Jun’ichiro Tanizaki: お艶殺し (A Spring-Time Case)


The latest addition to my website is Jun’ichiro Tanizaki‘s お艶殺し (A Spring-Time Case). This is the earliest of Tanizaki’s works to be translated into English, though the English text is very difficult to get hold of, having first been published in 1927 in Japan and never reprinted. This fairly short novel tells the story of Shinsuke, an apprentice pawnbroker, who is love with his master’s daughter, an only child. She – O-Tsuya – is also in love with him but it it is clear to him that he would not be acceptable to her parents. However, she persuades him to elope, something he is reluctant to do but his passion wins over. They are aided by a pleasure boat owner, Seiji, who agrees to put them up, while he negotiates with her parents. But Seiji is deceiving them and they stay at his house for a year, while he continues to tells them that negotiations are delicate. Finally, Shinsuke is tricked out of the house where he is set upon by Santa, Seiji’s assistant but manages to overcome and kill Santa and conceal the body. Meanwhile O-Tsuya has been kidnapped and, as we later learn, sold to become a geisha. Shinsuke finally tracks her own but finds that, while she still loves him, she also enjoys being a geisha. Despite the mounting body toll, Shinsuke wants her to return to her parents and is prepared to give himself up to the police but she drags him deeper into the mire. It is fine tale of a seductive and scheming woman dragging a (relatively) innocent man down, a theme we will find later in Tanizaki’s work.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Nanosecond

    This is a Tanizaki novel I have not read. In the US it currently seems to be impossible to find, even used. Maybe this translation will eventually appear as an ebook in the public domain. I am looking forward to reading it!

    1. tmn

      I do not think that it is readily available anywhere in English. I have to admit that I cheated and read it in French, where it is available both in the La Pléiade edition of Tanizaki’s collected works and and as a separate publication.

  2. John Self

    This story/novella is now available in English, as part of a collection of three stories published by Pushkin Press as The Siren’s Lament: Essential Stories (translated by Bryan Karetnyk). So, nine years after this blog post, it is finally easy to get hold of!

    1. tmn

      Thanks. I have noted it on my main website. Interestingly, Pushkin mention the collection on their website but not the name of the individual stories.

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