In Praise of Shadows

I wonder who`s idea was it to translate this book into Latvia. You see, "In praise of shadows" is an essay in which Tanizaki, one of the most important Japanese writers of the 20th century discusses the differences between Eastern and Western aesthetics. To summarize everything in one sentence: while Japanese (and other orientals) prefer shadow to light, westerners prefer light and as in the modern world it`s the westerners who dictate the rules Japanese are slowly losing their identity and tradition.
This essay is written in the most typical Japanese fashion - it`s poetic and it`s more about the words Tanizaki uses than about what he actually means to say (as there isn`t that much to say on this subject anyway). Some of his points seem bizarre to me - for example, he speculates that if science were mostly evolved by Japanese even laws of physics could eventually be different than what they are now (although he admits that science isn`t a subject that he knows much about).
If I had more interest in the collision between Eastern and Western culture, perhaps I would find this book more rewarding but as it is, it seems to me that this is one book that absolutely needed no publishing in Latvian (especially considering that Tanizaki has written lots of more important books which don`t have a Latvian translation yet). At least I wouldn`t recommend it as a must-read to anyone, because for Japano-maniacs everything that he writes about is clear anyway but for the rest it just doesn`t matter. Plus I sense that mostly this book is designed for Japanese people with a tendence to forget their heritage and it is meant as some sort of a guide book for Japanese and for a simple Latvian boy like me it is a simple waste of time.
2008-01-06
5.5
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