DIARY OF A MAD OLD MAN by Junichiro Tanizaki


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The Key (1961), as those who read it will unquestionably remember, was the diary of a middled-aged man's fetishistic pursuit of passion and it had a very definite (some found distasteful) aberrant fascination. This again, while told in the first person, manages to achieve the tone of the third--one of startling detachment, and it is concerned with the complete sexual aridity of an old man whose devil in the flesh still prods him with vicarious fantasies. He is 77, and from his toothless mouth to his prostate, with a severe neuralgic condition and high blood pressure in between, his many physical disabilities are recorded here with as great fidelity as is awarded his diminishing erotic returns. The latter are achieved through his daughter-in-law, Satsuko, a former chorus dancer, who indulges him deliberately; sometimes she lets the old man kiss her feet in order to secure a 15 carat cat's eye ring. This dangerously stimulates his blood pressure and finally leads to his total destruction .... Tanizaki is one of Japan's notable writers and his mad old man's self-induced pleasure-pain is charted with a precise, perverse authority.

Publisher: Knopf