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Summary

"Were it not for shadows there would be no beauty."

In Praise of Shadows is an eloquent tribute to the austere beauty of traditional Japanese aesthetics. Through architecture, ceramics, theatre, food, women, and even toilets, Tanizaki explains the essence of shadows and darkness, and how they are able to augment beauty. He laments the heavy electric lighting of the West and its introduction to Japan, and shows how the artificial, bright, and polished aesthetic of the West contrasts unfavorably with the moody and natural light of the East. Dreamy, melancholic, and mysterious, In Praise of Shadows is a haunting insight into a forgotten world.

The popular translation by Thomas J. Harper and Edward G. Seidensticker is essential listening for anyone interested in Japan and Japanese culture.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1977 Leete’s Island Books, Inc. (P)2017 Naxos AudioBooks

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  • Mary
  • 26-05-18

An interesting pov

I was recommended this book by my Japanese teacher. He told me that it was a perfect example of how Japan (or the generality of it) saw the western world. I can say that I somewhat agree with the author. While it is not an analysis on the western world itself but on the USA specifically, it is a good in-depth pondering on how much damage does the USA inflict on all the societies it comes in contact with. Then again, I am tired and maybe I am rambling. Regardless, I do recommend it

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-03-18

How to listen

Listen to story at X75 to get the full effect of the story. Any faster you’ll miss the important key points.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • T. Prizer
  • 07-11-17

Powerful evocation of materiality and its aura

In Praise of Shadows is as powerful an evocation of materiality's mysterious aura as anything ever composed. In breathtaking prose, Junichiro Tanizaki articulates the vital role of shadows (or the lack of direct light) not only in Japan's traditionally austere architectural design, but indeed in the long history of the Orient itself. He beautifully unpacks the power of shadows to render even the most everyday utensils and objects enchanting. Running throughout his essay is a dialogue of West vs. East -- of the harsh luminescence of Western lighting versus the warm embrace of the East's sparse use of light. This is essential reading not simply for those interested in Japanese culture and history, but rather for all who wish to further explore the power and agency of the material world. Sheer brilliance.

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  • Elmira Cancelada
  • 22-09-18

Sophisticated intro into Japanese aesthetics

The Japanese art and design had and still has a huge influence on world. This short superbly written book explains where the Japanese aesthetics in architecture, music, theater, clothing, food has its roots. The answer might surprise you, but now I remember the dark lacquered Japanese bowls with subtle designs or golden flecks and their look makes sense.