The Makioka Sisters

The Makioka Sisters

Paperback(1st Vintage International ed)

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Junichirō Tanizaki’s magisterial evocation of a proud Osaka family in decline during the years immediately before World War II is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century and a classic of international literature.

Tsuruko, the eldest sister of the once-wealthy Makioka family, clings obstinately to the prestige of her family name even as her husband prepares to move their household to Tokyo, where that name means nothing. Sachiko compromises valiantly to secure the future of her younger sisters. The shy, unmarried Yukiko is a hostage to her family’s exacting standards, while the spirited Taeko rebels by flinging herself into scandalous romantic alliances and dreaming of studying fashion design in France. Filled with vignettes of a vanishing way of life, The Makioka Sisters is a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family—and an entire society—sliding into the abyss of modernity. It possesses in abundance the keen social insight and unabashed sensuality that distinguish Tanizaki as a master novelist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679761648
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1995
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: 1st Vintage International ed
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 285,028
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.94(d)
Lexile: 980L (what's this?)

About the Author

Junichiro Tanizaki was born in Tokyo in 1886 and lived there until the earthquake of 1923, when he moved to the Kyoto-Osaka region, the scene of his novel The Makioka Sisters (1943-48). Among his works are Naomi (1924), Some Prefer Nettles (1928), Quicksand (1930), Arrowroot (1931), A Portrait of Shunkin (1933), The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi (1935), modern versions of The Tale of Genji (1941, 1954, and 1965), Captain Shigemoto's Mother (1949), The Key (1956), and Diary of a Mad Old Man (1961). By 1930 he had gained such renown that an edition of his complete works was published, and he was awarded Japan's Imperial Prize in Literature in 1949. Tanizaki died in 1965.

