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The Key by Jun'Ichiro Tanizaki
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The Key (original 1956; edition 2000)

by Jun'Ichiro Tanizaki (Author), Junichiro (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6751125,681 (3.65)23
Scintillating, elegant, darkly comic, The Key is the story of a dying marriage, told in the form of parallel diaries. After nearly thirty years of marriage, a dried-up, middle-aged professor frenziedly strives for new heights of carnal pleasure with his repressed, dissatisfied wife, resorting to stimulants galore for her: brandy, a handsome young lover. During the day, they record their adventures of the previous night. When they begin to suspect each other of peeping into their respective diaries, it becomes unclear whether each spouse's confessions might not be intended for the other's eyes. Translated from the Japanese by Howard Hibbett.… (more)
Member:claudecat
Title:The Key
Authors:Jun'Ichiro Tanizaki (Author)
Other authors:Junichiro (Author)
Info:Vintage Uk (2000), 160 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Key by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (1956)

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» See also 23 mentions

English (6)  French (3)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
A muted psychosexual thriller in its midst, Tanizaki's The Key is a strangely gripping story of a middle-aged couple who decide to write their sexual shortcomings and fantasies on their respective diaries. Bound by suspicions of adultery and deceit, what develops is a sexual manipulation each, to an extent, enjoys and inflicts/receives upon the other intentionally. And indeed this novelette would have been nothing but a real bore if only for the repetitive (inexplicit) sexual acts girded by the unconsciousness of a nightly drunken stupor but it ultimately becomes interesting once jealousy and kinks taint not only a marriage but the whole family with a future son-in-law in tow. But none of this is without dire and deathly consequences; love and lust mutate into hate and disgust. Sadly The Key fizzles out into a tiring set of diary entries to analyse the has-beens and what-ifs without any concrete message but a disappointing ménage à trois. At times, it seems done in sarcastic humour. And whilst its sexual acts provoke the question of consent's blurry role in a marriage, there is also the frustration and annoyance of the inability to fully communicate issues within the relationship; even the appalling degree people will voluntarily go through to save face is vaguely alluded to. And this may root from the submissiveness/modesty expected of women and the priority given to so-called family reputations. In the end, it's just a continuous perpetual mind game without the much needed mental gymnastics. Fantasies are not as good as our realities. Most often than not they're likely better off kept within the confines of our skulls. The key is perhaps to communicate and compromise. And don't be surprised that women are sexual beings. ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
Even more intense than I thought. I've been catching drips and drabs of Tanizaki lately and he never fails to impress me with his studies of domination and power and human relations.
( )
1 vote beckydj | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is my personal favourite of Tanizaki's work. Seductive, deceptive, and eerie; it is composed of excerpts from a married couple's diaries as they negotiate their sexual relationship and engage in an implicit power struggle which culminates in death. ( )
1 vote milkyfangs | Nov 22, 2009 |
My second Tanizaki book, and I must admit that I am not really a fan. While I appreciated the premise of this novel, it just didn't manage to draw me in - I didn't find it erotic, or even interesting. I just didn't care about the characters. While Tanizaki appeals to a wide range of discerning readers, sadly I am obviously not one of them. ( )
  ForrestFamily | Dec 30, 2008 |
So captivating it was difficult to put down. I read it in a matter of hours. Illustrates a web of erotic obsession that ultimately leads to destruction, fragmentation, and loss. I plan to read much more of Tanizaki's work. ( )
1 vote poetontheone | Sep 14, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
That [The Key] is a work of art can never be in doubt.
added by GYKM | editNew Statesman
 

» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jun'ichirō Tanizakiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Anhava, TuomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coutinho, M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hibbett, HowardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knauss, GerhardÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nolla, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sachiko YatsuhiroÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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New Year's Day

This year I intend to begin writing freely about a topic which, in the past, I have hesitated to even mention here.

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Scintillating, elegant, darkly comic, The Key is the story of a dying marriage, told in the form of parallel diaries. After nearly thirty years of marriage, a dried-up, middle-aged professor frenziedly strives for new heights of carnal pleasure with his repressed, dissatisfied wife, resorting to stimulants galore for her: brandy, a handsome young lover. During the day, they record their adventures of the previous night. When they begin to suspect each other of peeping into their respective diaries, it becomes unclear whether each spouse's confessions might not be intended for the other's eyes. Translated from the Japanese by Howard Hibbett.

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