Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 3 of Tanizaki Jun’ichirō Some Prefer Nettles (Ch 11 - 14)

Answer in bullet-point form six of the following (including the required bonus question). Then discuss your answers with your group.

1. Discuss the scene at Awaji. Compare this scene to the Osaka puppet play scene.

2. Discuss the three flashbacks and their relation to Kaname at present.

3. Discuss the character Louise (i.e. her personality, circumstances, background, relation to Kaname, demands, employment at Ms. Brent’s brothel, etc.). What “type” is she in Tanizaki’s mind?

4. Describe the current situation between Kaname and Misako.

5. Discuss Takanatsu. What he was he up to all along? What does his letter to Misako (182-184) reveal about his intentions? Did he have an ulterior motive all along?

6. Discuss the old man’s strategy with regard to Misako and Kaname?

7. Discuss the theme of nostalgia that runs throughout the work. Describe its many manifestations.

8. Discuss the ambiguous ending. What is O-hisa’s role here? Whose female figure is it that appears in the final passage? How do you think things will turn out?

Bonus Questions: Look for additional details that undermine Seidensticker’s interpretation of the novel as a “clash between the new and the old, the imported and the domestic” (Intro, x), as a tug-of-war between the old and new, East and West. (Hint: consider the key passage on p. 152: “In the beginning there was no east and west” (本来無東西).) Also, how does the work challenge/problematize all forms of binary thinking? Describe the numerous binary oppositions that are being questioned/problematized/subverted in the novel.

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