomized by the half-heartiness of the observance of the annual cherry-viewing when the family disintegrates and by the wearing of simple cotton kimono’s instead of the elegant silk ones in the historic courtly ideal of the firefly hunt. Both misjudgments serve as another reminder of the fact only having scraped the surface of the multiple layers of this book.] (hide spoiler)]Down into the grasses on the bank, and there, in the delicate moment before the last light goes, were fireflies, gliding out over the water, in low arcs like the sweep of grasses. On down the river, on and on, were fireflies, lines of them wavering out from this bank and the other and back again, sketching their uncertain tracks of light down close to the surface of the water, hidden from outside by the grasses. In the last moment of light, with darkness creeping up from the water and the moving plumes of grass still faintly outlined, there, far as the river stretched- an infinite number of little lines in two long rows on either side, quiet, unearthly. Sachiko could see it all even now, here inside with her eyes closed. Surely that was the impressive moment of the evening, the moment that made the firefly hunt worth-while.And when Sachiko was asked what flower she liked best, there was no hesitation in her answer: the cherry blossom. All these hundreds of years, from the days of the oldest poetry collections, there have been poems about cherry blossoms. The ancients waited for cherry blossoms, grieved when they were gone, and lamented their passing in countless poems. How very ordinary the poems had seemed to Sachiko when she read them as a girl, but now she knew, as well as one could know, that grieving over fallen cherry blossoms was more than a fad or a convention. the family – Sachiko, her husband and daughter, her two younger sisters – had for some years now been going to Kyoto in the spring to see the cherry blossoms. The excursion had become a fixed annual observance.(…) For Sachiko there was, besides pleasant sorrow for the cherry blossoms, sorrow for her sisters and the passing of their youth. (…) As the season approached, there would be reports on when the cherries were likely to be in full bloom. With each breeze and each shower their concern for the cherries would grow. (…) The cherries of the Heian Shrine were left to the last because they, of all the cherries in Kyoto, were the most beautiful. Now that the great weeping cherry in Gion was dying and its blossoms were growing paler each year, what was left to stand for the Kyoto spring if not the cherries in the Heian Shrine? And so, coming back from the western suburbs on the afternoon of the second day, and picking that moment of regret when the spring sun was about to set, they would pause, a little tired, under the trailing branches, and look fondly at each tree – on around the lake, by the approach to a bridge, by a bend in the path, under the caves of the gallery. And until the cherries came the following year, they could close their eyes and see again the color and line of a trailing branch.(…) Sachiko and Etsuko, turned away from the camera, were looking out over the rippled surface of the lake from under this same cherry tree, and the two rapt figures, mother and daughter, with cherry petals falling on the gay kimono of the little girl, seemed the very incarnation of regret for the passing of spring. Ever since, they had made it a point to stand under the same tree and look out over the pond, have their picture taken.Representing the fragility and brevity of life, both the cherry blossoms and the fireflies are poignant symbols for the fleeting of time, the transience of beauty, the predominant awareness of Panta Rei and of inevitable social, economic and cultural change this novel exudes in every sentence – change which is undesirable and regrettable in some ways. Although this novel is often called an epic elegy mourning the waning and loss of traditional Japanese values and mores, Tanizaki most of the time uses a subtle brush to paint the vanishing world as known by the sisters. He questions their desperate clinging to the old rituals by means of hyperbolic description in a slightly ironic tone, observing the gauche behaviour of the family when they put out all the stops to market Yukiko. There is no unequivocal idealization of the traditions or cultural practices, nor are they represented as superior to the more modernized and westernized way of life in Japan. Tanizaki is aware that the formality of ancient traditions can rigidly restrain and suffocate - in particular women’s – individual lives. However Tanizaki bequeaths the youngest sister Taeko - representing the Japanese moga or modern working girl - with a less harsh predicament than late 19th century literary heroines like Emma Bovary or Anna Karenina suffered for their social and sexual transgressions, one could discuss Taeko’s fate and wonder if her misfortune has to be considered a punishment for ill behavior, morally or socially.To my ears, Tanizaki’s voice sounded more prosaic and less melancholic than Yasunari Kawabata’s. The Makioka’s decline is predominantly economic and subsequently social, as the impoverishment of the family means they have to rethink their way of life –even have to work!- and cannot uphold all the duties of their social class, like organizing a memorial ceremony of the parents with the grandeur which is expected of them. There is some ambivalence in Tanizaki’s pessimistic view on his society. On the one hand he is lamenting the past, glorifying the successful arranged marriages of Tsuruko and Sachiko, contrasting this harmonious bliss with the bleak ending of the progressive path Taeko – and by extension Japan, by modernization and westernization – chose. On the other hand he is suggesting that the old ways do not avail anymore, and that Japan has to outgrow its oppressive traditions, hinting at the unhappiness of Yukiko, albeit her obedience to the traditions. Neither Yukiko or Taeko are happy or rewarded. By highlighting these frictions between the individual’s quest for freedom and civilization’s contrary demand for conformity, self-repression and self-effacement, Tanizaki acknowledges a certain Unbehagen in der Kultur and divulges the modernity of his insights. Pondering about this novel, which fascinatingly contrasts and blends past and present, modernity and tradition, East and West, I visited the Japanese garden in Hasselt last Sunday. Listening to the guide talking about the ancient tradition of Hanami, the picnicking under the blooming cherry trees, richly flooded with sake, it occurred that the cherry blossoms have been affected with less innocent connotations in the past; during WWII the cherry blossoms took on a new, grim meaning, as kamikaze pilots used to paint cherry blossoms on their aircrafts, identifying themselves with the short- lived petals when they departed on their suicide missions. Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse. Images: Botanical garden Meise/Catching Fireflies by Chikanobu (1890)/toko instrument/Japanese garden, Hasselt["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Dolors
    2018-09-20 06:00

