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Naomi

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Submitted By Ryugun
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Naomi Summary
Summary (Literary Essentials: World Fiction)
Naomi is an ironic account of a seemingly proper gentleman in his mid-twenties who meets a young girl named Naomi, who is working as a waitress in a cafe. The story is told by its protagonist, Joji Kawai. Fascinated by her Western-sounding name and her sensuous beauty, which reminds him of American silent film star Mary Pickford (highly popular in Japan in the 1920’s), Joji decides that he intends to marry Naomi; soon he falls into a Pygmalion-like relationship as he attempts to tame this selfish and willful creature. Joji gives Naomi money for English and voice lessons, only to learn that she is less talented than he had first supposed. She refuses to do any work in the house, buys extravagant clothes, and manipulates Joji into borrowing money under false pretenses from his doting mother, who lives in the country.
Naomi next takes up Western dancing and forces Joji to accompany her to her lessons and to Tokyo dance halls. There he realizes that she has developed a whole coterie of younger male friends unknown to him. The young student Kumagai in particular speaks with Naomi in a fashion which suggests that they have been intimate. Joji’s illusions shatter; his work suffers, and he begins to lose control of himself.
At Naomi’s suggestion, Joji decides to rent a cottage for the summer in the resort town of Kamakura, south of Tokyo. He commutes from there to his job in Tokyo. Naomi seems happy with this arrangement, but Joji learns one evening that she has been carrying on an affair with Kumagai, abetted by Hamada and her other student friends. Horrified, Joji finally manages to demand that Naomi leave him, which she does. Later, talking with Hamada, Joji realizes that Naomi has duped that young man as well; together, they set out to locate her. Naomi, it appears, now goes from lover to lover, some of them Japanese, some Westerners. When she eventually does return to Joji, he is so glad to see her that he easily gives in to her demands that they now live only as “friends,” and he endures as well her sexual and psychological titillations. A slave to her outrageous desires, Joji disposes of his family property, buys a huge Western-style house in the foreign community south of Tokyo in Yokohama, and lives on the periphery of his egotistical wife’s existence, fully aware that his own life is now ruined
Naomi Themes
Themes and Meanings (Literary Essentials: World Fiction)
In this novel, Jun’ichir Tanizaki provides an ironic account of a “fool’s love” (as the Japanese title promises), but his story, given the setting he has provided, also suggests certain overtones applicable to a rapidly Westernizing Japan. Naomi is attractive to Joji not only because she is a beautiful woman but also because she seems to have all the mysterious glamour of the West. Yet despite its Western sound, her name is written with the usual Sino-Japanese characters, as Tanizaki is quick to point out. At one point, Joji manages to convince himself that Naomi has actually become a Western woman, but his illusions are soon destroyed. There are a number of scenes in the novel that suggest that all Japan, like Joji, is infatuated with a false view of Western culture, a state that can only result in frustration and disappointment. Tanizaki himself, although he never went abroad, loved Western art, literature, and ways of life as much as any writer of his generation; he was well aware at the same time, however, that his compatriots’ pursuit of a dream lying outside everyday cultural contexts could provide the basis for a mordant and wry chronicle of the times. The battle of the sexes in Naomi serves as a highly effective tool that Tanizaki uses to poke fun, sometimes with good humor, sometimes with cruelty, at the foibles and dreams of his generation.
Naomi Characters
Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)
Joji Kawai
Joji Kawai, a wealthy engineer from the countryside, an insecure man of twenty-eight when he meets and falls in love with Naomi in Tokyo. Lonely and bored, he is attracted by Naomi’s Eurasian appearance and decides to develop her into the perfect, modern woman. He persuades her to move in with him; sends her to English, music, and dance classes; buys her clothes; and indulges her various whims. Gradually, he realizes that she is unfaithful, manipulative, and no longer under his control. He kicks her out of their home but later takes her back on her terms, giving her complete freedom to make her own friends, have affairs, and live an idle, luxurious life in a Western-style house in Yokohama.
Naomi
Naomi, a fifteen-year-old waitress at the Diamond Café when she meets Joji. She is from a poor, apathetic Tokyo family and loves a good time. Under Joji’s tutelage, she becomes a beautiful but willful and selfish young woman. She frequently calls him “papa,” and he calls her “baby.” She wants no children or responsibilities and is enamored of all things Western. Joji likens her to their film idol, Mary Pickford, and at the dance at the El Dorado club reflects that she is a wild animal but vital and sensual.
Kumagai Seitaro
Kumagai Seitaro, a brash, vulgar Keio University student. He becomes Naomi’s principal lover and encourages her wild and coarse behavior.
