Sunday, September 14, 2008

On "Diary of a Mad Old Man" by Junichiro Tanizaki ****

This is the second book by Tanizaki that I've read involving older people who take crazy chances with their health for the sake of eros. In this case, the mad old man might be called--in fact, is called at some points in the book--a dirty old man. He's pretty dispicable and in some ways pretty pitiful, the way he lets his lust drag him around, even at his age. I suppose this is a way of saying that at least in one way he's still a young man, but it's also a way of saying he hasn't exactly matured much in his seventy-seven years. But there's also a little heart here too, for it is his crush on his daughter-in-law that gives him something to look forward to in what has otherwise become a fairly drab existence of acupuncture, medicine, and traction. Tanizaki has made old age seem quite undesirable.

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