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IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS Paperback – 1 Dec 1977

34 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Dec 1977
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: LEETE'S ISLAND BOOKS,U.S.; First Edition edition (1 Dec. 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0918172020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0918172020
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"An elegant essay on traditional Japanese aesthetics by the great novelist. A delight to read" (Independent on Sunday)

"A highly infectious essay lauding all things shady and subtly hidden" (Guardian)

"The outstanding Japanese novelist of this century" (Edmund White)

"This is a powerfully anti-modernist book, yet contains the most beautiful evocation of the traditional Japanese aesthetic... More like a poem than an essay" (Building Design)

"I am convinced that Tanizaki is one of the few great writers of our time. He is an author of outstanding stature and deserves to be far better known outside Japan than he is" (Ivan Morris) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

An intimate reflection on Japanese art and architecture from one of the country's greatest novelists. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By stevieby on 11 July 2007
Format: Paperback
This book has a foreword from someone at UCLA's School of Architecture - so perhaps that is a clue to where it is aimed.
Tanizaki makes a good argument that Japanese art (eg, lacquerware, calligraphy, gold statues, no and kabuki, etc.) cannot be best appreciated in bright, white and shiny surroundings, which he characterizes as Western. He prefers a natural diffused light, softer colours and the 'wear and tear' of wasi-sabi.
At this point in his life Tanizaki (1933) had turned against Western influence, so this is really "In Praise of All Things Japanese!" He does stray from his subject and ramble on like a 'Grumpy Old Man,' which he admits. Partly nostalgia - for he is really railing against the Japanese who had already embraced the 'bright lights' of the West, I'd say he crosses the politically correct line several times and made me feel uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, Tanizaki offers us a valuable link to a rich past, and there is still much we can learn from there. Like how a setting can enhance or destroy our appreciation of an object, a person or theatre. Or, why we should not be afraid of the dark!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By ZDDQ140770 VINE VOICE on 21 April 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recommended for anyone studying architecture, design, sculpture or art,but I've been giving it out as a general gift for years. Not a novel, butan elegant short essay regarding space, shadow, and light. Veryenlightening (pardon the pun) and will make you think about the space youoccupy in a new way, and may even encourage you not to switch the light sooften....charming and brilliant.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By RI on 10 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Some reviewers were troubled by parts of the essay that are "weird" or politically incorrect. However, this work is a preservation of a disappearing era, and succeeds in pinpointing the roots of the beauty in the things it describes. Those things themselves, then, are not as relevant as the underlying lesson in appreciating and understanding spaces, moods, customs, and the day-to-day. Here is a subtly delivered train of thought, demonstrating the gentle delineation and enjoyment of nuances that are easily and commonly ignored.

Short, cheap, and easy to read, it can be recommended to almost any thoughtful person. It is well worth taking as a companion to Tanizaki's novels, too, as an elucidation of his style of thought. (In particular, 'Some Prefer Nettles' addresses related themes of culture, custom, enjoyment and appreciation.)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
I found this book originally 4 years ago for $1 in a discount bin at a tiny, cheesy bookstore in a mall. Just for kicks I bought it and was delighted by the chance of finding it. It is a little gem that describes one man's view of Japanese culture and design as compared with our sterile Western ways. As a (then) student of an Interior Design degree, I found it to be a worthwhile read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 July 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful account of the personal experience of the author with the interior architecture and the pleasure that the emplacement of objects and the light that they catch brings to him.
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Sokay. Recommended by many of my friends who raved about it and spoke about it in hushed, profound tones. I wasn't quite as impressed. Can't really say why though. I guess I feel that it's just one way of looking at the world among many - it's just as relevant to write in praise of even, flooded light as it is to write in praise of shadows, and as a result I'm wary of anyone professing the beauty of shadowy, murky light over all else.

It's a good entry point to Japanese aesthetics, and worth a read, even if you don't like it its a very slim book and you won't have wasted much time in doing so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. A. Messina on 18 May 2010
Format: Paperback
Truly wonderful essay that depicts a nostalgic, yet attentive narrative of japanese cultural identity in modern society.
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It is so true that we see with our brains! This book speaks to my senses, to my spirit and to my brain. The language is soft, homey yet so elegant and it describes a world that is foreign to us, where we enjoy each shade of the shadows, how they calm our senses. I will keep this in mind for when I will design my own home. I have read it twice because it kind of washes my brain from this westernism I am surrounded with
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