    The yearly peregrination to the natural spectacle of the cherry blossoming in Kyoto is a millenary tradition in Japan. The symbolism attached to that ritual renders the transience of beauty. The constant collision between the explosion of exuberant vitality and the withering that precedes the inevitable defoliation marks the unrelenting passage of time and the virtuous circle of life rekindled from the ashes.It’s through the annual expeditions that The Makioka Sisters take to witness such a natural display that the history of a generation, that the end of an era and the beginning of borrowed, almost imposed, modernity is presented in detailed scenes of domestic life in a traditional Japanese family.Evoking the naturalistic undertone of the European nineteenth century literature, the Makioka Sisters emerge as aristocratic female protagonists with a family name in steadfast decline that compose a novel of manners in a cannon of four voices. The younger sisters, subservient Yukiko and free-spirited Taeko, see the seasons go by but still remain unmarried branded by an unfortunate scandal that took place ten years ago. A delicate and precise narration of the intricate obstacles the Makioka family endures to find suitable partners for the unwed sisters following a strict morality that equals the status of law becomes the main plotline and sets the action for the background tragedy that is about to unfold.Like in the pointillism technique, words color this story like a fresco painting with small dots of color through the nuanced description of everyday life scenes: the choice of the right kimono for each occasion and its appropriate complements, the recurrent miais where suitors are introduced to the reluctant sisters, the outings to the Kabuki theatre or the trips to Tokyo and its hostile urbanity, the apparently casual dialogues between the members of the Makioka households; every scene acquires the steady rhythm of a repetitive routine, which sometimes verges the tedious, but emulates the circular pattern of the changing seasons and eludes linear storytelling along with the patience of readers more used to action packed books.The characters, even though unscathed on the surface, show the cracks on the walls of their sophisticated poises in small trivialities that can easily go unnoticed by the westernized eye, which in turn augurs the gradual fading of the ancestral heritage of the Japanese empire. The world as the Makiokas know it, the world of rigid social protocols where the family is the central axis that keeps the wheel of society running smoothly, is about to collapse due to the tragic events of WWII, which Tanizaki only refers to by passing as the “China Incidents”. The Nazi alliance is represented by the friendship between the Makiokas and the Stlotz, their German neighbors, but Tanizaki avoids issuing direct value judgments on history or glorifying an objectionable social system that severely limited the free will of women and remains a dignified paradigm of discretion, infusing the required tone in the story to allow the reader to reach his own conclusions. Nothing is explicit, awareness is reached in semidarkness and in the end, the inner turbulences that shake the Makioka family echo the outward disruption of an era on the verge of disappearing, something that can be envisioned in the prosaic and rather abrupt ending that Tanizaki uses to close this nostalgic ode to a world that no longer exists in reality, only in words. The petals of the cherry blossoms might fall like tiny butterflies settling to earth, the morning dew on weeping branches might remind us of unshed tears, and with the senses scrambled, the reader won't know whether he is mourning the loss of the old or welcoming the new that keeps the sense of loneliness suspended in time, running much deeper than mere nostalgia, for there is a certain amount of unknowable depth in Japanese literature that will always remain half in the shadows, making it unfathomable, and pure, at once.Cherry trees in the Philosopher’s Path (Kyoto) during summertime.

  • RK-ique
    2018-10-10 09:06

    My 'better late than never' review. Several weeks ago, I put out a request for a recommendation of a good Japanese book to read. My good friend Marita immediately popped up with The Makioka Sisters. This recommendation was seconded by friend Silvia Cachia. I read their reviews and ordered the book, then forgot about it. Then I became frustrated with the slowness of my current reading choices and complained on GR that I felt like I was stuck in a bog. Friend Travelin piped in with, "Go random." On my way out the door, I ran into the mailman who handed me a package from The Book Depository (no endorsement intended). That struck me as pretty "random". I had several books on order. So here I am. An excellent novel. Extremely well written and translated. The story moves along well and at times is positively captivating. I got my thoughts together and sat down to write what I hoped would be a pretty good review based on the fact that I loved the book and had written a few notes while reading the book. But then I read my friend Ilse's review. It looked a little familiar. Of course, there was the review I wanted to write. But it was better than anything that I could have written. It had all of my ideas but so much more, much, much more. And the writing was wonderful. And she had added beautiful pictures (I would love to have Fireflies up on my wall in my reading room.). She even had what I thought were brilliant references to Jane Austin and Thomas Mann which I had planned to use as an opener to my review. So if you want to read what I think of The Makioka Sisters, read Ilse's brilliant review and think that somewhere in that glowing brilliance are a few embers that would have been my review. BUT WAIT, I would like to tell you a little about what this book brought to mind while I was reading it (if you're not already reading Ilse's review). Yes the book is about that favourite subject of earlier Japanese writers, cultural change and its efforts on individuals. I love the theme and will continue to read these books. What struck me about The Makioka Sisters was that the story was strongly centred on an extended family and its struggles with that change. And, despite the fact that it was about a Japanese family in the mid 1940s, a few years before my appearance on this planet, I empathized, I understood and I related what I read to my own experiences. Today, with our ever changing technology and constant pressures, financial, political and consumer, we see our young often floundering off in directions that deeply offend us. And yet, speaking for myself at least, we are, like Sachiko, who finds herself in the role of guardian of the values, weak and ineffective. Finally, again like Sachiko, we accept a hollow spectre of what we once held to be sacred. Those values that we have tried to defend in families as parents, and even as children, have so little basis. They are nothing but conventions of our society and, for all of the Sturm und Drang we experience, in the final analysis, we are left worn and torn but still intact no matter what is left of our values. Perhaps, as in the Makioka Sisters, we are best off to let those family values go in the name of maintaining the family. I have recently gone through yet another family crisis with yet another deeply held value going the way of the passenger pigeon. In the final analysis, the family is magically still firmly together held that way by mutual love and caring. I cannot really expect more in our ever changing world. The option of fighting for the value and splintering the family is unacceptable.

