translation, cultural studies, popular culture, Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin, Alfred Birnbaum, Norwegian Wood
Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood (1987) veers from his favored detective-fiction genre by offering readers a 1960s coming-of-age romance, a story whose plot nonetheless spins around the protagonist seeking out his personal identity. The conflicts between Japanese tradition and modern, global perspectives are illustrated through the inclusion of popular culture elements such as music, literature and films. This thesis seeks to show how the novel's references to popular culture of the 1960s combine to help the protagonist establish an identity for himself as well as his place within the universal community. First, though, the project explores the impact of the translatability issues that arise with each of the novel's two English translations, variations dictated by the needs of differing audiences. The introduction provides an overview of the study, as well as historical background pertinent to the understanding of the Sixties-era popular culture iconography privileged by Murakami. My methodology favors a cultural studies approach and utilizes reader response and reception theories. Separate chapters then compare specifics between the two translations and examine the functionality and significance of music, literature and film within the novel. The conclusion justifies the subsequent deviations between the translations and argues for the necessity and value of both English versions, but claims Rubin's as the definitive English translation. Likewise, the study of the novel's many popular culture references exemplifies the roles that music, books, and film play in the creation of the protagonist's individual identity in Norwegian Wood while simultaneously illustrating the effectiveness of using globally recognizable media as a bridge between cultures.
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Murphy, Patrick D.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Zuromski, Jacquelyn, "Getting To The Pulp Of Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood: Translatability and the Role of Popular Culture" (2004). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 270.