The Maids, Tanizaki's final novel, sparkles like a jewel. Over the years-before, during, and after WWII-many women work in the pampered, elegant household of the famous author Chikura Raikichi, his wife, and her younger sister. Though the family's quite well-to-do, the house is small; the proximity of the maids helps perhaps to explain Raikichi's extremely close, and somewhat eroticized, observation of all their little ways. In the sensualist patrician Raikichi, Tanizaki offers a richly ironic self-portrait, but he presents as well an exquisitely nuanced chronicle of change and loss: centuries' old values and manners are vanishing, and here-in the evanescent beauty of all the small gestures and intricacies of private life-we find a whole world passing away.
Author of The Makioka Sisters, In Praise of Shadows, and A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965) is arguably the greatest Japanese writer of the twentieth century.