  • Deniz Balcı
    2018-10-11 06:02

    Çok, çok güzeldi!Ancak bir yanımda buruldu. Sebebi elbette Tanizaki'nin Türkçe'ye çevrilmiş eserlerinin hepsini okuduğum için. Umut ediyorum ki, H. Murakami'nin tüm dünyada yarattığı zelzele biraz daha sürer ve insanların Japon Edebiyatı'na ilgileri artar. Ayrıca Japon gelenekselliğine sırtını dönmüş bir yazarla bu istihdamın sağlanması ise ironik ve düşündürücü."Nazlı Kar" gelecek olursam öncelikle Esin Esen tarafından yapılan çeviri mükemmel ötesi. Kitabın kapak tasarımından tutunda, düzeltmelerine kadar, baskı kalitesine kadar her şey çok büyük özenle gerçekleştirilmiş. İlk baskısını 2000 adet yapan bu büyük kitabın ümit ediyorum ki tekrar baskılarını görebiliriz.Kitabın orijinal adı Sasemeyuki, Japonca'da 'çisildeyerek yağan kar' anlamına geliyormuş. Ancak bu sözcük aynı zamanda Japon söz sanatlarında; kiraz çiçeklerinin baharda dökülmesini karla karıştırmış gibi algılamaya verilen bir isimde. Bu isim çok bilinçli ve lirik bir tercih. Tek başına metaforik olarak kitabın anlattığı, aile hikayesini; baharda dökülen ve karla karıştırılan kiraz çiçeklerine benzetmiş hem de her şeyin gelip geçici olduğunu anlatan bir mantığa oturtmuş. Zira geleneksel japon hayatında büyük yeri olan kiraz çiçeklerini izleme seromonilerinin, aslında sadece estetiksel bir durumu yoktur. Aynı zamanda hayatı ve ölümü sorgulamaya götüren derin manaları vardır. Bu anlamda eşsiz bir tercih. Kitabın İngilizce adı "The Makioka Sisters". Daha önce Türkçe'ye çevrilmeyeceğini düşündüğümden, İngilizce versiyonunu okumak için birkaç girişimde bulunmuştum. Ancak İngilizce çok sistematik, lego gibi bir dil. İngilizce'nin matematiği belki H.Murakami, Kobo Abe gibi yazarları birebir karşılıyor olabilir; fakat dili sade ve lirik olan Tanizaki, Kawabata gibi yazarları karşılayamıyor bence. O yüzden bu baskının çevirisinin çok fazlasıyla tatmin edici olduğunu söyleyebilirim.Tanizaki'nin eserlerinde ağırlıklı eğilim, insanın cinsel olarak doğal olarak sahip olduğu saplantıların incelemesidir. Bunu Naomi, Çılgın Bir İhtiyarın Güncesi, Anahtar gibi romanlarında görebiliriz. Ancak Türkçe'ye henüz kazandırılmamış bazı eserlerinde de Japon Kültürü'nün değişimi, savaş öncesi ve sonrası insanın hali, batı ile doğu sentezindeki bocalamaları üzerine kuruludur. "Nazlı Kar"da bu ikinci kategorideki en yetkin örneğidir. Hatta yazarın başyapıtı denmektedir. Çünkü Tanizaki bu eseri, dünyanın ilk romanı sayılan "Genji'nin Hikayesi" adlı dev yapıtı çağdaş Japonca'ya kazandırdıktan sonra yazmıştır. Hali ile o eserin zengin yapısını taşıdığı söyleniyor. Genji'nin Hikayesi halen Türkçe'ye kazandırılmadığı için çok isabetli görüşler öne süremeyeceğim. Kitabı bu çevirisinden sonra 1939'da yazmaya başlamış yazar; 1943'de de ilk olarak yayınlanmaya başlamış. Uzun bir roman olduğu için 3 cilt halinde yayınlamış ve son cildi de 1948'de yayınlamış. Tanizaki, modern Japon romancılarının çoğunda olduğu gibi, karamsar bir yazar değildir. Bunu okuduğunuz eserlerinden net bir şekilde anlayabilirsiniz. Ne Mişima kadar saplantılı, ne Dazai kadar umutsuz, ne Kawabata kadar melankolik, ne Akutagava kadar problemlidir. Ne de Kenzaburo Oe gibi zor bir hayatı olmuştur. Tanizaki'nin diline de yansır bu sağlıklılığı. Ölümünün yakın olduğu zamanlarda, hastanede yatarken dahi romanlarını yazmaya ve hayata umutla bakmaya devam etmiştir. İşte "Nazlı Kar" bu noktada yazarın en gerçekçi yaklaşıma sahip, savaş yıllarında da yazıldığı için içten içe bir eleştiri taşıyan romanıdır. Bir kadın romanı olması ve onların hallerine bürünmesine rağmen, bazı şeylerden korkması ve uzak durması açıkça gözükmektedir. Elbette bunun yazdığı yıllardaki Japonya'nın içinde bulunduğu durumlarında etkisi olmuştur ama biraz sözü sakınan ve fazla iyimser bir romancı olduğunu düşünebilirsiniz. Ben içimi katranla yıkan Japon edebiyatında, bu iyimser sesin tek başına farklı ve özelliğini koruduğunu düşünüyorum.Temelde Makioka ailesinin 4 kızı ve hayatları üzerinden bir Japon gelenekselliği senfonisi bu kitap. Tokyo'nun geliştiği, batılılaştığı halbuki Kyoto, Osaka, Kobo gibi yerlerin saflığını koruduğu zamanlarda yazılmış ve öyküde böyle bir zaman mekan çizgisine oturtulmuş. Tanizaki, bu dev öyküyü yazarken ilham aldığı şeyin eşinin ailesi olduğunu söylemiş. O yüzden bütün donelerini bu eşinin ailesinden direkt almış. Sözlü bir tarih çalışması yapıyorcasına karısından dinlediği bütün aile geleneklerini kitabına yedirmiş. Fakat güzel olan bir şey var ki o da bu ailenin Japonya'da özellikle kırsal bölgelerde yüzlerce örneğinin olması. Yani benzerlerinin yaşandığı bir sürü hikayeyi taşımış Tanizaki. Japon kadınlarının evlenme süreçleri, davranış özellikleri, erkeklerle kadınların toplumdaki konumu, batılılaşmanın Tokyo dışındaki cereyanı, kadın olmanın ikinci dünya savaşı öncesi nasıl değiştiğinin, geleneksellikten kopuşun nasıl gerçekleştiğinin vb. hepsinin hakkında bilgi sahibi olabilecek kadar ayrıntılı sunumları var. Yazarın batılılaşma ile ilgili düşüncelerine de sahip oluyoruz. Zira kendiside batılışmaktan kaçınmamış olsa da özellikle ilk romanlarından Naomi ve sonrasında da buradaki Taeko karakteri ile sonuçlarını göstermek istemiştir. Elbette kendi grotesk kültürünün içinde bir anda farklı bir bireysellik girince bocalayan Japonya'da batılılaşma ile ilgili görüşler öne sürülmüştü. Japon sosyal hayatının tarihine bakıldığında en anlayışlı ve doğru eleştirileri Tanizaki'nin getirdiğini söyleyebiliriz.Ayrıca kitabın kiraz çiçekleri ve ateşböceklerini izleme kısımlarında Kawabata'yı andırdığını söyleyebilirim. O işin mahareti Kawabata'nın elinde olduğundan sık sık ona gitti aklım.Son olarakta kitapta beni en etkileyen bölüm. MAkioka ilesi ile Rus ailesinin yakınlaştıkları ve Rus ailesinin evinde bir akşam yemeği yedikleri bölümdür. Burada o yemeğe sanki bende katılmış ve iki kültürünün birbirine zıt giden bir çok ayrıntısını kendi gözlerim ile gözlemlemiş gibi oldum.Japon Edebiyatı'nın en önemli eserlerinden biri olan Nazlı Kar'ı şiddetle öneriyorum. Not: Japon hayatı ve kültürü ne kadar, Türk okuyucusuna orayı hissedebilmesi açısından özenle aktarılmış ve çevirilmiş olsa bile, birazcık onlar hakkında bilgi sahibi olmak için geyşalık, kimono kullanımının kültürel önemi, II.Dünya Savaşı sırası japonya gibi konuları kitaptan önce ya da kitapla beraber biraz daha ayrıntılı bilgi sahibi olmak ve kitabı daha iyi hissedebilmek için bakılmasını öneririm. Bilmeyenler için elbette.Herkese iyi okumalar.5/5

