A Cat, A Man, and Two Women
by Junichiro Tanizaki
Translated from the Japanese by Paul McCarthy
The three pieces in this collections—the novella “A Cat, A Man, and Two Women” and two shorter pieces, “The Little Kingdom” and “Professor Rado”—are lighthearted and entertaining variations on one of Tanizaki’s favorite preoccupations: dominance and submission in relationships, complicated here by customs, public opinion, and comic grotesqueries.
In the title piece, the bumbling Shozo is caught in the middle of an ongoing struggle between his ex-wife and her younger successor. Shozo would prefer to stay out of it and be peacefully left alone with his elegant tortoiseshell cat, Lily, but he keeps getting dragged back into the battles and arguments. The result is an oddball love triangle centered around Lily, the only true object of Shozo’s affections—“one of the finest pieces of literature concerning cats ever written” (Choice).