Some Prefer Nettles and Pouliuli

A comparison of Junichiro Tanizaki’s Some Prefer Nettles with Albert Wendt’s “Pouliuli”.

This paper compares and contrasts “Pouliuli” with “Some Prefer Nettles” and highlights how the most important similarity between them is the theme of conflict between old and new. The paper discusses how “Some Prefer Nettles” consists of private conflict reflecting cultural conflict between the old and new, and since the conflict is personal, it can be resolved and there is choice. The paper then shows how in “Pouliuli” the conflict involves the future of an entire society, and the more that choice is exercised and action taken, the more inevitable is the undesirable outcome.
“In Pouliuli, history is condensed into a single character’s life, and personal experience is represented through the use of flashback techniques. The past is continually made present in this way. Tanizaki accomplishes the same through a different technique. He uses images and symbols from the old Japan to evoke the past. Ancient drama such as The Love Suicide at Amijima pervades two chapters, and partially reflects the events of Kaname’s life. He and his wife Misako do not interest one another, and the uncertainty between them reflects the uncertainty between past and present within the society. The Osaka traditional puppet theatre comprises the most important symbol of old Japan. It no longer can attract the former crowds because of film technology.”