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In Praise of Shadows


Written by Junichiro Tanizaki

In Praise of Shadows is one of the few non-fiction works from acclaimed novelist and playwright Junichiro Tanizaki. In this essay, written in 1933, he explores the difference between Western and East Asian culture and aesthetics. Themes of cultural identity, and the contrast between Western innovation and Japanese tradition are found across many of Tanizaki’s works, and he fully explores them in this essay. He refers to the West as light – constantly seeking to improve on what is there, and striving for clarity; whereas Japan is shadow – appreciating subtlety and imperfection (wabi-sabi) whilst retaining tradition at its core.

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