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    BOOKEY Book Summary and Review

    Embracing the Ephemeral: Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s In Praise Of Shadows

    11. Januar 2024

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    Chapter 1:what is In Praise Of Shadows book about

    "In Praise of Shadows" is an essay written by Japanese author Jun'ichirō Tanizaki in 1933. In this thought-provoking work, Tanizaki explores the aesthetic and cultural differences between traditional Japanese aesthetics and Western modernization.

    The essay celebrates the beauty and subtlety found in the shadows, imperfections, and simplicity of traditional Japanese architecture, design, and culture. Tanizaki contends that the pursuit of light, cleanliness, and progress in the modern Western world has made it lose touch with the deep appreciation of the shadows and darkness that existed in traditional Japanese culture.

    Tanizaki discusses various aspects, such as architecture, lacquerware, theater, and cuisine, all of which embody the beauty of shadows and the concept of subtlety. He delves into the unique qualities of Japanese spaces, the use of natural materials, the concept of Wabi-Sabi (embracing imperfection), and the play of light and shadow.

    Furthermore, Tanizaki reflects on the impact of electric lighting on Japanese cultural aesthetics, suggesting that it has diminished the appreciation for shadows and transformed the visual experience. He also offers comparisons with Western culture and acknowledges the allure of modern conveniences but also expresses concern about the loss of traditional values and aesthetics.

    Overall, "In Praise of Shadows" is a poetic and introspective exploration of Japanese aesthetic principles and an invitation to appreciate the beauty found in subtle details, shadows, and the passage of time.

    Chapter 2:Author of In Praise Of Shadows book

    Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (1886-1965) was a prominent Japanese author considered one of the most important modern Japanese literary figures. He was born in Tokyo and grew up during a time when Japan was rapidly modernizing and embracing Western culture.

    Tanizaki's works often explore the conflicts and cultural contrasts between traditional Japanese aesthetics and the impact of modernization. His writing style is characterized by a delicate and intricate prose, paying attention to details and subtle emotions.

    One of Tanizaki's most renowned essays is "In Praise of Shadows" (1933), which celebrates the beauty and subtlety of traditional Japanese architecture, design, and aesthetics. In this essay, Tanizaki contrasts the Western obsession with bright light and illumination with the traditionally Japanese appreciation for restraint, shadow, and ambiguity.

    Throughout his career, Tanizaki wrote various novels, short stories, plays, and essays, gaining recognition both in Japan and internationally. Some of his other famous works include "The Makioka Sisters," "Quicksand," and "Some Prefer Nettles."

    Tanizaki's contributions have greatly influenced Japanese literature and continue to inspire artists and writers worldwide. His insightful exploration of cultural identity and the impact of modernization in his works make him a respected voice in Japanese literature.

    Chapter 3:why is In Praise Of Shadows book worth reading

    1. Unique Perspective: The book provides a unique and thought-provoking perspective on aesthetics and cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies. Tanizaki delves into the Japanese appreciation of darkness, shadow, and imperfection, contrasting it with the Western obsession with light, clarity, and cleanliness. This exploration of contrasting aesthetic sensibilities offers readers new ways of looking at beauty and the environment around them.

    2. Cultural Insight: Tanizaki's work holds cultural significance as it offers valuable insights into Japanese aesthetics and traditional arts, such as tea ceremonies, architecture, and calligraphy. Through his eloquent observations and personal experiences, he provides readers with a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and its connection to daily life.

    3. Poetic Writing Style: Tanizaki's writing style is poetic and lyrical, making the book a pleasure to read. He paints vivid pictures with his words, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the beauty and nuances of the subjects he discusses. This literary quality adds depth and richness to the book, elevating it beyond a simple philosophical treatise.

    4. Timeless Themes: Despite being written in 1933, "In Praise Of Shadows" remains relevant today. Tanizaki's exploration of the balance between tradition and modernity, the influence of technology, and the impact of cultural globalization are all topics that continue to resonate in our contemporary world.

    5. Wider Implications: Beyond its exploration of aesthetics and cultural differences, the book raises broader questions about the impact of progress and change on society. Tanizaki's contemplation of the loss of tradition, the homogenization of cultures, and the potential erosion of individuality invites readers to reflect on the implications of such developments in their own lives.

    Overall, "In Praise Of Shadows" is worth reading for its unique perspective, cultural insights, beautiful writing style, timeless themes, and wider implications. It offers readers a deeper understanding of Japanese culture, provokes contemplation on aesthetics, and encourages reflection on societal changes.

    Chapter 4: Books like In Praise Of Shadows book

    1. "The Pillow Book" by Sei Shōnagon: This classic Japanese work is a collection of observations, anecdotes, and musings by a court lady in tenth-century Japan. It explores the beauty of small moments and the appreciation of subtle aesthetic details.

    2. "Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts" by Leonard Koren: This book delves deeper into the concept of wabi-sabi, which is central to Tanizaki's work. It examines the Japanese worldview that finds beauty in imperfection, impermanence, and the beauty of decay.

    3. "The Book of Tea" by Kakuzō Okakura: This influential work discusses the philosophy and aesthetics of tea in Japanese culture. Similar to "In Praise Of Shadows," it explores the importance of simplicity, minimalism, and the appreciation of natural materials.

    4. "Hokkaido Highway Blues" by Will Ferguson: In this travel memoir, Ferguson undertakes a hitchhiking journey through Japan, exploring not only the physical landscapes but also the mindset and cultural nuances of the country. It offers a glimpse into the contemporary Japanese way of life.

    5. "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" by Matsuo Bashō: This poetic travelogue recounts the journey of the classical Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō through Japan's remote regions. It captures the essence of Japanese landscapes, the beauty of transient moments, and the philosophy of Zen Buddhism.

    6. "Surrender" by Sonya Hartnett: Set in the aftermath of World War II, this novel explores themes of loss, resilience, and the evolving cultural landscape of Japan. It provides a glimpse into the changing aesthetics and cultural norms during a period of rapid transformation.

    7. "The Lake" by Banana Yoshimoto: This novel delves into the introspective and melancholic side of contemporary Japan. It explores themes of isolation, grief, and the pursuit of beauty and meaning in everyday life, reminiscent of the contemplative tone of Tanizaki's writing.

    8. "The Bells of Old Tokyo: Meditations on Time and a City" by Anna Sherman: In this book, Sherman takes readers on a meandering journey through the streets of Tokyo, unraveling layers of history, literature, and personal reflections. It encapsulates the exploration of the city's hidden beauty and the notion of appreciating the fleeting nature of time.

    9. "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee: This sweeping family saga follows multiple generations of a Korean family in Japan. It examines themes of identity, assimilation, and the tensions between tradition and modernity. Through its intricate storytelling, it offers a rich portrayal of the Japanese socio-cultural landscape.

    10. "The Guest Cat" by Takashi Hiraide: This slim novel revolves around a couple's relationship with a stray cat that visits their home daily. It quietly explores themes of connection, transience, and the profound impact small things can have on our lives, reminiscent of the delicate observations found in Tanizaki's work.

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