The man and the two women argue about the cat. Then when they are alone and there is no one with whom to argue they wonder about the cat. Of course, none of this is actually about the cat. She's a pawn the humans use to manipulate each other or, when they are alone, a warm body on which to place their love and disappointment. I might have cried were Tanizaki not so charming, funny, and accurate.
It’s not a Love Triangle, nor a Love Square - not even a Love Slingshot. It’s a salty and delicious Love Pretzel, neatly braided around a tortoiseshell cat named Lily. And that’s just the title story. Deceptively simple and delightfully twisted, bonus tracks from this collection by a Japanese master feature Machiavellian schoolboys and a philosophy professor who is an absolute freak. You’ll lap it up like a bowl of milk.
— Jack K
A novella and two short stories reveal Tanizaki at his best and most bizarre
The three pieces in this collection—the novella “A Cat, A Man, and Two Women” and two shorter pieces “The Little Kingdom” and “Professor Rado”—are lighthearted and entertaining variations on one of Tanizaki’s favorite preoccupations: dominance and submission in relationships, complicated even further here by customs, public opinion, and comic grotesqueries. In the title piece, the bumbling Shozo is caught in the middle of an ongoing struggle between his ex-wife and her younger successor. Shozo would prefer to stay out of it and be peacefully left alone with his elegant tortoiseshell cat Lily, but he keeps getting dragged back into the battles and arguments. The result is an oddball love triangle centered around Lily, the only true object of Shozo’s affections—“one of the finest pieces of literature concerning cats ever written” (Choice).
About the Author
Author of The Makioka Sisters, In Praise of Shadows, and A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, Junichiro Tanizaki (1886–1965) is arguably the greatest Japanese writer of the twentieth century.
Paul McCarthy, Professor of Comparative Culture at Surugadai University in Japan, has translated work by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Takeshi Umehara, Zenno Ishigami, and Atsushi Nakajima.