New Publication

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Mon Jan 16 16:40:48 EST 2006

Shadows on the Screen
Tanizaki Jun'ichirô on Cinema and "Oriental" Aesthetics

Thomas LaMarre

Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies, No. 53
Copyright 2005, xiv + 409 pp.
ISBN 1-929280-32-7 (cloth), $60.00, ISBN 1-929280-33-5 (paper), $25.00. 

“English-language readers have long had access to the translated 
splendors of modern European film criticism. Now it is our good fortune 
to have Thomas LaMarre's masterful translations of Tanizaki Junichirô's 
stories and essays about film. These landmark translations, along with 
LaMarre's marvelous companion commentaries, reveal a cinematic 
sensibility as fully original and acute as that of Walter Benjamin's or 
Siegfried Kracauer's. A signal achievement.”
—Marilyn Ivy, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

“How to think of the cinematic as an experience, beyond cinema’s 
Western origins and exclusively modern associations? Thomas LaMarre has 
provided a remarkable set of ruminations on this question through his 
translations of and commentaries on Jun’ichirô Tanizaki’s film stories 
and essays. What he has helped unveil, for the English-reading 
audience, is nothing less than a theory of the cinematic in Tanizaki’s 
work—a theory that is based not so much on a linear, developmental 
history of cinema as on an eccentric, perverse aesthetics, 
distinguished first and foremost by its explorations of the multimedia 
potentialities of human sensation. A provocative contribution to the 
study of modernity along the ‘East-West’ divide.”
—Rey Chow, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, Brown University

In recent years, the impact of new media and new technologies has 
renewed interest in the emergence of cinema and film criticism. Yet 
studies to date have focused almost exclusively on Western cinema and 
problems of Western modernity. Shadows on the Screen offers a 
challenging new reevaluation of these issues. In addition to 
extensively annotated translations of the long-neglected film work of 
the celebrated Japanese writer, Tanizaki Jun’ichirô, Thomas LaMarre 
offers a series of commentaries with an original and sustained analysis 
of how Tanizaki grappled with the temporal paradoxes of non-Western 
modernity in his film work.

Written largely between 1917 and 1926, Tanizaki’s film stories and 
screenplays continue to delight and disturb readers with their 
exploration of the racial and sexual perversion implicit in the newly 
cinematized modern world. Read in conjunction with his film work, 
Tanizaki’s “Orientalist” essays betray their cinematic sources, 
revealing the profound links between traditionalism and cinematic 
modernism, between national identity and colonial ambivalence. Through 
the translation and analysis of Tanizaki’s film work, Shadows on the 
Screen provides an invaluable historical and conceptual guide both to 
the emergence of cinema and film criticism in Japan and to the problem 
of Japanese modernity.

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