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The Makioka Sisters 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
hashford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki ¿ family pride and over-refinement Set immediately prior to WW2, it is the story of 4 sisters from an upper class Japanese family that is unable to adapt to modern times and culture. They are very stuck in their ways, and very proud of their position in society. This leads them to reject marriage proposals for the third sister, until, as she approaches 30 they start to worry that she won't make a good marriage at all. This has difficult implications for the fourth sister, who (obviously) cannot marry before the third sister does. However, the 4th sister, Taeko, doesn't just sit back quietly while her life is put on hold, she has a number of what would seem to us to be very minor indiscretions, which, unfortunately come to light at all the wrong times thus scuppering the third sister's marriage hopes time and again.This is very much a novel about a family and their interactions. And it is this that makes it interesting to read (not the plot, believe me!). They are very, very different from us (as you would expect, separated by 70 years and two continents of culture). However, in common with other Japanese books I have read (not that there are many!), I found the characterisations to be very understated ¿ I never felt that I got to know and understand the sisters personalities, and the husbands were very shadowy figures.One thing I found interesting is that both husbands of the elder girls took their wives¿ surname (Makioka) ¿ presumably because there was some kudos in it. The husband of the eldest sister became the head of the family and inherited all the family¿s wealth when the parents passed away. He didn¿t make a good job of looking after the money, but no-one seemed to blame him. Instead of giving the unmarried girls their share of their inheritance so that they could make their own way in the world, he kept all the money, but paid them an allowance.I was also struck by how little was said plainly. Every important decision had to be guessed at and decided by reading clues from another¿s behaviour or expressions. Nobody ever asked, or answered, a direct question. They were also all very passive, letting other people manipulate them into decisions they didn¿t really want to make, and being very slow to respond to situations ¿ which meant that they let opportunities slip by them.All in all, this was a rather odd read, certainly very different from anything I have read before, and I don¿t really know how to rate it ¿ so I have given it 3*s. I am glad I read it, not just to get it off my tbr pile, but to have experienced significant 20thC Japanese literature (not that I am planning to go back for another go!).
banjo123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Now I am busy trying to get everyone I know to read it.The four Makioka sisters live in Japan, just pre WWII. The sisters are trying to cling to an aristocratic way of life, while the world changes around them.The two older sisters are married, the younger two still single. A great deal of the book revolves around attempts to find a husband for the third sister. Somehow, nothing ever goes right in the matchmaking for Yukiko. The youngest sister, of course, can't marry until her older sister does.The book reminded me a good deal of [Pride and Prejudice]. Tanizaki's writing is light and tongue-in-cheek. The focus on relationships between sisters and the focus on social class are also reminiscent of Jane Austen.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of four sisters from Osaka, two married and two unmarried, in the years immediately leading up to WWII, this is the portrait of a time coming to a close and an aristocracy already in its twilight. The narrative here is slow and elegiac. Nothing much happens in the infinitesimal crumbling of the Makioka sisters' way of life but the novel is beautifully rendered nevertheless. The two unmarried younger sisters live not with their oldest sister, as would usually be the case, but with their second sister, Sachiko and her husband and daughter. The youngest sister, Taeko (or Koi-san), cannot marry until the thrid sister, Yukiko marries and so Sachiko and oldest sister Tsuruko want very much to find a match for the self-effacing but somehow stubborn Yukiko. Through the several years of the narrative, matches are found and discarded for various reasons. But with each new match, the prospective groom is somehow a less and less appealing prospect, mirroring the decline of the once great Makioka family name.While the family dithers about a match for Yukiko and she herself stays quiet about the prospect, younger sister Taeko is being seen about town with the man she ran away with several years prior, defying decorum and jeopardizing Yukiko's chances for marriage. Frustrated by the protracted wait for Yukiko to marry so she herself can marry, Koi-san quietly goes about running her own life, in spite of her older sisters' admonitions and cautions. Meanwhile scenes of placid, unseeing domesticity intrude on almost every page as Sachiko sits thinking or crying or resting in her home with only the occasional company of her young daughter to enliven the room.The three younger sisters are very well fleshed out and individual in this most domestic of novels although the reader's sympathy with each of the characters changes as the novel progresses. Japan during the "China Incident" is exquisitely rendered although very little of the gathering political storm clouds penetrate the novel's pages since the four sisters are mostly ignorant of the coming calamity, and indeed of anything much beyond their own sphere. The writing is luxurious and fulsome despite the fact that so much of it chronicles the ennui of the aristocratic housewife. This is most assuredly not the novel for people who want to have action in their novels. Almost nothing whatsoever happens here and yet somehow Tanizake has managed to make it an important and weighty nothing. Written during the Second World War, this shows perhaps most clearly, the traditions and the propriety that Japan stood to lose so clearly, really had already lost by the time of the writing. Full of faded beauty, stagnant hopes, and honor-bound duty, ancient and new, this is a tour de force.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Makioka Sisters' is a MUST on your list of books to read before you die. I could NOT put it down once I began reading this beautiful story. The author has a wonderful way with descriptions and he really gives the audience an intimate glimpse into Japanese culture and familial tradition, which I find to be so fascinating. I love how each sister has her own set of issues/questions which are addressed to completion. Do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tanizaki was a writer of multifaceted talent. In a career spanning five decades he wrote a dozen books on themes as diverse as Japanese arts and crafts to 'woman-worshipping,' a Tanizaki specialty as far as weaknesses go. The Makioka Sisters is thought by many to be his greatest literary achievement. There is considerable truth in this claim, for in The Makioka Sisters Tanizaki has distilled his authorial genius in a way that he never quite did either before or after this book. Woven around a Japanese joint family living in Tokyo and Osaka, The Makioka Sisters touches upon the essential Japan: the Spring Cherry Blossoms, The family hierarchy, the quintessential Japanese woman who is if anything verbose. The book is barely short of a visit to Japan of the 1930s, a rare feat for a book to achieve. Along with the tour-Japan theme the book has typical, Tanizaki's brand of storytelling strengths: the reader is continually surprised as the characters disintegrate suddenly or vanish altogether. Family values, which I may add seem universal, are unfailingly upheld in the book, as the reader gets a feeling that Tanizaki were secretly holding society to order. Few books can move a reader so much they produce a feeling in her akin to that of an achievement, an experience to be forever relished, an aftertaste diminished over time but never fully going away. The Makioka Sisters aroused all this in me, as it will for you, provided you are not unduly in love with your cell phone.