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Thread: Murakami Haruki

  1. #1
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    Japan Murakami Haruki

    Murakami Haruki was born in Kyoto in 1949 but spent most of his youth in Kobe. Both his parents taught Japanese literature.

    Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers for his Western influences.

    Murakami studied theater arts at Waseda University in Tokyo. His first job was in a record store (which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works). Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse (jazz bar, in the evening) "Peter Cat" in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife, Yoko. They ran the bar from 1974 until 1982.

    Many of his novels have musical themes and titles referring to classical music, for example, the three books comprising The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini's orchestral overture), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann), and The Bird-Catcher (a protagonist in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (from The Beach Boys), Norwegian Wood (after the Beatles' song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole).


    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    • Hear The Wind Sing (1979)
    • Pinball, 1973 (1980)
    • A Wild Sheep Chase (1982)
    • Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (1985)
    • Norwegian Wood (1987)
    • Dance Dance Dance (1988)
    • South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (1992)
    • The Elephant Vanishes (1993) [short stories]
    • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1995)
    • Underground (1998) [journalism]
    • Sputnik Sweetheart (1999)
    • After The Quake (2000) [short stories]
    • Kafka On The Shore (2002)
    • After Dark (2004)
    • Strange Tales From Tokyo (2005)
    • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2006) [short stories]
    • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2007) [non-fiction]

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Perhaps the great overrated writer of our time. Don't get me wrong, I usually like Murakami (though I often find myself saying bad things about him just to do my little part to balance out the gushing), but the elevating of him to the status of modern giant is a total headscratcher for me. It's not his fault - and I wonder if he even finds himself tickled by it all - but amusingly surreal tales about lost souls in a pop culture wasteland just don't make for great literature. I can see that there are those who praise this "genius" just to stick it to "elitists" (like yours true) who have no real interest in the contemplation or celebration of pop culture, and may be more inclined to read a Murakami book as a pleasant little distraction after tackling something dark and heavy. It's actually been years since I read him, but they all kind of blend together for me when I try to think of individual Murakami books. I gave up altogether after Kafka on the Shore, which was so much that Norweigan derby I used to have that's been sitting in the closet for ages that I finally decided I'd had enough.

    According to a Japanese friend most Japanese with literary taste find it quite hard to fathom the fawning by supposedly respectable international journals, as Murakami (and Yoshimoto Banana) are considered to be quite mediocre, especially compared to the greats of Japanese literature. Even in translation Kawabata, Mishima, Oe, Endo, Hayashi, Akutagawa, Abe, Natsume, Enchi, etc. are just way out of Mr. Murakami's league.
    The maker of kitsch does not create inferior art, he is not an incompetent or a bungler, he cannot be evaluated by aesthetic standards; rather, he is ethically depraved, a criminal willing radical evil. - Hermann Broch

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    I can only assume that this is some form of red rag to those of us who actually like Murakami, because these comments are among some of the most condescending I've ever heard from one reader to another. This arrogance actually undermines any relevant points that Liehtzu might have had.

    I will not bother to enter a defence of Murakami's work beyond saying that I defy anyone not to be profoundly moved by Underground, in which he interviews a series of Tokyo gas attack survivors and members of the cult linked to the perpetrators. If this is considered to be a 'pleasant little distraction' I would be fascinated to hear of the 'dark and heavy' alternatives alluded to by Liehtzu.
    Check out my reading log blog - www.sweetgypsymama.com/bookreviews

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Liehtzu always pisses someone off when he makes derogatory comments about Murakami. Liehtzu has not read Underground, though has been led to believe that it is "minor" Murakami by those who are fans. Liehtzu would like to say he'd get around to it, but he already had a stack this high [Liehtzu holds hand out to about the average height of a ten year-old boy, which, since he lives in the Orient, is somewhat smaller than the average Caucasian ten year-old boy].

