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The key [Unknown Binding]

Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books (1981)
  • ASIN: B0006E1TH8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets in locked diaries 15 Dec 2000
By A Customer
The old husband keeps a diary. He writes about his physical and emotional relationship with his wife, and would really like his wife to read it whenever he is away because that seems to be the only way he can communicate certain things to her. At least that's what he writes in his diary.
The younger and more energetic wife keeps a diary. She writes about her physical and emotional relationship with her husband. She does not want her husband to know that she keeps a diary, and certainly she does not want him to read it because she writes certain things she rather not let her husband know about. At least that's what she writes in her diary.
The Key is a short novel about a couple who have reached a certain point in their marriage where they have to try radically new things in order to feel that they love each other. It is written in the format of diary entries, a format which in Tanizaki's hands is used to craft a beautifully written novel. When I reviewed Ben Elton's Inconceivable I said that this format can be very powerful if used well. Tanizaki proved this point in this novel over 40 years ago.
This novel is unpredictable and full of twists and turns and kept me wondering what's going to happen next. Since both husband and wife know that their partner may be reading their diary, it is hard to tell how honest they are in their writing. Both funny and tragic, it is great fun to read.
The Key is a well written novel about individuals and relationships. I recommend it to all of you.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small but perfectly formed 9 Mar 2006
Synopsis: The diary extracts of a middle-aged man and his slightly younger wife. They secretly read each other's diaries, using them to make up for their lack of face-to-face communication, possibly brought on by reticence, although the book leaves several other possibilities open to speculation.
Written beautifully, 'The Key' is a pleasure to read from the first page to the last. Can be read on numerous levels, although anyone with an interest in psychoanalysis will probably find more than your average reader.
Taniazaki's most stunning achievement with this book is the way he takes a complex web of relationships, a lot of bizzare sexual and mental traits, ill health and death, and wraps them all into one reader-friendly ball.
Even as things seem to come to some sort of resolution in the last 30 pages, the smallest of threads are left dangling by Tanizaki, who leaves it up to the reader whether to paw them like a cat or leave them alone.
Although a concrete conclusion is suggested, many other conclusions remain equally valid. I won't say more here for fear of ruining the book.
One thing I will say is that, while one of the central themes of the novel is sex, it is not particularly explicit. 'The Key' seemed to be more about a middle-aged couple's relationship in general (and their relationship with their daughter), rather than specifically about their sex life (but then maybe sex is 'The Key' to the door of love?). Yes, there is a lot of sex, but the author does not flim-flam all over it in the way that Anais Nin does. If you are a bit prissy, I wouldn't imagine that you would be massively offended by this; if you want erotica, you'll probably feel pretty unsatisfied after this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue and obsession 9 Feb 2009
By grr
The Key is an erotic masterpiece by Tanizaki. Erotic but not explicit.

It is written in diary form, detailing the daily lives and thoughts of a husband and his younger wife....Also it speaks of their desires, loves and lusts. When the wife Ikuko discovers her husbands dairy she finds the "key" to his soul and what exactly he thinks of her. Then the psychological games begin....does he know she reads his diary? That he loves her so much? That he gets so jealous? Who is being honest? There are so many complex relationships and odd sexual fetishes in this slim novel, it gives you a lot to mull over. Even the end could be read in different ways, as you are never quite sure with all the mind games being played. So many lies, or is it the truth?

This is a great Japanese author at his finest, Worthwhile looking at his other novels.
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