  • Aubrey
    2018-10-03 07:14

    It's been such a long time since I've read a translation of the Japanese language. I had completely forgotten how calm and subtle the prose is, how patient you have to be in probing it. It's true that enough happens on the surface to make for a lengthy story, but it is the hidden depths that make the story engaging.Most of the story is occupied with the lives of the Makioka sisters, focusing on the third sister who even at her advanced age has not yet been married. The book starts with discussion of yet another possible husband, (view spoiler)[and ends with the long awaited marriage, (hide spoiler)] but it is so much more than a drawn out soap opera. The main thing to remember is that no matter what trivial events are being described, they are all happening at the cusp of World War II. This event, at first only briefly referred to as the 'China Incident', grows increasingly important as more and more characters feel the effects. All of the sisters are slow to act at the beginning, analyzing the latest events for weeks on end, spending months on decisions that in this era would barely last a day. Even the youngest sibling, who is seemingly very adventurous and self sufficient compared to her sisters, is shown to be just as stuck in the past as the rest of them. She is quickest to act in realization of the changing times, and as such is the quickest to fall victim to disaster. The story doesn't continue very far after her specific troubles are over, but all signs suggest that the other sisters will not be able to avoid the dangers of the coming war. They do not know it yet, but the world is changing into a place with no time for their old methodical approach to life, and their survival will be completely dependent on their ability to adapt.The book is a prime example of characters not appreciating in the slightest what they have until it is gone. They move around their social spheres, content in using all their time to carefully ruminate on the smallest problems from all angles, while making apologies for the slightest supposed missteps. Any hint of the dirty facts of reality is met with immovable contempt and disapproval, and in this day and age, the intrusions of reality are usually small enough that this stubbornness is enough to make them disappear. As time continues, the characters find it increasingly difficult to continue their way of life without acknowledgement of the current wartime conditions, but they still manage to succeed till the very end of this story.The book ends with discussion of the latest banal details of life, but sprinkled throughout are the hopes that each character has for the future. As the reader knows, soon after the end of the novel Japan would descend into chaos and misery as the war made itself known, something that the author himself was completely aware of. Writing this story in Japan from 1943-1948, he would've known full well what kind of journey he was sending his characters on. He would've experienced the worsening way of life that culminated in a final blow when Japan was bombed into surrender, and watched as even the Emperor surrendered to the demands of the outside world. His intimate descriptions of pre-WWII Japan are not only highly accurate, they clearly emphasize how traumatic the war will be to a country so slow and stubborn in its ways of life. If he had gone on to write more, it is obvious that not even the isolated Makioka family would have been able to remain unscathed. There is little chance that any of their hopes for the future that continued beyond the novel would have been realized. What is certain is that their petty feuds and selfish desires would pale in comparison to the rampant death and destruction, and the war would trigger a mental crisis of the entire population. The days where the family of these sisters could afford to be surprised at 'hasty' actions, something commented on throughout the novel, would be at an end. Whether they survived this abrupt shove into modern times is anyone's guess.

  • Sinem A.
    2018-09-21 05:58

    1930 ların Japonyası nasıldı, Japonya o yıllarda dünyaya nasıl bakardı, Japonyada insanlar nasıl yaşar ,hem gelenekçi hem yenilikçi nasıl oluyorlar gibi sorulara cevap bulduran, bu sitede bir arkadaşın yorumunda gördüğüm tavsiyeye uyarak bir harita ve not defteri ile japon müzikleri eşliğinde okurken orada yaşıyormuş gibi hissettiğim ama birtakım sorunlar nedeniyle uzuunn vadede okuduğum güzel japon kitabı

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2018-09-18 04:09

    This is one of Junichiro Tanizaki's major novels covering a family of women in early 20th C Japan. It is beautifully written with extremely well fleshed out characters and an entrancing plot. It is probably my favourite Tanizaki book.

  • Kimley
    2018-09-27 05:17

    I really wanted (and fully expected) to love this book. I loved Tanizaki's Naomi but for reasons that I can't properly express I never found myself engrossed in this as I'd hoped to be. I'd get into for a bit, get bored, put it down for a few weeks and then pick it up again.I can however understand why this book is so well regarded and I really keep vacillating on how to rate it. Set in Japan, it's an intimate look at a family of four sisters, their husbands, lovers or lack thereof and immediate family and friends. It's a book that deals primarily with the mundane. The last sentence of the book (and this isn't revealing anything) is about one of the character's diarrhea.I have only read one other Tanizaki book but I gather that he frequently deals with obsession and this book is obsessively mundane. In small doses, it's truly stunning but after awhile I just didn't care that one of the sisters couldn't get a husband to save her life or that the youngest one was tramping around.And admittedly this is my own problem, not a fault of the book's but I also had a hard time ignoring the fact that the book was published (in parts I believe) in the years immediately following WWII and takes place in the years immediately preceding the war and yet there is very little talk of the war in the book. I kept waiting for the war to rear its ugly head. Their neighbors were German and I rather foolishly thought oh, ho, that's got to mean something but it didn't. And then I started thinking about how I live in a country at war and yet it doesn't affect my life in any tangible way as far as my daily activities go. And that's I suspect precisely Tanizaki's point. Life goes on. Diarrhea happens...

  • Eve
    2018-10-06 08:51

    “The cherries in the Heian Shrine…of all the cherries in Kyoto, were the most beautiful. Now that the great weeping cherry in Gion was dying and its blossoms were growing paler each year, what was left to stand for the Kyoto spring if not the cherries in the Heian Shrine?”I really enjoyed this Japanese classic. In it, four Kyoto sisters attempt to navigate the waves of change that are rapidly engulfing Japan prior to WWII. The Makiokas are an old, wealthy Osaka family, that soon find themselves backpedaling in a changing society where self-made fortunes and worldliness are the new norms. With two unmarried sisters on their hands, the two oldest and most traditional sisters struggle to find a suitable husband for Yukiko, while simultaneously trying to quash the independent streak in Taeko, the youngest.A gentle paced book, Tanizaki slowly unveils the comings and going of the two households. The minute details reminded me of an Ozu film, and when I finally finished the book, I honestly had forgotten that I was reading a work of fiction. It seemed so real! My only issue was the last paragraph; it’s the reason why I struggled for almost two weeks to sit down and write a review! The ending was a bit abrupt to say the least. Tanizaki probably had more to write, and I feel strongly about that because what author would end a novel on this note:“Yukiko’s diarrhea persisted through the twenty-sixth, and was a problem on the train to Tokyo.”

  • Sue
    2018-10-03 04:52

    A quiet book that portrays Japan at a time of great change, the late 1930s to early 1941, through the story of one family and their interactions with provincial and larger Japanese world. The Makioka sisters represent a culture on the brink, struggling to retain it's traditional identity in the face of change both internal and international. The modern world is coming whether this family wants it or not.This is not a novel for those looking for adventure or action. It's for those who want character, good writing, a picture of a society on the cusp of change and a family coping with old traditions in this world. I continue to be surprised by the wonderful Asian writing I'm discovering this year. Highly recommended.

