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Naomi (1924)

by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

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8382020,367 (3.75)45
Junichiro Tanizaki's Naomi is both a hilarious story of one man's obsession and a brilliant reckoning of a nation's cultural confusion. nbsp; When twenty-eight-year-old Joji first lays eyes upon the teenage waitress Naomi, he is instantly smitten by her exotic, almost Western appearance. Determined to transform her into the perfect wife and to whisk her away from the seamy underbelly of post-World War I Tokyo, Joji adopts and ultimately marries Naomi, paying for English and music lessons that promise to mold her into his ideal companion. But as she grows older, Joji discovers that Naomi is far from the naïve girl of his fantasies. And, in Tanizaki's masterpiece of lurid obsession, passion quickly descends into comically helpless masochism.… (more)
1920s (132)
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English (17)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This is a bit like a Japanese 'Lolita'. Very cinematic. The story of a man - Jōji - and his infatuation with a Eurasian looking teenage girl, Naomi. Upon meeting and getting to know one another, both characters bond over their mutual fascination with the West. Soon, Naomi becomes Jōji's protégé and she moves in with him. He is intent on nurturing her into a 'respectable young lady'. His adoration takes form in lavishing her with clothes and expensive meals. Naomi quickly becomes spoiled and distasteful traits begin to show. We discover her mischievousness and unfaithfulness - the bane and ruin of Jōji's life. His love (however unhealthy the reader may deem it) for Naomi, is unwavering. This novel was very atmospheric and transported me to another culture and climate. It was, however, rather stifling to read - both in terms of the circumstances at hand and also in terms of the writing style. I felt myself trying to rush through and get to the point of a few scenes. The whole relationship is unhealthy and weird and I didn't find myself rooting for anyone. A feminist and PC attitude would obviously sympathise with Naomi - a young woman groomed and made subject to an older man's overpowering and constricting infatuation. However, I couldn't help but ever so slightly sympathise with Jōji - who I imagine to be a meek and rather pathetic brown-suited man - a man who subsequently has to resort to 'buying' his love from women through supplying their addiction to materialism. Naomi clearly walks all over him and he allows it because he is so hopelessly in love with her (or merely obsessed?). ( )
  Roisin800. | Sep 1, 2021 |
If you enjoy reading about men gradually emasculating themselves through male egotism, adoration and submission to a woman capable of employing both guile and seduction fully as a weapon, then you'll enjoy Naomi.

Joji Kawai, a twenty something office worker, chances upon Naomi, a sullen teenage waitress with an unusual "Western looking" appearance. After hearing about her nonchalant upbringing and taking pity upon her, he decides to settle with her, and cultivate her into a cultured modern, young woman and his image of an ideal wife. He harbours dream about living simply with her, wanting to do away with the rigid structures and hierachy of traditional Japanese households.

Little does he know that his fantasies become pear-shaped, when he manages instead to bring out the worst of Naomi's self-indulgence and coquettry towards other men. He is soon disgusted by Naomi's coarse behaviour and tendency to fling herself at other men freely, but can't quite control himself when Naomi employs her techniques on him.

Naomi eventually becomes ruthlessly efficient at her seduction of Joji, and metaphorically cuts off Joji's balls at the end.

One can't help but feel very sorry for him, although one also can't help but feel that Joji's weaknesses and ego meant that he simply got what he wanted, but without the admittance of his own selfishness, disguised as niceness. ( )
  georgeybataille | Jun 1, 2021 |
Examining the Japanese's deep obsession with postwar Western things, the novel shows us the tragic and pathetic story of a man enchanted by a woman named Naomi, mainly for her unusual and Western name and "appearance", although she is Japanese. The main character thinks that this makes her refined and, goes to the last consequences to take on the obligation to educate her in music and English in order to make her an ideal wife. A desire for her grows amid disappointments and humiliations. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Feb 24, 2021 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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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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Junichiro Tanizaki's Naomi is both a hilarious story of one man's obsession and a brilliant reckoning of a nation's cultural confusion. nbsp; When twenty-eight-year-old Joji first lays eyes upon the teenage waitress Naomi, he is instantly smitten by her exotic, almost Western appearance. Determined to transform her into the perfect wife and to whisk her away from the seamy underbelly of post-World War I Tokyo, Joji adopts and ultimately marries Naomi, paying for English and music lessons that promise to mold her into his ideal companion. But as she grows older, Joji discovers that Naomi is far from the naïve girl of his fantasies. And, in Tanizaki's masterpiece of lurid obsession, passion quickly descends into comically helpless masochism.

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