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『友田と松永の話』 谷崎潤一郎

1926年に書かれた小説。1923年の関東大震災後、谷崎は京都に移り住むことになるので、京都時代の初期の作品である。とにかく面白い、の一言に尽きる。日本語はもちろん、英語(翻訳も見事です)でも、止まることがなく、物語に惹き込まれる。 語り手の作家Kはある日しげ女という大和国に住む人物から手紙を受け取る。その手紙の内容は夫が数年おきに姿をくらます故、その夫の居場所を突き止めて欲しいとのこと。そこからKの夫探しが始まる。

肉食と菜食、享楽と節制、華やかさと地味さ、恰幅の良さとやせぎすの体、都会と田舎、西洋と日本の大きな比較の傘の下、様々なものが対比される。生涯谷崎が訪れたことのなかった西洋はどう描かれるのか。谷崎が理想とした女性像とは。日本と西洋という両極の間で揺れている主人公が行き着く第三極とは。 小説を読むときには、プロットよりも文体に惹かれがちですが、この小説は両方とも群を抜いて素晴らしかったです。いつも谷崎作品を体系的に読みたいと思っていながら、1年が終わってしまいます。。来年こそは、読みます!(まずは春琴抄)

“The Story of Tomoda and Matsunaga” by Junichiro Tanizaki This story was written in 1926, 3 years after Tanizaki moved to Kyoto. The narrator, a writer called “K”, one day receives a letter written by a woman named Shigeko living in the countryside. According to the letter, her husband disappears every 3 or 4 years and is now missing again. She asks K to find out his whereabouts. That’s how the quest of K for her husband begins. This is such a page-turner with Tanizaki’s masterful story telling craft being at its highest. You can find a variety of juxtapositions as in between the city and country, the carnivorous and vegetarians, and above all the West and Japan. Japan is represented by Shigeko, who is well educated and cultivated by the family tradition. As opposed to that, the West is portrayed through characters of prostitutes who reside in Yokohama. The main character who admires the West is witty, fluent in both French and English, and a great dancer of Tango. What these three have in common is their almost unlikely and farfetched characterizations. “Maybe Tomoda and Matsunaga are really two different people after all. In terms of personality, they could hardly be more different. When one of them is around, the other is nowhere to be seen. They take turns possessing this fellow we call ‘me’”. I can see the dilemma Tanizaki was in between two poles, which makes the story intriguing all the more. If you’re a Tanizaki fan, this is a must-read! Now that I finished reading this superb story, it’s time for me to embark on my quest for Tanizaki’s works again. What an appropriate author and story to finish the 2022 sessions for Americas with. 2023 will begin with Murakami!
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