  • Phillip Kay
    2018-09-26 09:16

    The Makioka Sisters (Sasame Yuki, Light Snow), first published in 1948, was written by Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965). Tanizaki wrote The Makioka Sisters after translating the Tale of Genji into modern Japanese and the Murasaki novel is said to have influenced his own. It tells of the declining years of the once powerful Makioka family and their last descendants, four sisters. It has been translated by Edward G. Seidensticker in 1957. Powerfully realistic, it mourns the passing of greatness while celebrating in wonderfully evocative detail the beauty of a particular time and place, Osaka in the 1930s. In its creation of beauty out of sadness it can be compared to another family saga, The Maias (1888), by the Portuguese master Eça de Queiroz (1845-1900).Why is this long book, largely concerned with trivial family procedures, one of the finest novels written? It is not concerned with great events, causes or philosophies. It has little concern with the war Japan was fighting with China, and then the USA, when the book was first published. Indeed its characters don't think about the war, and in a positive way, which doesn't trivialise their concerns at all (most people in fact don't think about the reasons for a war: perhaps it's better that way). This doesn't mean the book is escapist or superficial, just as the concern with women's lifestyle, dress, makeup, etiquette or social vanity make it something written just for women (books and films were once made - by men - to capitalise on what were considered women's 'little' concerns). Tanizaki does that wonderful thing a great artist can do, he finds the universal in the most exact examination of the particular, and makes a work of relevance to us all. Read another family saga, The Brothers Karamazov (1880) and my candidate for the greatest novel yet written (though I'm more than cynical about the word 'great') and marvel at the many routes artists find to the universal.My review is impossibly partial: The Makioka Sisters is the most beautiful novel I've ever read. The language (translation) is so smooth and flowing, the characters and situations so gentle and muted, yet precise and meaningful, that reading the book is like seeing the universe in a drop of water - you see, which is moving, and awareness of where and how you see brings amazement and then a real pleasure.In this beautiful book the characters have a greater degree of reality than many real people - Tanizaki is a great master of characterisation. I know more about them than I do about most of the people I know. It is done by the accumulation of enormous amounts of detail, but detail which, trivial though it may appear, is just right. The result is the creation of a most ethereal and delicate beauty, a lovely world crumbling to extinction yet all the more precious because of its inevitable passing away.Sachiko, the second sister and her husband Teinosuke are that rare achievement, a convincing depiction of really good and admirable people, though in no way heroic. They are very ordinary people, but their goodness, their little troubles and worries, their faults, even weaknesses, all serve to charm and captivate. Of all the characters in the book these two are the loveliest. It is a real affirmation of humanity to have created two such kind and gentle and sensitive people, and to have made them so real and convincing.The careworn life of Tsuruko (first sister), the hesitations of Yukiko (third sister), the unhappiness of Taeko (Koi-san, fourth sister) all gain from contrast with the stability and happiness of Sachiko and Teinosuke. And what an evocation of the old ways of Japan. Changing rapidly even as Tanizaki writes of them.Detail by detail - Etsuko's games with the German girl Rosemarie, Itakura's leather coat, the 'old one', Koi-san's mimicry and mingled love and resentment of Yukiko...there are literally thousands of details. Teinosuke's love of Spring in his garden, the vitamin injections the sisters take, the forthrightness of Itani - all, everyone, is so precise, not random at all, chosen to evoke mood, reveal character, show milieu.So powerful and evocative has the book been - yet nothing really happens, except to Koi-san. The war approaches, the old Japan changes, Yukiko gets married - unforgettable!I've seen advertised a TV serialisation of The Makioka Sisters, but can't imagine how it could succeed. So much of the book's effect is through language. Visually, certain scenes stand out, such as the cherry blossom viewing or the flood. The narrative though is largely uneventful, small actions that dramatically and convincingly reveal a character's state of mind, early history or personality.Written with love, a strong love of people and place, the book creates love in the reader. Because of Tanizaki I have loved Osaka in the late 1930s and have learned to treasure and respect its people. For those hesitating to undertake reading such a 'Japanese' work as The Makioka Sisters there is the perfect bridging novel The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (Nejimaki-dori kuronikuru, 1995) by Haruki Murakami, which does mention the war - and Charlie Parker and 'hard-boiled' detective stories and Jungian archetypes and the surreal: a roller coaster of a novel and one of the best as well.

  • Marie Saville
    2018-10-03 04:05

    Simplemente maravilloso. No olvidaré nunca estas semanas pasadas en compañía de la familia Makioka. El tiempo parecía suspendido durante la lectura y solo existía para mi la vida entre las paredes de la casa familiar de Ashiya, los vagones de tren conectando Osaka y Tokio y, por supuesto, la cita anual para ver la floración de los cerezos en los jardines de Kioto. Cinco estrellas más que merecidas.Gracias, gracias y gracias por descubrírmelo mi querida Magrat <3

  • Magrat Ajostiernos
    2018-10-09 03:12

    Una novela maravillosa, que me ha recordado en su estilo a otras grandes historias como 'La edad de la inocencia', 'La saga de los Forsyte' o a las de Jane Austen. Eso sí, al más puro estilo oriental, pausado y extremadamente bello, poniendo atención a cada sentimiento.De las novelas japonesas que he leído, sin duda se encuentra ya entre mis preferidas.

  • Maria Thomarey
    2018-10-11 07:55

    Το διάβασα σε 5 μέρες . Αυτό .

  • Sharlene
    2018-10-11 07:58

    Originally posted at Makioka Sisters is one of the most lovely things I’ve read in a long time. That is, if one can put it out of one’s mind that life in Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s was not a fantastic time for women. This was my first Junichiro Tanizaki book and I was rather surprised at how well he wrote these women. It is odd especially as Tanizaki has a reputation for writing about characters with erotic obsessions and desires.I may have read this book sooner if anyone had told me that it was a sort of Japanese version of Pride and Prejudice. Well it is, sort of, and it also isn’t."The Makiokas were an old family, of course, and probably everyone in Osaka had heard of them at one time or another. But still – Sachiko would have to forgive her for saying so – they could not live on their old glory forever."There are four Makioka sisters. The older two, Tsuruko and Sachiko, are married and have their own families. Yukiko and Taeko (also known as Koi-San or ‘small daughter’, a common endearment in Osaka).Yukiko is to be married off, if anyone will have her. The family has already scared off several suitors, for a variety of reasons. The Makioka family’s wealth is a mere shadow of what it used to be, but still they hold their heads high and hold out for the best. Until matchmakers begin to avoid making matches. It doesn’t help that her younger sister was involved in a bit of a scandal and a minor tabloid printed this affair (must have been a slow news day), but mistook Yukiko for Taeko.Unfortunately Yukiko is extremely soft-spoken and rather pale and frail-looking, to such a point that one potential suitor even asks for medical tests to be done, to prove that she is of good health.“It was reasonable enough for such a well-behaved man to insist on an elegant, refined girl, but for some reason – maybe as a reaction from his visit to Paris – he insisted further that he would only have a pure Japanese beauty – gentle, quiet, graceful, able to wear Japanese clothes.”Poor Yukiko. She’s quiet among strangers so although she’s actually a really interesting person and quite modern in her tastes, liking for instance, Western music, she is overshadowed by her more colourful older sister Sachiko and her vivacious younger sister Taeko. It’s so bad that Sachiko is often asked to tone down her dress, dress older, or perhaps not show up at all, to meetings with prospective husbands. As an introvert, I feel for Yukiko. I so want her to be happy. I want her to be less meek and speak up but she never really does. She is quite a traditional, conservative Japanese woman, letting her older sisters and their husbands determine who her future husband is to be, never seeking the independent life that her younger sister has.It was fascinating to learn just how traditional Osaka society at the time was. Taeko, being the youngest, could not marry until Yukiko was married. As the youngest, she also wasn’t supposed to eat before her older siblings did, had to sit at a certain place at the table and so on. And to learn that Tokyo life and culture is so different and even a bit strange to the three younger Makiokas, whose society remains largely confined to Osaka, although they venture to nearby Kobe for meals and shows.The Makioka Sisters was serialized from 1943 to 1948 and was originally titled Sasameyuki (細雪) in Japanese, which means lightly falling snow. The “yuki” character or “snow” being the same character in Yukiko’s name, showing her central importance in the story. As suitor after suitor is no longer, well, suitable, one cannot help but feel worried for her, as she is certainly not the kind of woman who can survive on her own. Oh how I loved this quiet, regal story. It is gentle in its depiction of Japanese traditions vs the inevitable creeping modernization and westernization of society, the Makioka sisters representative of the old families, struggling to hold on to the last vestiges of their good name. It is a beautiful story, one that has taken me far too long to read and write about, as I couldn’t bear to leave the Makiokas’ world.

