The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - e-book

Read from April 30th to July 12th, 2012

My rating: 3/5 stars


A good long story, strange and mesmerizing, that can be read as a mixture of mythology and fairy tales, smartly interweaving the myth of Orpheus with his "descensus ad inferos", the Plato's androgyne myth or the labyrinth myth and the story of the dragon slay or the initiatic journey of the Hero (and this is what I came up with after rapid thinking, I'm sure there are more, more other meanings!).

The sort of story that can be labelled, somehow improperly, magic-realist, for weird things happen to (apparently) ordinary people and (apparently) ordinary events reach their full signification, evidently, in the end.

I'd say, however, that the symbolism is a little overwhelming sometimes and the war parts, even very impressive, and probably meant to deepen the vision of characters and events, seem somehow artificially blended in the trama and would have made perhaps a very good different book. Of course, unless their reason is to illustrate Nietzsche's theory of the eternal recurrence - meaning that all that happens had already happened, nothing of the good or the evil or only the ordinary of this world is brand new. Like a wind-up toy, we repeat the movements generations before us already made, from the "illo tempore" of the fairy tales and mythology, to modern times with their wars and day-by-day living. From this point of view, every human being is a typology, every event a pattern, every emotion, a category.

And here we go: Toru Okada, the Hero (aka Orpheus, aka Teseu, etc), begins his initiatic journey in order to save his wife, Kumiko, the Princess (aka Euridice, aka Ariadna, etc), from the claws of her brother, Noboru Wataya, the Dragon (aka Hades, aka the Minotaur, etc) . It's a difficult journey, in body and spirit, and many things happen, and many characters are encountered, and all is confusing at first to gain (almost too prosaically, I'd say) its meaning in the end.

And how many fascinating events there are: the harrowing of hell-like well, occasioning the hero a familiarization with his own depths and powers, the labyrinth trial, meant as an exorcism of his demons and a retrieval of his way of life (and let's not forget the initial labyrinth was built in Creta, hence the name of the older sister - however, I didn't work out yet what Malta stands for), the water, springing after after the slayer of the dragon to help the hero to purify himself in a cathartic gesture, the Sheherezada-like stories with which people endlessly enrich the hero's experience - as I already said a book (maybe too) heavy with symbols (and I have no knowledge of Japanese culture to look for its symbols as well).

But, beautifully, beautifully written, challenging and bewitching. I will certainly re-read it some day.

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