Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Haruki Murakami "Norwegian Wood" and Scott Fitzgerald "The Great Gatsby"

To write a post about the book of Murakami, without mentioning the "Great Gatsby" did not work, because I could not separate the two books; they are so much in tune. In each novel, the story is narrated on behalf of a man, a participant of events and at the same time an observer. “So, where are the women?» you might ask. Women, in general, are present in most books. But 
in these two novels, they play a special role, they are a symbol of hope, a myth or an illusion. The protagonist of the novel "Norwegian Wood", Watanabe, often says about the profile of his beloved, as if he wants to say that he knows only part of her personality. Even when he tries to remember her he says he remembers clearly her image seen from behind.

A friend of mine pointed out on the similarities between the two novels, she drew attention to the fact that Watanabe constantly reads or mentions Gatsby, and then it dawned on me - everything fell into place, and the Norwegian forest, like a Christmas tree, lightened up illuminating the maze. I suddenly saw all that I had missed, all the depth and strength of this work.

Watanabe does not seem to be similar to the great Gatsby whom Fitzgerald describes as having "some heightened sensitivity to all the promises of life," he is different, but reading further, you realize that his actions are just the same, and embody what Fitzgerald calls "
an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person."

If Fitzgerald's novel ends with the complete disillusionment and the death of the protagonist, “Norwegian wood” has another ending - harder, more sophisicated and more shrill. Well, and Watanabe is not a clone of  Gatsby. He is very passionate, this Watanabe, but in a Japanese reserved way: strong character, an amazing maturity for a twenty years old student, and honesty. Just an example, at that time strikes, protests and discussions about an ideal society were fashionable in students’ society. Watanabe has always remained outside the singing of the crowd. After the dissolution of strikes, students would return to the school, and would diligently mark their attendance at the lectures of professors against whom they were striking. Whereas Watanabe simply remained silent when his name was called expressing a real protest.

Many say that the book is crammed with descriptions of sex, the book was even forbidden in some countries. For me, sex has passed by, it did not go unnoticeable, but it was organic, and did not spoil the impression. His one-day adventures, in my opinion, were an escape from boredom, but also an attempt to understand his friend and "normal" people. Watanabe constantly compares the current "crazy" society of Japan and a place for the mentally ill where doctors and patients are equal (doctors, by the way, look more abnormal in comparison with patients). It is banal, but the book makes you think.

So, Murakami is Yes. “Norwegian wood” is a novel about love, destruction of hopes. It is kind of a sequel to "The Great Gatsby," but unlike Gatsby, in Norwegian wood  frustration is followed by renaissance. The two books are about a faith in good and women symbolize this “good”.

More about women characters, beauty and style in my blog Notes about styling

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