Hamada
Hamada, a serious young student at Keio University and part of Naomi’s fast set of friends. He has an affair with her but is sensitive to the plight of her victims, especially Joji. Caught in Joji’s house waiting for Naomi, he divulges that he and others have carried on affairs with Naomi. He helps Joji find Naomi after Joji has kicked her out and urges him not to take her back.
Aleksandra Shlemskaya
Aleksandra Shlemskaya, a Russian countess who operates a Western-style dance studio in Tokyo after fleeing from revolution in her country. She exudes Western sophistication and power. Holding a whip, like a drill officer she authoritatively teaches her students to keep time with the music. Joji finds the mix of perspiration and perfume alluring and exotic. It is at her studio that Naomi meets members of the Keio Mandolin Club, four of whom become her set of admirers.
Miss Harrison
Miss Harrison, Naomi’s English teacher. She surrounds herself with pictures of her students and defends her abilities to Joji, who sees Naomi making little progress in English.
Haruno Kirako
Haruno Kirako, a beautiful actress at the Imperial theater. She dances with Joji at his and Naomi’s first dance. Naomi says spiteful things about Haruno until she joins their table, but Joji is depressed when he compares her refinement with Naomi’s vulgarity.
Naomi The Characters (Literary Essentials: World Fiction)
Joji is a surprisingly complex creation and hardly a reliable narrator of the story he sets out to tell. Although he prefers to see himself as an upright young Japanese gentleman of the old school, he is prone to unrealistic fantasies concerning Naomi in which she is at least outwardly a docile and fashionable wife, and he attempts to manipulate both her and his mother. That Joji fails to achieve any control over Naomi in line with those fantasies is certainly not from any want of trying. Naomi represents for Joji a kind of Westernized, ideal figure who can fulfill his yearning for the sort of emotional relationship which is actually impossible for him to find in real life. Joji provides a running commentary on all of his rueful adventures, revealing all too clearly how he distorts the truth, both to the reader and himself. Joji reveals some of the same human weaknesses that appear in many of the young heroes of seventeenth and eighteenth century Kabuki plays and popular novels, men who throw themselves away on wild romantic flings. In attempting to break out of his staid life, Joji, like his literary predecessors, leaves behind the prison of convention only to achieve a more private and personal hell.
Naomi, who has been described as a kind of Japanese “Carmen,” is a perfect 1920’s flapper. Beautiful, narcissistic, self-indulgent, she knows exactly what she wants and she gets it. However dubious her behavior, at least as described by Joji, Naomi has the courage of her convictions, the very thing that he lacks. She leads him on because he wants to be led, and her teasing, however thoughtless and cynical, can occur only because Joji foolishly worships her in all the wrong ways.
Kumagai, Hamada (who is also infatuated with Naomi), and a host of other incidental characters are nicely and satirically sketched, but they exist only to fill in the edges of Jun’ichir Tanizaki’s central cartoon, the battle between Joji and Naomi.

Naomi Essay - Critical Essays
Critical Context
Naomi was Tanizaki’s first popular success, which he soon followed with another highly regarded novel, Tade kuu mushi (1936; Some Prefer Nettles, 1955). In his works, he examined with trenchant irony the mixed cultural values that he detected in his contemporaries, caught between Eastern and Western ideals of behavior and morality. Later, Tanizaki explored traditional Japanese culture in his brilliant 1939-1941 translation into modern Japanese of the eleventh century classic Genji monogatari, by Murasaki Shikibu. Tanizaki then went on to write his own elegy to more traditional Japanese values in his majestic Sasame-yuki (1949; The Makioka Sisters, 1957). Tanizaki’s postwar writings continued to explore cultural and erotic themes in both modern and historical settings, often revealing a profound understanding of traditional Japanese cultural and aesthetic values. Although Naomi is an early work, set in the twentieth century, in it the author first revealed his skill at dealing with themes that were to occupy him for the rest of his creative life. Naomi can thus be seen as a highly suggestive, and altogether successful, prelude to a long, insightful writing career focused on the ultimately mysterious relationships between men, women, and the cultures to which they owe allegiance.
Naomi Analysis
Naomi (Literary Masterpieces, Volume 10)
For many Japanese readers and a growing coterie of Western admirers as well, Jun’ichir Tanizaki continues to rank as the most sophisticated and imaginative Japanese novelist of the century. Few before him have written with such elegance and wit, and few after him, with the possible exception of Yukio Mishima, have been able to link the powerful literary traditions of classical Japanese literature with the social concerns of the contemporary world. Naomi, presented in this elegant and accurate translation, shows at once how Tanizaki has earned and sustained his reputation. This work has long been admired as one of his masterpieces and, along with the six other novels or collections now available in English, helps to reveal the wide span of Tanizaki’s concerns, both in terms of style and of philosophy.