  • Nehirin~
    2018-09-26 05:52

    Jun'ichirō Tanizaki... Genelde Japon edebiyatı, yazarları pek tanınmıyor. Ki çok büyük bir kayıp. Jun'ichirō Tanizaki muhteşem bir yazar.Nazlı Kar ya da orijinal adıyla "Sasameyuki" geleneksel dünyadan çağdaş dünyaya geçişi yansıtan ve dönemine ışık tutan gerçek bir başyapıt. Tanizaki 1930'ların Japonyasını, çağdaş dünyaya ayak uydurmaya çalışırken geleneklerinden de kopamayan Japon insanını çok güzel yansıtmış. Makioka kardeşlerin bir erkeğin gözünden yansıyan ve hayatın ta kendisi olan hikâyesini seveceğinize inanıyorum.Çok severek okudum. Her kelimesinde, her satırında, her sayfasında hikâyede kayboldum ve çok büyük keyif aldım.Makioka kardeşlerden Sachiko'nun evlendiği gün yazdığı şiir..."Bugün yine esvaplarımı seçerkenBitip gitti günEvlenip giderken nedense hüzünlüyüm"

  • Laura
    2018-09-26 10:53

    A bit long but still interesting story of four aristocratic Japanese sisters in the late 1930’s, which I thought would be fun as that’s one of my favorite periods in English literature. However, these ladies might as well be living in a different century as well as a different hemisphere — their daily rituals and cultural traditions were out of another world. While the various relationships among the sisters seem familiar (probably everyone with sisters has to negotiate the bossy, the overly sensitive, the indecisive), some of the cultural aspects are decidedly foreign. For instance, it’s a disgrace to the brothers-in-law that their sister-in-law is still unmarried, because it’s their responsibility to find a suitable husband for her. The selection process, interviews, and initial meetings with the prospective husbands are arranged by an old matchmaker and overseen by the brothers-in-law. The elaborateness of this enterprise and the delicate (and desperate) balance between what is due The Makiota Family Honor, and what kind of single men are actually available, borders on tragicomedy. I found the rituals and minutiae that fill the sisters’ relatively empty days to be quite interesting, but even more interesting is the contrast between their lives and the modern world that seems to exist completely outside them. They refer in passing to the Japanese invasion of China as the “China Incident”, and are mildly pleased that in the early days of 1940 the war seems to be going well for their German friends. Other than that, they could be drifting through the 18th century instead of mid-20th century. The exception is the youngest of the four sisters, who has a foot in both the modern world (she has a job and a boyfriend) and the old world (she can’t get married until her older sister does). Each sister is drawn with subtlety and detail, and their interwoven relationships are especially compelling.

  • Al Bità
    2018-09-18 10:07

    I read this masterpiece many years ago, and still retain a great fondness for it. Set in Japan in the early 20th century in the period before World War II, it's concern is the 'fate' of the Makioka sisters who still cling to the old aristocratic attention to detail and the minutiae of life while trying to survive the period they are living in. The pace is leisurely, meditative, and beautifully written. Its overall impact, however, belies the quiet exterior: the internal emotional drama builds up almost inexorably, and becomes more compelling as one reads...In a sense, there is a feeling of loss; almost an elegy on the fading aristocratic way — yet life goes on, and it does so precisely in the attention to the little details, sometimes exquisite, sometimes irritating, but which all have the appropriate rituals and rationalisations to deal with them, no matter what. In a sense it is similar to two other great novels of the loss of a way of life: Lampedusa's 'The Leopard' (Sicily's aristocratic past) and of course Proust's 'Remembrance of Things Past' (France's 'belle epoque'). Even so, this one deals more with a way of thinking and acting that pays intense attention to what might for others appear miniscule elements. Despite (or perhaps because of) this the deep psychological realisation of the sisters is astonishingly clear and precise. There is an overwhelming sense of the frailty of humanity, yet its stoic resolve to find life meaningful and worthwhile even in small things is ultimately intensely moving.When one considers what is soon going to happen to Japan in the coming War, the final short, disturbing sentence, almost embarrassing in its detail, becomes something quite heartbreaking.

  • Jeremy
    2018-09-19 05:57

    Tanizaki has a delicate sensibility all his own, and his ability to make the incredibly complex, sensitive world of upper class Japanese courtship and sibling relations not only comprehensible but also engaging, is remarkable. I became weirdly hooked on the lives of the four sisters and everyone in their social orbit. Everything from their petty dramas to their sincere attempts to navigate a complicated social order as the specter of WWII gets closer and closer is rendered with a slow, confident style which actually succeeds because it tells more than it shows. I felt like I was living in this book for a while, amidst a quiet, old culture trying to at best preserve and at worst compromise on a hugely complicated set of social traditions in the face of a confusing, leveling modernity. Tanizaki builds this world and its people up slowly and compellingly. This is a superb, masterfully executed work of social-realism. It could stand toe to toe with almost any western novel about family life. Highly recommended

  • Andrew
    2018-10-01 11:11

    My, what a subtle, graceful thing this is. Tanizaki wrote The Makioka Sisters in the late '40s, amid the rubble and chaos of postwar Japan. The world Tanizaki describes has been destroyed, utterly and irrevocably. You can sense that this is a somewhat decadent society... the Makiokas live a life of idle wealth and appearance-keeping, constantly fretting about the youngest sister's Westernized ways and the loss of respect for old Osaka families. Throughout the book, we get glimpses that war is on its way. We hear the sisters talking about China, the German family next door moves back to Hamburg and writes about Hitler Youth. But there's no closure. Instead, the ending just hangs there. I'm not sure how I feel about that-- perhaps I would have liked to see some glimpse of military action-- but I am certainly glad that he didn't go on to include the war. I like it quite a bit as it is, heartfelt and very Japanese.

