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Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki
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Naomi (original 1924; edition 1900)

by Junichiro Tanizaki, Anthony H. Chambers (Translator)

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7111619,891 (3.78)39
Member:kitsunekon
Title:Naomi
Authors:Junichiro Tanizaki
Other authors:Anthony H. Chambers (Translator)
Info:Tut Books/Charles Tuttle (1900), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:japan, lit

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Naomi by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (1924)

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English (14)  French (2)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Set in 1920s Japan, [a:Jun'ichiro Tanizaki|6263|Jun'ichiro Tanizaki|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] illustrates the dichotomy between the traditional values of Japan and the modern foreignness of the West. Naomi follows the story of two lovers, or so one might think. The story is filled with rich, and tasty, symbolism, and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth...and not to say it's bad. Just that I didn't necessarily agree with all of the character's decisions. It blurs the line between what is considered one thing when another interpretation can totally be brought up as well. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
Joji Kawai, a young salaryman nicknamed the 'gentleman' by his colleagues becomes interested in Naomi, an exotic looking teenage hostess, and thinks to rescue her from a seedy life. He offers to support her if she will come and live with him, doing the housework and cooking. He pays for her English and music lessons and plays silly games with her at home. After a time, he proposes marriage and she accepts.

But Naomi isn't all that she appears to be and gradually Joji realizes the depth of her manipulation but is ensnared by his own obsession. ( )
  cameling | Dec 4, 2014 |
"Naomi" reminded me that I don't enjoy stories in which all the characters are shmucks. Narrator Joji, a serious-seeming engineer salaryman in his early 30s, assumes personal responsibility for raising a 15-yo adolescent girl as if she were a puppy or houseplant. Her guardians lazily accede, happy to be relieved of the burden of feeding another mouth. Guess what? The house plant not only blossoms into a sexy young and desirable woman, but also shows herself to be selfish, lazy, and not so bright. So what's a guy to do? Nothing, in Joji's case, because he is completely smitten with Naomi and persists in his original judgment that she lacks free will and can be tamed according to his vision and specifications.

The story also contains lots of east vs, west, old, vs. new dynamics of emerging changes to Japanese society and culture, which my review admittedly ignores. Separate and apart from the historical context, however, "Naomi" reads more like a comedy than a tragedy. We witness Naomi's natural growth (but with no self-awareness) into a fun-loving adult who offers little added value beyond her proven (albeit difficult to fathom) competence in bringing men to their knees. Joji, on the other hand, naturally smart though he is, demonstrates a pathetic absence of personal growth and discernment based on massively faulty premises and his absymal inability for critical thinking and self-reflection.

"Naomi" was a vivid portrayal of what and how not to be. It reminded me of the movie "Leaving Las Vegas". ( )
  EpicTale | Sep 5, 2014 |
Review also appears on my goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/354048747

"Hilarious...gleeful...shrewd commentary on Japan's infatuation with the West." - The New York Times Book Review

Did I find it hilarious? NO.
Did I find it gleeful? NO.

While it was provoking in its own way, Naomi irritated me. It wasn't terrible, but I despised the characters. If Tanizaki did it on purpose to amplify the novel's symbolism, he succeeded. ( )
1 vote wishforteax | Aug 6, 2012 |
Being his first novel, Tanizaki's Naomi is a surprisingly masterful tale of a man obsessed and manipulated, a tale of imminent decline. The protagonist Joji takes fiteen year old Naomi under his wing, and the two soon strike up a passionate love affair, with Joji at the ready to cater to Naomi's every desire. We see that most of the love, with any authenticity, is one sided. As the story advances, Naomi becomes less childish and more beguiling, more bewitching in the best and worst ways. Tanizaki uses her deceitful character as the perfect springboard to create a thick plot of growing, but subtle mystery entwined in powerfully lyrical prose. Most of the time, pitiful Joji can't even tell how badly he is being fooled. Even if he knows he is deceived, he thinks he might gain the upper hand and assert his dominance over Naomi. Tanizaki, with such grand skill as a storyteller, fools us into thinking the same. The character of Naomi, for all of her charms, is more reminiscent of Sacher-Masoch's Wanda than Nabokov's Lolita. Joji, at the end, is a castrated dog, and we as readers come to realize the power that deception wields within the realms of lust, love, and passion. ( )
  poetontheone | Jan 4, 2012 |
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I'm going to try to relate the facts of our relationship as man and wife just as they happened, as honestly and frankly as I can.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375724745, Paperback)

Na-o-mi. The three syllables of this name, unusual in 1920s Japan, captivate a 28-year-old engineer, who soon becomes infatuated with the girl so named, a teenaged café waitress. Drawn to her Eurasian features and innocent demeanor, Joji is eager to whisk young Naomi away from the seamy underbelly of post—World War I Tokyo and to mold her into his ideal wife. But when the two come together to indulge their shared passion for Western culture, Joji discovers that Naomi is far from being the naïve girl of his fantasies, and his passion descends into a comically helpless masochism.

A literary masterpiece that helped to establish Junichiro Tanizaki as Japan's greatest novelist, Naomi is both a hilarious story of one man's obsession and torment, and a brilliant evocation of a nation's cultural confusion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Chronicles the obsessive love of Joji, an engineer in his thirties, for a fifteen-year-old bar hostess who reminds him of Mary Pickford.

(summary from another edition)

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