Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

For Western readers, Jun’ichir Tanizaki is best known for his short stories and short novels.

Throughout his career, however, he was a prolific writer of plays, essays, and translations as well. Many English readers favor his long novel Sasameyuki (1943-1948, 1949; The Makioka Sisters, 1957) as his best work. It is the story of a family’s efforts to arrange a marriage for Yukiko, the third of four daughters in a respectable Osaka family. Tanizaki has written a number of plays, and also noteworthy are his two translations into modern Japanese of Murasaki Shikibu’s Genji monogatari (c. 1004; first English translation, The Tale of Genji, 1925-1933). The earlier translation was restricted by the severe censorship during the time of the war with China; the later one was in more liberal and colloquial language.