  • Dioni (Bookie Mee)
    2018-10-17 08:10

    Mee's rating: 4.5/5First published at: last book of 2017 is The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (if you want to be pedantic, it's Jun'ichirou - which implies him being the first born son, but I couldn't find much information on this). At 530 pages it's no mean feat for me, and actually took me 2 months to finish. But I'm very happy to have finally read it. This is only my second book by Tanizaki. I really liked The Key, which I read aeons ago, and I had been meaning to read more of his books. I still do, after reading The Makioka Sisters.You can probably guess from the thickness that this is a sweeping, ambitious novel. Not a family saga though! It tells the story of the four sisters of the Makioka family from Osaka, who is a respected, wealthy family, but is in the state of decline since the death of the patriarch - the father of the sisters. After the father's death, the head of the family role is taken by the husband of the first sister, who took the Makioka name. The husband of the second eldest sister similarly formally joined the Makioka family and took its name. This shows how the two men's birth family were 'below' the Makiokas, and hence they gained status by marrying into the Makioka family.In fact class and good name are the main themes running throughout the entire book. The two eldest sisters have married well, but the third and the forth sisters are yet to marry. They have to marry in order, so the last sister cannot marry before the third one does. This causes an amazing amount of troubles and may sound ridiculous. But coming from an Asian family myself, this concept of marrying in order is actually quite familiar and not uncommon. Sure in my generation, people are not strict anymore, but the preference is still to have siblings marry in order. There's a kind of bad luck attached to 'skipping' an older sibling, and a lot of the times the 'skipped' sibling stays unmarried.Tanizaki weaved some historical events into the story: natural disasters like a big flood and typhoon, and the foreboding war. It's also a period when everything western starts to seep into Japan, fashion being one of the most defining interestingly. I read Mishima's The Sound of Waves in between this book, and I could tell the setting is after the Makioka Sisters, from the clothes the characters wear! The Makiokas also befriend a few foreigners from Russia and Europe, which was slightly jarring somehow, but further emphasised that 'Westernisation' period.I haven't read enough of Tanizaki to comment for certain, but I picked up many of East meets West elements, old Japan vs. new Japan (and the author's seeming preference of old Japan). The decline of the Makioka family seems to reflect the decaying of old Japan.I reckon less people finish this book than the ones starting it because of the thickness, which is a shame because I think the whole book is a beauty. It takes some time and patience (don't read it when you're in a rush) but it's constructed very finely, building and building up to a poignant ending. I enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone with keen interest in Japanese culture.

  • Libros Prestados
    2018-10-01 11:11

    Poco a poco me ha ido convenciendo este libro. Durante mucho tiempo pensé en darle tres estrellas, pero ya hacia el final me había encariñado con los personajes y sus anécdotas, y ha terminado por ganarme. Las tres hermanas Makioka son extrañas y peculiares, con sus raras manías y su forma de ser a veces extravagante, pero al final no puedes evitar sentir cariño por todas ellas. Es de desarrollo muy lento, incluso para ser una novela japonesa. Algo parecido a una ceremonia del té: largo y en apariencia tedioso, llevado a cabo con meticulosidad, cuidado y mucho cariño, pero lleno de un sentido más profundo. Al final, este libro intenta contar cómo fue una época y una clase social en decadencia. Un mundo que se iba a acabar. Los detalles en apariencia irrelevantes, las pequeñas anécdotas una tras otra, las relaciones entre familias y clases sociales, la forma de socializar y la forma de formar una familia... Todo ello va creando una atmósfera que casi podría decirse te transporta al Japón de ese periodo (justo anterior y coetáneo a la Segunda Guerra Mundial). Contarte los diversos intentos de la familia para casar a Yukiko no sólo crea cierta trama cómica, sino que es un medio para reflejar los complicados tejemanejes en los que la persona era sólo un engranaje en la maquinaria familiar y social.Esta novela es una forma de entender el espíritu y las tradiciones niponas, que si bien han evolucionado con el tiempo, siguen manteniendo un núcleo imperturbable. Y como todo lo japonés, esconde mucho más de lo que parece en la superficie, y es trabajo del lector ir descubriéndolo poco a poco.Una novela delicada y costumbrista que guarda cierto toque de humor sutil y nos habla de un mundo que, en su mayor parte, ya no existe. Por cierto, la última frase, con la que termina el libro, creo que es sorprendente y desternillante. Nunca pensé que la terminaría así.

  • Eva
    2018-10-13 04:07

    this book tells the story of 4 sisters growing up in Osaka, Japan. In the thirties, in the eve of the second world war, the four sisters are struggling to cope with their day to day life, trying to live up to the standards of their prestigeous family. Each of them has their own struggles, problems and faces and deals them in very different ways. Although this book is not very slow paced, and in fact not much happens, I was immeresed into the story of these four sisters throughout the whole, quite lenghty novel. The writing is beautiful, the story intense, many things are left unsaid, but hints and actions indicate pereserverement of these four sisters. What is really precious about this novel is that no judgements are made, the story merely is told, and this, nevertheless, in an emotional way. While you might sympathise with one sister, another reader might be totally of a different opinion. And I bet that everyone who reads this book will have a totally different reading experience. I have found this simpleness of telling, this subjective notion of story telling, in both Japanese films and books. And I really deem it as a considerably valuable way of telling. It leaves things unsaid, and every reader can make their own mind up. Because human lives and human beings in general are complex and, therefore, books should not aim to give the whole picture of one person's live. Favourite read of the year, so far,...I guess =)

  • Israel Montoya Baquero
    2018-09-24 03:55

    Un libro para degustar al mismo ritmo que la prosa de Tanizaki: suavemente, despacito, paladeando los ambientes, las palabras...

