Home > Uncategorized > Jun’ichirō Tanizaki: A day’s work, a night’s dream

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki: A day’s work, a night’s dream

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
From The Makioka Sisters
Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker

Meanwhile the world was shaken by new developments in Europe. In May came the German
invasion of the Low Countries and the tragedy of Dunkirk, and in June, upon the French surrender, an armistice was signed at Compiègne….And then one could never know when England, cut off from the continent, would be attacked from the air, and the possibility of air raids brought up the problem of Katharina, now living in a suburb of London. How unpredictable human destinies were!

***

Perhaps she was too tired, however, for there had been an air-raid drill that day and she had found herself in a bucket brigade. In any case, she would doze off and dream of the air-raid drill and wake up only to doze off and dream the same dream again. It seemed to be the Ashiya kitchen, and yet it was a far more up-to-date American-style kitchen, all white tiles and paint, and sparkling glass and chinaware. The air-raid siren would sound, and the glass and chinaware would begin snapping and cracking and breaking to bits. “Yukiko, Etsuko, O-haru, this is dangerous,” she would say, and flee into the dining room, away from the shiny particles in the air. Coffee cups and beer steins and wine glasses and wine and whisky bottles would be snapping and cracking in the dining room too. This is just as bad – she would lead them upstairs, where they would find all the light bulbs exploding. They would then run into a room with only wooden fixtures – and Sachiko would be awake. She had the same dream she did not know how many times.

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