Junichiro Tanizaki’s Some Prefer Nettles is an exquisitely nuanced exploration of the allure of ancient Japanese tradition—and the profound disquiet that accompanied its passing. It is the 1920s in Tokyo, and Kaname and his wife Misako are trapped in a parody of a progressive Western marriage. No longer attracted to one another, they have long since stopped sleeping together and Kaname has sanctioned his wife’s liaisons with another man. But at the heart of their arrangement lies a sadness that impels Kaname to take refuge in the past, in the serene rituals of the classical puppet theater—and in a growing fixation with his father-in-law’s mistress. Some Prefer Nettles is an ethereally suggestive, psychologically complex exploration of the crisis every culture faces as it hurtles headfirst into modernity.