Review of the book “About Shunkin” by Tanizaki Junichiro

“About Shunkin” is a short novel by Japanese writer Tanizaki Junichiro, first published in 1932. The work focuses on the love story between a young blind man named Sasuke and his mistress, the shamisen teacher Shunkin.

The plot of the work develops around the relationship of Sasuke and Shunkin, and their struggle to maintain their love in a society that does not accept it. Through his story, Tanizaki explores themes such as love, identity, and tradition in Japanese society.

One of the most notable features of “About Shunkin” is the way in which Tanizaki uses narrative to explore Japanese culture and society of the time. The novel is full of references to Japanese literature, art, and philosophy, and the author uses these elements to create a rich and authentic atmosphere. Additionally, the work is a subtle but powerful critique of Japanese society at the time, addressing themes such as social hierarchy, hypocrisy, and oppression.

“About Shunkin”, by Tanizaki Junichiro, one of the great masters of Japanese literature of the 20th century. It is a short novel that tells the story of a love relationship between a blind woman and a virtuoso of traditional music and her disciple and servant, who dedicates her entire life to her.

The novel is written in an elegant and refined style, reflecting Tanizaki’s aesthetic taste for classical Japan and its culture. The author introduces us to the world of shamisen and koto music, typical string instruments of feudal Japan, and shows us the beauty and complexity of its art. At the same time, he reveals to us the darkest and most perverse aspects of the personality of Shunkin, the protagonist, who is capable of subduing and mistreating Sasuke, her faithful lover, in order to satisfy her whims and demands.

The novel raises a series of interesting questions about love, dependence, sacrifice, blindness and beauty. What makes Sasuke fall in love with Shunkin and give himself to her unconditionally? What is Shunkin looking for in Sasuke and in music? What role does blindness play in your relationship? What does beauty mean to them? These are some of the questions that the reader asks when reading this masterpiece by Tanizaki, which offers us a deep and original vision of human psychology and art.

Tanizaki’s prose is elegant and poetic, and his ability to create complex, realistic characters is impressive. The author also uses detailed description of objects and Japanese aesthetics to create a rich and authentic atmosphere in the novel.

In conclusion, About Shunkin is a masterpiece of Japanese literature and a fascinating exploration of love, identity, and tradition in early 20th century Japanese society. The novel is a must-read for anyone interested in Japanese literature and exploring universal themes through fiction. Tanizaki manages to link the sensuality of love with Japanese culture, and shows us how Japanese society of the time can be ruthless in punishing those who dare to defy gender expectations and social norms.


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