then, from which it was virtually impossible to
withdraw gracefully, but once Yukiko said no,
her older sister and Tatsuo could take turns at
talking themselves hoarse and still have no hope
of moving her. she said no to the end. Tatsuo
had been especially pleased with the proposed
match because he was sure it was one of which
his dead fatherinlaw would have approved, and
his disappointment was therefore great. What
upset him most of all was the fact that one of the
executives in his bank had acted as gobetween.
poor Tatsuo wondered what he could possibly
say to the man. if Yukiko had reasonable objec
tions, of course, it would be another matter, but
this searching out of minor faults—the fellow
did not have an intelligent face, she said—and
giving them as reasons for airily dismissing a
proposal of a sort not likely to come again: it
could only be explained by Yukiko’s willfulness.
or, if one chose to harbor such suspicions, it was
not impossible to conclude that she had acted
deliberately to embarrass her brotherinlaw.
Tatsuo had apparently learned his lesson.
When someone came with a proposal, he lis
tened carefully. He no longer went out himself
in search of a husband for Yukiko, however, and
he tried whenever possible to avoid putting
himself forward in marriage negotiations.
Tanizaki Juni’chirō, from The Makioka sisters.
Born into the Tokyo merchant class in 1886, Tanizaki
as a young writer in the 1910s drew inspiration from
Western authors—among them Edgar Allan Poe
and Charles Baudelaire—while later in his career
he embraced older Japanese models, translating into
modern language the eleventh-century novel The
Tale of genji by Murasaki Shikibu. Between 1943
and 1948, he serially published sisters, a story of the
clash between modern and traditional lifestyles. He
died at the age of seventy-nine in 1965.