much English-language commentary about this book
including the description right here on GR, focuses on the aspects of this book dealing with Japan's embrace of the West. this phenomenon is only exaggerated by the English title of 痴人の愛 , which is "a fool's love." unfortunately, Tanizaki's preoccupation in his writing is not so much the West-Japan thing (which Western scholars have extended even to 細雪 --clearly about the decline of the upper class in Japan, rather than 'reaction to Westernzation' that western scholars keep saying), as is his almost-morbid fascination with sexual fascination.
Tanizaki charted masochism-sadism, senior-junior love affairs decades before Ryu Murakami or Shusaku Endo. this is a book about obsessive love, not about 'Japan's overwhelming love-hate for the West.'
look, Japanese people do not sit around all day hating on the West.
Korean people do not sit around all day hating on the West.
Chinese people do not sit around all day hating on the West.
the East-West relationship, the Arab World-West relationship; the Latin-Anglo West relationship is one of understanding cultural hierarchy; everyone knows the swedish or english blonde arriving in country is instantly higher in social standing, it's just that nothing really can change this, nor does thinking about it constantly accomplish anything. it is orientalist thinking itself to constantly read every non-West book as being about "[insert foreign culture's] love-hate relationship with the West"
yes to some degree, Japanese do feel there was some paradisical about society before westerners showed up, but that does not mean a central novel about sexual obsession is about "mediating with the West.' christ. even the translation of the title to 'NAOMI' puts all the emphasis on the western-tinged name. (tinged because Naomi can be spelled out in all Chinese characters)
okay /flamethrower off
the protagonist is a middle-class guy with middling good looks and middling amount of cash to inherit, who decides, hey, i got the idea of a perfect love affair. i'm going to grab some 14 year poor girl, and bring her up exactly to be a perfect wife, in a somewhat fairy-tale little cottage.
and then the novel begins.
it's some of middle-quality japanese male fantasy to have a middle-schoolgirl lover. who doesn't? but what makes Fool's Love great is that the obsession proceeds, step by step, in its inevitable, inexorable dimension. so.... read it! a classic!