  • umberto
    2018-09-27 03:02

    I found this lengthy novel by Junichiro Tanizaki relatively interesting with lots of dialogs as well as seemingly endless descriptions. From its 530 pages, just imagine, there are totally 18 pages each having 39 lines without any indented paragraph. However, there are innumerable pages each having only one paragraph. Some might not mind reading these but, psychologically, I preferred reading it with usual paragraphs. Thus, I amusingly regarded it as a kind of sleeping medicine and it sometime did induce sleepiness after reading such formidable descriptions.One of the reasons in reading it is that I came across an excerpt entitled, "The Firefly Hunt", one of the novel's famous passages, in an oldish brownish paperback "Modern Japanese Literature" (Tuttle, 1972) compiled and edited by Donald Keene, surprisingly, with its twelfth printing! [First edition published 1957]. As for some newcomers interested in reading Japanese literature translated into English, I would like to recommend this notable one to you and, good news, we can still find it in general good bookstores in major cities or you may place an order via any bookstore agent delighted to help you.I simply kept reading on and on hoping to read the excerpt as soon as I was reading Book 1 (Chapters 1-29) or Book 2 (Chapters 1-35) but in vain because it is not in there. So I wondered where it would be, then in fact, it is in Book 3 (Chapter 4). Disappointingly, its first two sentences in the first paragraph translated by the same translator has a bit different wording as follows:1) 1972 edition: It was a strange house, of course, but it was probably less the house than sheer exhaustion that kept Sachiko awake. She has risen early, she had been rocked and jolted by train and automobile through the heat of the day, and in the evening she had chased over the fields with the children, two or three miles it must have been. (p. 383)2) 1995 edition: The house was a strange one, but it was probably less the strange house than sheer exhaustion that kept Sachiko awake. She had gotten up early, she had been rocked and jolted by train and automobile through the heat of the day, and in the evening she had chased over the fields with the children, two or three miles at least. (p. 341)I don't know why they're different. If the latest edition needs something more precise or perfect, there should be an "Introduction" section (none) with an editor or a professor clarifying on the matter and of course its readers would be grateful.Set in Osaka before World War II, the novel subtly reveals each character of the four Makioka's sisters as a noble family, namely, Tsuruko the eldest sister acts as a senior having her authority in the main house, Sachiko does her best to help the miai [] for Yukiko to come true, Yukiko serenely endures the miai plight and helps her younger sister who is in trouble, and Taeko the youngest chooses to live the modern life she wants with ensuing hardships. I liked Teinosuke as Sachiko's husband who has done everything he can, gentlemanly, to solve any problem related to anyone in his family and sisters-in-law.In the translator's own words, "More important, it is a very good novel, something that meets the qualifications for a good novel laid down in Europe and America. It is about vicissitudes in the lives of believable characters. There is a strong tendency for modern Japanese literature to be too lyrical and personal to qualify." (Everyman's Library, 1993, p. xviii) Thus, this novel is worth reading, furthermore, the readers could learn more on Japanese ways of life, manners, problem-solving, seasonal vista, the devastating flood (based on an actual catastrophe), etc. However, there is a query made by Teinosuke on "the reasons why he had not married sooner." (p. 505) The pronoun 'he' in the quote refers to Mimaki, Yukiko's bridegroom-to-be. Sadly, I haven't found any solution to his reasonable query till the end, possibly the author might have forgotten.I think this should be enough to give you some tips of thought on reading this novel as "a classic of international literature" (back cover) and "hailed as the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century". (Everyman Library, 1993, front inner dust jacket)

  • Tra-Kay
    2018-10-07 05:09

    If you're hesitant, or have only read even a couple hundred pages, hear me out. I had to read this book for class. Otherwise, I don't think I would ever have pushed through it. It has a tendency to go on and on about fairly mundane matters, then unexpectedly rocket into an exciting event. This can make it difficult to read, and I know the unfamiliar Japanese names don't help. BUT.This book is amazing. The sensibility of the characters in general; the logical way in which they work things out, while still remaining feeling, whole people had the most excellent effect on me. It rubbed off completely, and I changed my next year's plans for the better and called a friend I've been neglecting. Just because it's like..."Oh, I'd better do this. Well that would be sensible. Let's do it."Secondly: the psychological insight of Tanizaki is amazing and profound. By the end of this book, you might as well be on the train with Yukiko.And finally, and perhaps best: those exciting bits DO increase as you work through the book, including many unexpected and wonderful scenes. All of Yukiko's meetings with prospective husbands, for one. Then there's the flood, Taeko's rebellious actions, a death or two, illnesses, cherry-blossom viewing, and an enchanting scene of firefly-catching, among others. This book will pay off in the long run. EXCEPT. For the final sentence. I will tell you it now, to make it easier on you. For me, after all my hurried efforts, forcing through this book to write my essay in time, this ending was like a slap in the face. It's, "Yukiko's diarrhea persisted through the twenty-sixth, and was a problem on the train to Tokyo."OK,'s not like one sentence ruins the whole book. I get it. He was trying to be like, "...and life goes on." What about, "The train ride to Tokyo was a long one," or, "Yukiko spent over an hour selecting a kimono." SOMETHING!!! Jesus Christ. Don't worry. Just trust me. This book is great. It's worth it. But I recommend sake on hand for that ending. I myself had to get thoroughly smashed to calm my outrage and disbelief.

  • ❤Emm❤
    2018-10-04 11:13

    A capturing in words of a lost way of life, as well as the struggles and serenity unique to it.The Makioka Sisters unfolds gently like a bud on a tree. Tanizaki tells these women's stories in thoughtful, observant prose while making no assumptions of the reader, creating a beautiful but isolated world with a tinge of sadness to its edges.You have to be prepared with patience for this drama, as it is slow-paced, but that doesn't detract from its admirable beauty as a piece of fiction. It is a glimpse into historical Japan through the eyes of someone who recalls it both fondly and longingly, who laments the problems of the era but not quite as much as the encroaching issues of modern times.In retrospect, a wistful family drama is sort of unusual for Tanizaki, who is known for decadent, semi-erotic works. You can still tell his distinct style apart from other writers, though. His writing pattern is that of an artist who cautiously, patiently translates his dreams from his mind onto paper.I highly recommend to anyone interested in the pre-WWII culture of Japan and those who love historical fiction.General - 4.5/5This review and others on Blood Red Velvet.

  • Inderjit Sanghera
    2018-09-18 10:07

    A wonderful and at times whimsical exploration of the Makioka family in pre-WW2 Japan, the slow, somnambulistic pace and prose fit well with the exploration of the day-to-day lives of the Makioka sisters and their husbands and maids. Nothing much really happens in the novel and something as quotidian as a character catching the flu is treated as a major event in the novel-but therein lies the beauty and uniqueness behind this novel. In part an exploration of the emotional inter-play between four very different sisters and in part a elegy to the now lost world of Japanese high society, with its cold formalities, calmness and reflective nature, Tanizaki is able to capture the lost world of inter-war Osaka and the foibles of all the main characters-from the impetuous and slightly childish Sachiko, to the irreverent Taeko and serene Yukiko, Tanizaki brilliantly draws the reader in on their world of tea ceremonies, marriage proposals and cherry blossoms. A quintessential classic of Japanese literature.

  • Jennifer Ockner
    2018-10-04 07:19

    The English version of this book is absolutely engrossing and beautifully written - I am extremely tempted to seek out Tanizaki's original manuscript and read the Japanese and English versions side by side. It's difficult to preserve the poetry of Japanese literature once it's translated - probably true for any language - but Seidensticker is a master at making the most of what the English language has to offer. To me, the story of the four Makioka sisters in early 20th century Japan is as addictive and well-crafted as any Jane Austen novel, but to me, Tanizaki's portrayal of the characters' very human flaws is softer, much more nuanced, and pretty well devoid of social commentary. And this is the magic of the book, to me - he is objective, yet the social dynamics of this once-revered, old-money Osaka family and their daily dramas are intensely vivid and provocative. Required reading for Japan-geeks like me, but anyone who reads fiction will have difficulty putting it down.

  • Elif
    2018-09-26 05:06

    This is a masterpiece.