27 September 2013


As, apparently, always, Haruki Murakami is hotly tipped for the Nobel prize, but I've never read any. So I'm putting that right with, initially, Norwegian Wood and I was going to write about it. Specifically, with me on p 165 I'm wondering if the reference to Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain is too clever for its own good. Toru, the first person narrator has gone to visit his friend Naoko, who's currently living in a therapeutic community in the hills near Kyoto. He's studying German, and takes a copy of Mann's book with him. For those who've read the book, even distantly long ago, like me, it's impossible not to assume the parallel is deliberate. For those (most) who haven't, it just won't mean anything. Perhaps we'll see.

And I was also going to talk about the translation (by Jay Rubin). It's what reviewers would call "smooth", but for me that means it doesn't have any feeling of foreignness. Apart from the placenames there's very little feeling of place. Again, we may see later.

But I searched for an image of the cover, to illustrate this post, and was astonished at the variety there is. Here are some.

I suppose you could say that each different cover is a different interpretation of the book, and so, by Frank Kermode's definition, the book's a classic. Or, more mundanely, you could say that it appears butterflies are going to become significant before the book's over.

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