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Kawabata’s Beauty And Sadness And Murakami’s Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World

2739 words - 11 pages

Kawabata’s Beauty and Sadness and Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Although wildly different in subject matter and style, Kawabata’s Beauty and Sadness and Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World both show how Japan has been internationalized as well as how it has remained traditional. Kawabata’s novel is traditional and acceptable, much like the haiku poetry he imitates, but has a thread of rebelliousness and modernity running through the web that binds the characters together. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is devastatingly modern, and yet has a similar but opposite undertone of old Japan, or at least a nostalgia for old Japan. In both novels a more international culture has taken root in Japan, and it seems that the characters both embrace and run from the implications of a globalized, hybridized culture.

With the graceful starkness of traditional Japanese haiku, Kawabata reveals a twisted set of love affairs between four people that ultimately lead to their downfalls. Haiku depicts a meditational view of the world where nothing is meaningless; in Beauty and Sadness all of the relations represent aspects of new and old Japan, mirroring the rise and fall of Japanese culture in their movements. Among these relationships, perhaps the most traditional is found between Oki and Otoko– although it is tragic and somewhat leacherous, the bond between a young woman (or girl) and an older man is an acceptable affair in traditional Japanese culture. They represent the oldest parts of Japanese custom, and adhere to that measure throughout the novel. Oki’s wish to hear the temple bells with Otoko reflects this long established pattern of old man and young girl, as “the lingering reverberations held an awareness of old Japan and the flow of time.” (Kawabata, 4) Both of these characters are aware of the established culture of Japan and are disturbed by the changing trends towards internationalization and away from the highly stylized ritual of traditional Japanese culture. Oki notes the difference between the hand-written manuscripts of his youth and the typewritten pages of modern day literature, saying that “to read contemporary novels in manuscript facsimile was sheer dilettantism; they were meant to be read in type print, not in a boring handwriting”– he seems to associate older literature with more original and contemplative script and modern (less thought out?) Novels with the hotter, quicker medium of typeface. (Kawabata, 35) In a similar manner, Otoko feels drawn to the more modern art that Keiko produces and even tries to incorporate the style into the painting of her child, but is consistently drawn back to her own, somewhat more traditional style. Through their art and their bittersweet love, these characters are still living their creative lives in the old world but at the same time recognizing the advance of technology and art as a result of outside influences merging...

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