    What Murakami books Liehtzu has read: A Wild Sheep Chase, Sputnik Sweetheart, Kafka on the Shore, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and The Elephant Vanishes, which Liehtzu considers sufficient to have got an idea of the author's overall oeuvre, has not led Liehtzu to believe that the author should be treated with the seriousness of older, superior Japanese writers. The only real greatness Liehtzu found in Murakami was in Wind-up Bird, particularly the wartime segments, but Liehtzu finds this insufficient to alter his view that the author is mostly good for "pleasant little distractions."

    Liehtzu admits that Murakami at his best has a knack for deadpan comedy, particularly in the story "Family Affair," one of the funniest things Liehtzu's ever read, particularly a line that begins "Some people like to build toy trains..."

    Liehtzu did not mean to be "condescending," though he can come across that way at times.
    The maker of kitsch does not create inferior art, he is not an incompetent or a bungler, he cannot be evaluated by aesthetic standards; rather, he is ethically depraved, a criminal willing radical evil. - Hermann Broch

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    *applauds from the sidelines*

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Haven't seen anyone mentioning about this..

    Haruki Murakami Jerusalem Prize Speech

    'Always on the side of Eggs !'
    Jayan



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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Mr. K thinks Liehtzu seems ignorant, but, offcource, he is entitled to his opinion.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Liehtzu commends Mr.K on his valuable contribution to the World Literature Forum. Certainly Mr.K ought not feel the need to elaborate on Liehtzu's ignorance, which after all poses the danger of exposing the depths of his own.
    The maker of kitsch does not create inferior art, he is not an incompetent or a bungler, he cannot be evaluated by aesthetic standards; rather, he is ethically depraved, a criminal willing radical evil. - Hermann Broch

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    I started reading Murakami's novels several years ago with "South of the Border, West of the Sun" (by recommendation of friend of mine). I liked it. I loved the main character, an introverted, quiet man with great interest in music and books (Somehow he reminded me of myself.).

    Next I read "After The Quake" (I liked it as well), which was followed by "SputnikSweetheart" that I didn't like.

    After that came "Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World", which I absolutely loved. That gave me some boost.

    Then I read "Norwegian Wood", "A Wild Sheep Chase" and "Dance Dance Dance" which I all disliked.

    As a result I gave up on Murakami.
    The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it... I can resist everything but temptation.Oscar Wilde

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Hmm, seems like your reaction to his books is all over the place. Of the Murakami Ive read (Hardboiled, Wild Sheep, Wind Up Bird) they all seem somewhat similar. Same type of protagonist doing the same sort of activities. The writing isnt exactly mindblowing, though to be fair Im reading translations and how much of his original intent or style I dont get to see is unknown. I read Murakami for zany surreal stories, sort of a break from some of the more challenging things I read. Im not trying to slight him in any way, hes a great talent, thats just my personal opinion.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    From the ones you disliked I have to agree that Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart are two of the weakest works by Murakami. With this I'm not saying they're bad books, but they don't have the same seize that most of his novels. I could say the same from After Dark, which is a very entertaining read but it doesn't stand in the top either.
    On the contrary, A Wild Sheep Chase it's a great book, maybe you missed the spot.
    You should continue reading Murakami since you're missing, in my opinion, the best: Kafka on the Shore and Wind Up-Bird Chronicle.
    Those two are similar to Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World and if you loved this one, you'll like these ones two.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Thanks. I'll give Murakami another try.
    The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it... I can resist everything but temptation.Oscar Wilde

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    liehtzu, Mishima Yukio was a fascist neo-militarist who felt Japan had lost it's Kokutai and wished to reestablish Japanese traditionalism and used a faux and outlandish attempt at a military coup as an excuse to commit ritual seppoku.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Though he could be an excellent writer. I still wish to read his Tetratrilogy. But as far as his intelligence goes and what he believed, it puts a serious shadow on his writing.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    He was heavily influenced by the Samurai tradition in Japan. When you read his tetralogy you will understand more his point of view, specially in the second book

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    My East Asian teacher hates Mishima. The reason? Because he so popular in the west even though he was among the most fascist, and militarist of Japanese writers.

