Reevaluates representations of race, sex, nation, and modernity in the work of a celebrated early 20th-century Japanese filmmaker and critic


In recent years, the impact of new media and new technologies has renewed interest in the emergence of cinema and film criticism. Yet studies to date have focused almost exclusively on Western cinema and problems of Western modernity. Shadows on the Screen offers a challenging new reevaluation of these issues. In addition to extensively annotated translations of the long-neglected film work of the celebrated Japanese writer, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, Thomas LaMarre offers a series of commentaries with an original and sustained analysis of how Tanizaki grappled with the temporal paradoxes of non-Western modernity in his film work. Written largely between 1917 and 1926, Tanizaki’s film stories and screenplays continue to delight and disturb readers with their exploration of the racial and sexual perversion implicit in the newly cinematized modern world. Read in conjunction with his film work, Tanizaki’s “Orientalist” essays betray their cinematic sources, revealing the profound links between traditionalism and cinematic modernism, between national identity and colonial ambivalence. Through the translation and analysis of Tanizaki’s film work, Shadows on the Screen provides an invaluable historical and conceptual guide both to the emergence of cinema and film criticism in Japan and to the problem of Japanese modernity.

Thomas LaMarre is the William Dawson Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at McGill University. He is coeditor (with Kang Nae-hui) of Impacts of Modernities (2003) and the author of Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensatio

“English-language readers have long had access to the translated splendors of modern European film criticism. Now it is our good fortune to have Thomas LaMarre’s masterful translations of Tanizaki Junichirô’s stories and essays about film. These landmark translations, along with LaMarre’s marvelous companion commentaries, reveal a cinematic sensibility as fully original and acute as that of Walter Benjamin’s or Siegfried Kracauer’s. A signal achievement.”--Marilyn Ivy, Columbia University

“How to think of the cinematic as an experience, beyond cinema’s Western origins and exclusively modern associations? Thomas LaMarre has provided a remarkable set of ruminations on this question through his translations of and commentaries on Jun’ichirô Tanizaki’s film stories and essays. What he has helped unveil, for the English-reading audience, is nothing less than a theory of the cinematic in Tanizaki’s work—a theory that is based not so much on a linear, developmental history of cinema as on an eccentric, perverse aesthetics, distinguished first and foremost by its explorations of the multimedia potentialities of human sensation. A provocative contribution to the study of modernity along the ‘East-West’ divide.”--Rey Chow, Brown University