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Thread: Haruki Murakami: Killing Commendatore

  1. #1
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    Japan Haruki Murakami: Killing Commendatore

    (Very Loose Spoilers May Appear)

    Haruki Murakami's latest novel, whose name in English appears to translate to be either "Killing Commendatore" (an Italian general) or more loosely "The Murder of the Knight Commander" (which appears to be a far less popular translation of the title) was released last Friday in Japan. As usual with Murakami's works, nothing about the plot or the novel's contents was revealed by publishers before it was sold. The novel comes in two volumes of roughly 500 pages each: Emerging Idea and Moving Metaphor. I've been trying to read through various international reviews of the book, mostly Japanese ones, and so far the book seems to be getting widespread acclaim. 1.3 million copies of the book we're printed for its first edition and before the novel had even been released publishers rushed out a second printing of 200,000 more copies. Some readers seem to believe that a third volume may come out but others seem convinced that the novel is throughly concluded. I doubt there will be a third volume, as Murakami himself stated that the novel would be shorter than 1Q84, I believe a third volume would push it past that novel's page length.

    The plot roughly (my Japanese is terrible and Google translate isn't of much use) seems to be about a portrait painter in his mid-30s who moves to another painter's vacation home in the mountains following a divorce. He's moved to this house to look after it as the other painter's father was the one who lived there and he's now hospitalized with dementia. Here he also finds a painting of the title character (the Italian general). As usual, the idea of one's soul slipping through a hole into another dimension is explored in this novel. In this one the main character enters this surreal dimension by going to this house in the mountains or by gazing at the paintings there.

    At some point there's a lengthy plotline involving a 12 year old female Jr. High student who attempts to stop meetings of Nazis in the 1930s. This schoolgirl is the younger sister of the general in the painting. There's apparently also some sort of plotline involving the Nanking Massacre.

    I'm don't really know much about which specific current Japanese literary critics are the major ones so I've just been going through random reviews. One reviewer said that Murakami focuses more on the nuances of painting and that less attention is given to surrealistic elements. This same reviewer also seemed to believe that this novel was inspired by and used the philosophical ideals of Henri Bergson (this seems like a big stretch to me).

    Another reviewer seemed to make some mention of an alternate persona of Haruki Murakami the author in real life appearing in the novel or at least a character with a similar name (a very minor character in Dance Dance Dance was like this). According to this reviewer the novel is supposed to be some sort of meditation on Murakami's life as a writer. This one seems like a stretch also, additionally this author found it disturbing that Murakami, who's 68 years old, is writing about sexuality involving a 12 year old girl and he concluded his review by saying that he wasn't comfortable reading he novel around his family. Though he greatly enjoyed it.

    The reviewer in Weekly Toyo Kezai (an economics and politics magazine) stated that the novel was "a masterpiece as expected" and that Murakami displays that he's a "literary pro" in it. He also stated that translations of the novel should greatly increase his standing abroad. He also seemed to think that there were implications of incest in the novel that weren't outright stated.

    One reviewer believes the novel is almost certainly a homage to Natsume Soseki's "Kusamakura." The plots certainly seem similar on a base level and it wouldn't be the first time he's done homages to Soseki's work.

    I'd guess that an English translation will be available in late 2018. The English translations of his work do seem to come out later than many other translations of his work (Spanish and German for instance).

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Haruki Murakami: Killing Commendatore

    Interesting desu. As far as I can see it is getting some sort of backlash from some Japanese readers for the portrayal of the Nanking Massacre which Japanese Nationalists seem to deny.

    Who knows, maybe the Nobel could finally be around the corner for Murakami?

    I might check this out when an English translation is available.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Haruki Murakami: Killing Commendatore

    Volume 1 is coming out in German this January, with Volume 2 following in April.

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