Autobiographies tend to reveal only as much as the subject chooses to share. In “Childhood Years,” Junichiro Tanizaki — famously impervious to ostracism — is surprisingly forthright in detailing his inner life, especially those pertaining to the germination of his sexuality.
This is less an account of innocence than a primer into the infatuation with female sexuality that would dominate his adult life and art. Rather than warping his work, it shaped and defined it. Central to the narrative are the women who were formative in his childhood years: a mother, described as sensuous, attentive, but capable of periods of withdrawal, and the young prostitutes who worked near the printing shop run by his family.
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