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Pop Master


Outside looking in
Author in Focus
Garbage Dissect Our Modern Age

Break on through
The elusive Murakami

The Postmodern in Murakamis Novels
Terrorism before WTC
Japanese writer probes souls dark kingdom
Big in Japan
The healer
Murakami shares his thougts with students
A Japanese Novelist in Search of Lost Ideals
Inner space
Haruki Murakami does Seattle
Overview of the hard-boiled fiction of hm
The other Speech
dancing as fast as he can
Tokyo Prose
A Voice from Postmodern Japan
The American Scene
Hi Mr Haruki Murakami
The Return from the Lost world
Presents from the dead


Yoshio Iwamoto
A Voice from Postmodern Japan
     
     
  1993
  World Literature Today

 

Forget everything you know about Japan and enter the postmodern world of Haruki Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase, where people sweat about their careers, drink too much, and drift through broken marriages, all without a kimono in sight.

A postmodern detective novel in which dreams, hallucinations and a wild imagination are more important than actual clues.

 
 

 

As these two quotes - appearing on the back cover and front page of the paperback edition of A Wild Sheep Chase, the English translation of Haruki Murakami's novel (Hitsuji o meguru boken, 1982) - might suggest, the author, perhaps the most popular and widely read, if not the most highly respected, among the current crop of the more "serious" Japanese writers, is frequently identified as a "postmodernist" by both Japanese and Western critics alike. The attribution somehow rings true. Still, what the term postmodern signifies exactly, and in what sense (complimentary, derisive, neutral) it is being employed, is not always made clear.

 

Cutting across a multitude of disciplines, discourse as postmodernism, originated by such European thinkers as Lyotard, Baudrillard, Deleuze, and Guatari, has now been a staple on the Western academic landscape for about the past two decades. Popular usage of the term has not lagged far behind. A recent issue of Time (31 August 1992), for instance, reporting on the Woody Allen-Mia Farrow debacle, refers to the prescandal couple as having "produced the portrait of an ideal postmodern family. Unmarried, they lived apart yet loved together." Japanese scholar-critics, taking their cue from Western pronouncements on the subject, have been no less voluble in expatiating on the so-called postmodern condition. As effort in 1987 by a group of Western scholars to draw Japan into a larger orbit of postmodern discourse resulted finally in a volume of essays, edited by Masao Miyoshi and H.D. Harootunian, called Postmodernism and Japan.

 
 

 

Representing expertise in a society of fields, the book includes, for example, an insightful piece by the anthropologist Marilyn Ivy, who sees Japanese culture in postmodern terms by virtue of the way knowledge is consumed, like a commodity, via its extensive high-tech information network. The essays as a whole raise a host of provocative issues, among them the role Japan has played in the East-West confrontation that has contributed to the delineation of the premodern-modern-postmodern dialectic.

 

The question of the literary, artistic, and cultural manifestations of postmodernism has also received considerable attention from many scholars. Among them is Ihab Hassan, whose wide-ranging inquiries into Western postmodernism (as seen, for instance, in his collection of essays entitled The Postmodern Turn,) include attempts, in somewhat abstract terms, to differentiate between "postmodern" and "modern" literary traits.

 
   
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