Ganna Hurley Zachary Hyde English 1101 9 October 2011 WORLDS OF JOHN FOWLES AND HARUKI MURAKAMI There

are books where everything is explained and everything fits neatly into place by the end page, and there are also books where meaning always seems to be out of reach, giving the reader more questions than answers and leaving them the room for imagination. The latter are for people who are not afraid of challenging books and enjoy “reading experience” itself and agree with the adage: “it‟s not the destination, it‟s the journey”. And, if the readers are looking to push boundaries of literal reality and ready to submerge themselves in the whirlpool of life‟s mysteries, rather than be offered a superficial solution, I would suggest them to read two masterpieces of contemporary literature: “The Magus” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”. Written by completely opposite writers: John Fowles and Haruki Murakami, these two novels have a lot similarities in plot, characters, and themes. John Fowles and Haruki Murakami belong to different generations. They are essentially different in national, historical, spiritual, cultural traditions. Fowles is English and Murakami is Japanese. Haruki Murakami starts with Dostoyevsky when talking about his list of teachers in all his interviews: “My goal is „The Brothers Karamazov‟. In my opinion, it is a perfect piece. I‟d love to write my best work on the same level of depth”( Fesyun interview). He also mentions Kobo Abe, Frantz Kafka, Fitzgerald, but never John Fowles. In 2002 in the interview with him, Murakami defines “his writing” as some kind of “mix” influenced by Russian literature of the

describing the horrifying killings that occurred during Nazi‟s occupation of a remote island in Greece. One of John Fowles‟ characters states. after taking up a teaching position on a Greek island. so does Fowles. . Phraxos. Flaubert. While following the sequence of events set in the 1980s.Up Bird Chronicle” are symbolic novels with a twisting and bizarre story that melds fact with fiction. Both of them are trying to find the exit through the long surreal self-searching labyrinth. past with present. striving to put the pieces back together. He‟s led into an alternate world that may be a dream. A story of Haruki Murakami‟s character begins with a strange phone call and pulls Toru Okada out of his ordinary life of making spaghetti and listening to jazz. which could be either psychological mind games or supernatural events. and Soviet Labor camps in Siberia. in our solitary rooms where the phone never rings” (Fowles 331). It's nearly impossible to tell where one ends and another begins. On the contrary. “The Magus” and “The Wind . Fowles‟ main character. Murakami takes his readers back to Japan's military occupation of Manchuria before and during World War II. reality with imagination. Moliere. W. Shakespeare. interweaved with both reality and illusion.Hurley 2 19th century and American prose of the 20th century and admits that he “didn‟t generally read Japanese literature”( Kovalenin interview). filled with strange and interesting happenings. finds himself caught up in the darkest of psychological games. Their plot is both simple and complex. Fowles‟ literary taste was shaped by ancient literature. both of them were able to give the world of literature highly sensual and thought-provoking novels. a parallel universe. Dickens. Golding and many other representatives of English and French literature. “… we too are waiting. Nevertheless. or a true reality. especially in reconnecting with their loved ones: Toru‟s wife Kumiko and Nicholas‟s girlfriend Allison. Nicholas Urfe. though Nicholas lives in the 1950s.

compelled by events to take responsibility for their actions and struggle with their essentially passive and selfish nature . Defining oneself gives a chance to gain his or her freedom. Conchis‟ life experience can be compared to Lieutenant Mamiya‟s one. which dwell in the labyrinth under a mask of a master trickster Maurice Conchis and a devil-like politician Noboru Wataya. the only way for a person to take a step closer to real self is to grasp the deepest motives of his or her desires and the origin of unconscious movements of one‟s soul. finally. Both of them have split personalities. In both instances. At first. witnessing the raw evil of wars: Conchis is made to watch tortures of captured Greek partisans and Lt. and have the courage to get rid of all conventionalities.Hurley 3 It‟s also very exciting to draw the parallels between characters in these books. Conchis states. Nicholas Urfe and Toru Okada are protagonists. The theme of exploration of human complexities allows us to compare “The Magus” and “The Wind . Fowles‟ S. Islands in the ocean. which appears to be the only possible way to distinguish one‟s identity. “… learn to be what you really are” (Fawles 203).his brother-in-arms‟ skinning alive. both of them are not recognized as alter ego of main characters and seem to be independent characters almost till the end of the novels.” and later he gives advice to Nicholas. In turn. “is it possible. the right to love and ability to understand each other. Colonel Dietrich Wimmel is the same cynical murderer in “white gloves” as Murakami‟s Soviet agent Boris the Manskinner. Both writers manage to stay oddly distant from their characters yet also incredibly intimate.Up Bird Chronicle” as well. his or her existence and the sense of isolation. wells in the desert or dark locked doors are Fowles and Murakami‟s symbolic identification of a human being. They imply the tragedy of human loneliness. Both of them go through the transformation. Mamiya . . “any of us is an island.S. Toru asks himself. for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?”( Murakami 24).

and there are aspects and images that cannot be removed. following the crowd. there you are” (Murakami 51). Maurice Conchis. “The Wind – Up Bird Chronicle” and “The Magus” are everything a good novel should be. after his wife Kumiko leaves him. He is a symbol of dark and hated “thing” of the human nature. and then re-read. He experiences no emotions even in the minutes of the most challenging situations. It should require an active participation from readers. The villa reminds Nicholas Urfe of a skull: “The house was as quiet as death. Phantoms of Nicholas Urfe‟s subconscious are his pride and emotional indifference. a mysterious and elusive genius. In the dark locked room on the bottom of the dried-up well Toru Okada meets his “beast “of the labyrinth – Noboru Wataya. Both Fowles and Murakami mean the same thing: a quest for self-discovery only reaches its goal when a person is sincere in rejecting oneself. Noboru Wataya is a dark side of Toru Okada. whose presence the main character discovers in his well. leaving no creep holes and facing his or her “phantoms” in the personal darkness. These books deserve to be read. . In “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” a well is a metaphoric symbol of subconscious.Hurley 4 Honda-san also teaches Toru. as the inside of a skull” (Fowles 50) . Both of them are a feast for minds. Conchis‟s lessons and experiments are Urfe‟s own voice. a man who keeps Toru‟s wife as a hostage. Some characters' dilemma becomes theirs. “abandon the self. living in his personal darkness. feeding his fears and flourishing from his insincerity and inability to love. and in “The Magus” it is a villa of Maurice Conchis. an owner of this villa-skull is alter ego of Nicholas Urfe. which makes any person a coward and nullity without imagination and any kind of principles. and forever changing readers‟ view and outlook on things. He has time to notice “a grey Palmeresque light over the landscape” (Fowles 234) or a face “as gloomy as an El Greco” (Fowles 81). leaving a long-lasting impression. Hence.

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