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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea

Midori Tanaka Atkins

BA (Doshisha Women's College); MA (SOAS, University of London)


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Midori Tanaka Atkins
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Thesis title:
Time and Space Reconsidered: The Literary Landscape of Murakami Haruki
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PhD Research

My thesis examines the literary landscape of the Japanese writer Murakami Haruki, as shaped by the author’s depiction of time and space and his application of language. Incorporating what can be described as post-national cosmopolitanism, the thesis highlights the transformation of notions of individual and communal identity in the context of Murakami’s own cosmopolitanism by using two perspectives: ‘The world of Murakami’, in which a new type of literary landscape is created, and ‘Murakami in the world’, in which Murakami might be described as a cultural provocateur through his literature.

For ‘the world of Murakami’, the thesis conducts a narrative analysis, focusing on Murakami’s language, construction of space and treatment of time and history in narratives of his protagonists’ search for identity. For ‘Murakami in the world’, the thesis approaches the subject of social criticism of cultural politics firstly through the author’s position as a new type of Japanese writer within the discourse of world literature and secondly via a survey of writings by three Japanese critics on Murakami’s novels which analyzes their cultural politics versus Murakami’s zeitgeist writings.

The thesis concludes that identity formation and the negotiation of the mind between “I” and Others in Murakami’s literature reflects the author’s cosmopolitan sense of belonging. Murakami’s language renders a transnational mood and depicts his protagonists’ ambivalent emotional distance from and proximity to others. Murakami’s depiction of space and time, on the other hand, portrays the author’s own imagined space as well as Japanese cultural and communal history. His literary landscape, thus, explores a social consciousness that is located in a new sense of self, underscoring a tension between modernity and post-modernity both in contemporary Japan and on the global stage that can be described as neo-modern.