    He strongly suggested Kawabata Yasunari.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Ok, here's a question.


    the German translation of 1Q84 is to be published this autumn, and I might get a review copy. Might.
    The American one is due 2011, I think.
    SO today I was in a bookstore looking at the German Murakami translations. (apart from the Wind-up BIrd thingie which is unacceptable, since its translated via English), I looked at their language, and its SO different from the English.

    I find Murakami's prose, for example, in my copy of Kafka at the Beach, often a bit stilted, almost awkward, Ursula Gr?fe, the German translator, writes a smooth, warm yet precise German

    I don't know Japanese. What should I read? What's closer to the real Murakami?
    Last edited by Mirabell; 27-May-2010 at 01:02. Reason: drunk typo typhoon

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    That's a really good question, one I've been asking myself for long time now. I've heard English translations are not that good since they eliminate a lot of content from the original in Japanese. What I've read from Murakami in English is good, but I always have the feeling I'm missing something.
    Translations in Spanish are fine as well. Most of them are translated directly from Japanese by Lourdes Porta and I find them very well structured with a great sense of logic for Spanish language. However, as in almost every translation I've heard some bad comments about it.
    I guess we have no idea which one is best. Maybe not even the author knows. Someone who can read Japanese, and two or three more languages can tell which is the closer translation to the original.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    Murakami is pretty fluent in English and he works very closely with his translators. He first worked with Alfred Birnbaum (Dance Dance Dance, Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World and A Whild Sheep Chase). He now alternates between Jay Rubin (Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) and Philip Gabriel (Kafka on the Shore, a.o). Rubin and Gabriel split the short story translations. All three of them lived in Japan, are fluent in Japanese and teach Japanese Literature at prestigious universities in the US. In addition, Jay Rubin wrote the book Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words.

    Based on my own reading of several Murakami books in English, my opinion is that all three did a pretty good job in terms of flow and readability. Last year I took a course on Murakami and the teacher, who was half-Japanese-half-American, and who was also very fluent in Spanish, seemed to agree that the English versions were truer to the original Japanese than were the Spanish translations. Lourdes Porta does a generally fine job most of the time in terms of her own prose but, alas, many times she gets caught off-guard, ironically because of her lack of knowledge of the English language and, in particular, of American pop cultural iconography. In Kafka, for instance, she didn't have a clue of who Johnny Walker was; she also confuses the American South with South America. Details such as those mar the overall credibility of her translations.
    Last edited by Stiffelio; 27-May-2010 at 06:23.

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    Default Re: Murakami Haruki

    This, via the Complete Review
    the Literary Saloon at the complete review - 11 - 16 August 2010 Archive

    The one downside to this increase in fame is that Murakami no longer has the luxury of being abridged in translation. Previously, publishers made major cuts in his longer books -- Dance Dance Dance and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. This editing managed to disguise one of Murakami's biggest weaknesses as a writer -- his pacing. Readers must be patient as he slowly constructs reality around the characters. They take long walks, meditate on life and loss, sip glasses of single malt and listen to records. At some point Murakami breaks the repetition with a mysterious change in the world he has built, occasionally managing to shock the reader.
    well. it's not as if we didn't know about the abridgment, see also this:
    http://www.complete-review.com/revie...mih/rubinj.htm


    Major works like Underground, published in two volumes in Japan, were drastically cut in translation, and Rubin mentions the extensive cuts he made in his translation of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (while mentioning that he also handed in an entirely uncut translation, a version Knopf declined to publish). (Regarding The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Rubin writes that Knopf had: "stipulated in Murakami's contract that the books should not exceed a certain length" -- a clause so outrageous and ridiculous it's hard to believe any author would accept it.)
    Last edited by Mirabell; 16-Aug-2010 at 17:07.

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