The Key – Junichiro Tanizaki

The Key affected me so much that I remembered why I took a break from Japanese literature. It weirdly influences me; sometimes, I pretend to be another person for days, still thinking about the book.


Although I had set my eyes on Junichiro Tanizaki long ago, I couldn’t read his books. Finally, as I was visiting a bookstore with a friend, she said, “I found you a Japanese author!”. So I immediately got the book thinking that it was time for us to meet.

The Key - Junichiro Tanizaki

Junichiro Tanizaki is an excellent author. Although The Key is described as one of the most ordinary books by Tanizaki by his fans, it is, in my opinion, highly engaging. It explains how different and so similar human beings can be in a fascinating way; and you’ll read it in no time.

We follow the relationship between a husband and wife from their diaries. In the meantime, we read about all the unspoken feelings between the couple. It is truly unbearable. If you’re in a relationship, I’m sure you’ll understand them very well.

I understood from the first pages that I would read all of Tanizaki’s books. And if you give him a chance, you will immediately see that he is an entirely different author as well. Enjoy!

The Key - Junichiro Tanizaki

About the book: The Key

These two modern classics by the great Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki, both utilize the diary form to explore the authority that love and sex have over all. In The Key, a middle-aged professor plies his wife of thirty years with any number of stimulants, from brandy to a handsome young lover, in order to reach new heights of pleasure. Their alternating diaries record their separate adventures, but whether for themselves or each other becomes the question.

Diary of a Mad Old Man records, with alternating humor and sadness, seventy-seven-year-old Utsugi’s discovery that even his stroke-ravaged body still contains a raging libido, especially in the unwitting presence of his chic, mysterious daughter-in-law.


About the author: Junichiro Tanizaki

Junichiro Tanizaki was one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, and perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki. Some of his works present a shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions.

The Key - Junichiro Tanizaki

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Japanese Literature – A Literary Journey

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