Published in 1924, about the time of the disastrous Tokyo earthquake, Tanizaki created in Naomi a vehicle for a social satire on a Westernizing Japan. In the aftermath of the earthquake, which destroyed many of the locales described so wittily in the novel, Tanizaki was to move to the middle of the country, the region of Kyoto and Osaka, where he slowly became interested in certain more traditional aspects of his culture. That fascination culminated in the composition of his novel Sasame-yuki (1949; The Makioka Sisters, 1957), written during World War II. Naomi, however, was a product of an earlier phase of Tanizaki’s work, composed at a time when so many artists and intellectuals congregated in Tokyo in order to draw as close as possible to the kind of artistic ferment they found there. Much of this excitement involved the importation of Western modes of thinking and living. High culture brought translations of Charles Baudelaire and Immanuel Kant; popular culture imported American silent films, bobbed hair, and dance halls.
Sat Haruo, a distinguished poet and novelist who knew Tanizaki well, insisted that his colleague remained, despite his frequent choice of decadent or sensational subject matter, a real moralist at heart. Naomishows Sat to be right. The original title of Tanizaki’s novel, Chijin no ai,which might be translated as a fool’s love, shows at once Tanizaki’s point of view on the relationship he creates in the novel, in which Jji Kawai, a gentle and fastidious young Japanese gentleman, becomes increasingly ensnared in his complex relationship with the beautiful, narcissistic, and intriguing Naomi. No matter how ridiculous the relationship becomes, Kawai finds himself dragged further and further into an intimate connection in which he finds himself completely dependent on this beautiful woman, who eventually manages to engulf him completely. Their final marriage is in reality a kind of financial and psychological slavery. The young man willingly places himself in a subordinate role in every aspect of the life they share together.
The setting of the novel, Tokyo from the late 1910’s until the middle 1920’s, is particularly crucial for Tanizaki, who sees the two main characters as very much a product of their times. In that sense, the relationship between the pair does show a wider symbolic significance. Kawai, in his twenties when he first meets Naomi, is very much, on the surface at least, a product of traditional Japanese values; he seems a gentle man, with good manners, who maintains proper filial relationships with his mother and treats his coworkers with dignity and reserve. Naomi, who is about fifteen when he meets her in a café, enchants him precisely because she seems to stand for something ineffable, different from anything he has ever known. Her name is actually a Japanese one that is written in Japanese characters, but to him it sounds Western. Kawai is intent on finding in her boyish charm a certain resemblance to the silent film star Mary Pickford, who was as popular then in Japan as she was in Europe and the United States. Once Kawai takes Naomi on, he finds himself completely manipulated by this modern flapper; she is altogether hedonistic and openly inconsiderate of him, showing no regard for her putative obligations to the man who will, eventually, virtually ruin himself for her. She spends his money, takes lovers, laughs at his clumsiness, and eventually runs away, all without the least pretense of apology. Some critics have described her as a kind of Carmen figure in modern Japanese literature; and in Tanizaki’s ironic mode, her Don José, far from killing her, can only grovel at her feet in uncritical admiration. Naomi has her antecedents in some of the raffish women characters in the comic novels of the great Tokugawa satiric novelist Ihara Saikaku, but she is an authentic modern creation.
Much of the mordant humor of the narrative arises from the way in which Tanizaki chooses to tell his story. Kawai serves as his own narrator. The novel is written as a kind of confession, all in the first person. The reader, following the story along, thus becomes an often rueful confidant to Kawai’s drubbings, observing him as he knowingly commits mistake after mistake. The first-person narrative style is one of the oldest devices employed in classical Japanese fiction, going back to the poetic diaries of the Heian period (794-1185), but no traditional author made use of the form for such consistently self-conscious and ironic ends. Kawai’s account thus serves both as narrative and running commentary on his own emotional state of mind. Tanizaki’s technique can thus sustain for the reader, able to observe both layers at once, a degree of objectivity that makes the tone of the story humorous rather than pathetic.
Literary historians in Japan have sometimes suggested that Naomi can be read as a kind of extended metaphor for the Japanese worship of all things Western in the popular culture of the time. Naomi as a woman certainly represents something that Kawai, for all his homegrown virtues, cannot hope to obtain. In trying to take on Western customs, and a Western-style mistress, he can only remain clumsy, and his uncritical worship of the West through these means only makes him denigrate the Japanese virtues that provide him what dignity he has. Certainly there are aspects of this worship of the West running through the story, but Tanizaki, always a master of subtle social commentary, never intended to adopt such a simplistic view.Naomi is no tract. Much of the wry tone of the novel, in fact, comes from the fact that Kawai, in several important aspects of his own life, is not a reliable narrator. His desires, particularly in the erotic areas of his psyche, are often at best half articulated, even to himself. There is a droll hypocrisy about many of his responses and attitudes. Thus, many of Naomi’s responses must be judged in terms of Kawai’s own possessiveness and self-serving sentimentality. In one way, Naomi, as sketched by Tanizaki, seems to represent Kawai’s own Freudian slip, a needed, objectified figment of his erotic imagination. She allows him to find out things about himself that he is quite incapable of articulating in any straightforward manner.
