Vol. 6: Translating Decadence

A Decadent Hermitage. Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s The Golden Death as a Dilettante Translation of Artificial Paradise

Ikuho Amano
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Published 2024-04-18


  • Fin de siècle Decadence,
  • Konjiki no shi,
  • Modern Japanese Literature,
  • Occidentalism,
  • Tanizaki Jun’ichirō


Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s novella The Golden Death (1914) commemorates Japan’s participation in the global circulation of fin de siècle decadence and Aestheticism. A close study of The Golden Death shows how the protagonist Okamura’s project of building his artificial paradise showcases a chaotic bricolage of European and Asian artefacts and literary masterpieces. Failing to emulate fin de siècle writers, the Japanese novella simultaneously reveals the author’s inability to formulate a clearly defined aesthetic belief through borrowing Western counterparts. This tragicomic story reflects Japan’s unsystematic reception of fin de siècle Decadent literature and Aestheticist discourses when the country’s literary circles were still under the strong influence of Naturalism.


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