This is a selection of seven very discrete tales, of which three are actually short novels, which this leading Japanese contemporary has written over the past fifty years. Tanizaki is a very special writer whose tapered touch often fingers and sometimes claws special areas of experience. Of the three novellas, the classic A Portrait of Shunkin deals with the exquisite, sightless, cruel patrician woman and the dedication of her acolyte; The Bridge of Dreams is a tantalizing, incestuous fantasy-memory ontage; the 16th century A Blind Man's Tale is a wistful ballad of warring lords and samurai by a masseur-minstrel. Of the four shorter pieces, The Tattoer who wished to create his masterpiece, a spider, on the skin of a beautiful woman is considered, by the excellent translator-introducer, an ""obligatory anthology piece""; while in Aguri, the erotic enslavement, excitation and exhaustion of a lover is reminiscent of Tanizaki's last novel to be published here- The Key..... In its aesthetics, psychosexual idiosyncrasies, refined pleasures and mortifications, perhaps a special taste- but fascinating.