Although the novel centers on Kawai and Naomi, there are several minor characters sketched with deftness and humor by Tanizaki, and they contribute considerably to the deftness and humor of the narrative. In particular, two Westerners living in Japan are described with special panache. One is the woman who teaches the couple Western social dancing, Aleksandra Shlemskaya, a white Russian refugee who presumably learned dancing in her former social milieu and is now looking for an income in Tokyo. Limpid, bejeweled, and holding a short whip, she commands her cowering students to learn their steps as though they were military recruits. Another satiric figure is a slim foreigner who wears white makeup, William McConnell, “the Wolf of the West,” to whose house Naomi goes when she runs away from Jji. Naomi’s band of lovers, too, most of them college students, provide a winsome chorus of complaint and disappointment to echo Kawai’s longer and louder laments.
Tanizaki has created a series of satiric settings that do much to fix the ironic and amusing tone of the narrative. In particular, Kawai’s peculiar and ill-planned Western-style house, which he rents for Naomi and himself, seems a virtual symbol for a misunderstanding of the West, and such spots as the El Dorado Dance Hall are redolent with the atmosphere of imported delight that attracts Jji and Naomi alike.
At the beginning of his career, Tanizaki often identified as his masters such writers as Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe. By 1924, however, Tanizaki was himself a full-fledged master, and the tone and style of Naomi are altogether his own. Indeed, Tanizaki’s voice is virtually unique in the literature of Japan and remarkable enough in the modern literature of any country, for its suggestive, sophisticated ironic tone is used in Naomi to render to the reader a wise understanding of the necessarily ludicrous aspects of human sexual and sentimental relationships. Naomi makes a perfect companion to the more elegiac The Makioka Sisters in capturing the limits of what men and women can, in the end, make of each other.
Naomi Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)
Booklist. LXXXII, October 1, 1985, p. 193.
Kato, Shuichi. “Tanizaki Jun’ichir and Other Novelists,” in A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. 3, The Modern Years, 1983.
Keene, Donald. “Tanizaki Jun’ichir,” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era, 1984.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, September 1, 1985, p. 904.
Library Journal. CX, October 1, 1985, p. 117.
The New Republic. CXCIII, November 11, 1985, p. 36.
The New York Review of Books. XXXII, November 21, 1985, p. 23.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, October 20, 1985, p. 12.
The New Yorker. LXI, November 18, 1985, p. 171.
Petersen, Gwenn Boardman. The Moon in the Water: Understanding Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima, 1979.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVIII, August 9, 1985, p. 63.
Rimer, J. Thomas. “Tanizaki Jun’ichir: The Past as Homage,” in Modern Japanese Fiction and Its Traditions, 1978.
Seidensticker, Edward. “Tanizaki Jun’ichir,” in Monumenta Nipponica. XXI, nos. 3/4 (1966), pp. 249-265.
Ueda, Makoto. “Tanizaki Jun’ichir,” in Modern Japanese Writers and the Nature of Literature, 1976.
Vogue. CLXXV, September, 1985, p. 498.…...

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...Book: Story of Ruth Author/s: Number of Pages: Characters and their descriptions: Protagonist(s) or lead characters: Naomi: Who was left alone when her husband Elimelech and two sons died Ruth: Naomi’s daughter in law Antagonist or Opposing Characters: Supporting Characters: Elimelech- Naomi’s husband who died Boaz- had been related to Elimelech/who became Ruth’s husband then Orpah- Naomis daughter in law Mahlon and Kilion- sons of Naomi Obed: Ruth and Boaz child Setting: Bethlehem in Judah and Moab Summary: In a place called Moab there lived a nice family. Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons moved there because there was more food there than where they used to live. After a while Elimelech died but Naomi wasn't alone she still had two sons. Her sons got married but after about ten years they died too. Three of the women were left widows. Naomi was left with her two daughters-in-law and Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. Naomi called her sons wives Orpah and Naomi and told them, that she would like to go back to where she used to live and she would like them also to go back to their family where they used to live. Orpah didn't want to leave Naomi but Naomi told her not to worry, she would be fine. So Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem together. When they got there, Ruth decided that she should do some kind of work. It was......

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