Oh, this book. I'm not really sure what to make of it, or how to interpret what happened. The book seemed quite straightforward up until the last chapOh, this book. I'm not really sure what to make of it, or how to interpret what happened. The book seemed quite straightforward up until the last chapter... a Murakami-twist I saw coming, but it makes for a confusing ending all the same.
I think that in order to understand this book you need to have been in a serious relationship for quite some time. It was a story of surprising realism when it comes to the maturing of relationships. That was probably the real strength of this book for me, even though I haven't been married for several years. It's a story of actions and their consequences, and how you can hurt people just by being you. It's a scary thing, really, but a good read all the same (just not his best, if you ask me).
And just thinking about this book also makes me realize how much of himself Murakami always puts into his books. For instance the jazz bar Hajime begins in this book (Murakami used to have his own bar), he's fond of jazz, and he often uses classical music in his books (generally the same composers, too..). He really has this certain set of themes, yet the stories are always fascinating to some extent. Besides these things, he always manages to teach me about Japan, in this case aspects of post-WWII Japan. It's interesting, because this way I'm reading a nice story, and I learn something. Yes, I think I really am quite fond of Murakami books....more
This book and I didn't get off to a good start. In the end, I still didn't like the book very much, but at least I don't hate it as much as most of myThis book and I didn't get off to a good start. In the end, I still didn't like the book very much, but at least I don't hate it as much as most of my fellow students seem to do.
This book is supposed to be an overview of the history of anthropology, and other fields of study that have influenced it (like linguistics, sociology, etc.). Agar mentions interesting studies, but overall the book is hardly scientific (e.g. no sources mentioned). It puzzles me that one of the supposedly most difficult courses in my university prescribes this book. It doesn't seem like a book aimed at a student audience.. I got the feeling Agar wrote this to get random people interested in anthropology. Without extensive side material and good classes, I feel this book fails as a scientific effort.
Agar has definitely had some nice experiences in his life, however. As a story teller he's not half bad (though he still has some issues there, as well). I do enjoy reading about his experiences, particularly because he's lived in Vienna for quite a while, so I expected to be able to relate to that. Maybe it's the time difference, but he and I had very different experiences. Still, I liked reading about Agar's experiences in getting used to other cultures, even if at times he really seemed overly American (and ignorant).
What I did not like was his attitude at times, mostly in the beginning. For instance his criticism on the Sie/du-issue in German. This is mostly fueled by the fact that English doesn't use this distinction, I do think. To say that most people would be happier if this distinction were to disappear altogether? Well, I seriously doubt it. I've encountered difficulties with Sie/du as well, but taking them out of the language would just create a myriad of other problems in a culture where this system is embedded, and used as a means to show, amongst other things, respect. It's a throwaway comment of Agar's, but at times it seriously made me wonder to which extent I should trust this guy as a narrator. Sometimes he's just an ass, too. When talking about De Saussure for instance, he mentions that the guy's work was published by his students, and that it was based on their notes. This is common knowledge, but his comment saying that he hopes his students wouldn't do that, because he'd seen the kind of notes they make.. well, that's both unnecessary and disrespectful. These little things bothered me while reading.
The book is also written in 1996, and quite dated in some aspects by now. The most obvious issue being that the Yugoslavian war has ended, but you do wonder what else we would question in the light of the other newfound knowledge from the past 15 years.
In short: some personal anecdotes were interesting, but on the whole.. don't bother. There are surely better introductions out there....more
"De inhoud van deze 900 pagina's dikke roman is amper na te vertellen."
This is the opening of one of the Dutch reviews for this book: the content of t"De inhoud van deze 900 pagina's dikke roman is amper na te vertellen."
This is the opening of one of the Dutch reviews for this book: the content of this 900-page thick novel can barely be repeated. They are right. This book is, in many ways, all over the place. It talks of wars that are of no direct relevance to the main plot, we discover what happens to character that never even show up, and more of these things. This book is full of many things, yet its main plot seems a little undecided. For me, that was its main weakness. Where was this book going? What was the exact point? There doesn't really seem to be one, besides being a study in human psychology.
It's probably because this book consists of 3 different books: the first one was published in magazines, the second released shortly after. Book three wasn't written until long after that, as Murakami had no real intention of writing book three. And to be fair: book two breaks off at an annoying point, but it wouldn't have been an unusual breaking off point for Murakami. What happened to Kumiko, will Toru find her? You don't really know. He just got a new clue, and that's the end. Wham. Open ending.
Then book three happens, and you find out more, especially about some characters that were not so well portrayed in the first two books. Even so, the book doesn't give everything away. It's still a Murakami book, so to some extent, you're still wondering about what the hell happened when you've read the last page. Book three expands upon books one and two, but in the end doesn't give closure either. Murakami just takes you on this long long ride, asks many questions.. but neglects to give you many answers. So what just happened? What was the point?
I didn't really mind this (though one does wonder). It's because I liked the characters, with their occasionally odd nicknames. My favourite was Toru, our main character, who randomly decides to quit working because he no longer feels like it. Who goes to the bottom of a well to be able to think. He just closes himself off from the world: he gets some of the backlash, but he's still doing okay. In that sense I envied him. His life of just reading and cleaning seems very appealing to me right now. Maybe not forever (and I do think Toru will get a job again... eventually). But it's a phase I can relate to and that's why I liked Toru. With its secondary cast of eccentric characters, this book was quite a lot of fun. Another favourite was May Kasahara, the girl who did crazy things, thought about death and laughed at ducks. She had spunk and I loved her.
One last thing I have to say deals with editions. Apparently the English translation cut over 25.000 words from the original Japanese text. The translator of the Dutch version says most translations have been based on this cut version, apparently because the transition between books 2 and 3 was supposedly a bit stiff. I didn't really notice this while reading. True, there's quite a bit in this book that could be cut without one having problems to understand the plot. But even the details that aren't directly relevant, have some part to play. I can't understand why so much of the story had to be cut for the English translation. So basically, what I want to say: if you understand Dutch, read the Dutch version (or the Japanese version, of course). There's no need to miss out on what Murakami wanted you to read. I'm sure Jay Rubin meant well, but he's not the author, and as Murakami didn't change his revised edition of the Japanese version accordingly *, I think that really says enough.
* Murakami did change some things, but didn't go along with full 25.000 word cut, according to my translator....more
Oh, what a brilliant end to the dream arc. I can't say much besides that I just loved loved loved it. And Usa andStarlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss????
Oh, what a brilliant end to the dream arc. I can't say much besides that I just loved loved loved it. And Usa and Mamoru are so perfect.. and they save the world with the power of love. Seriously, what's not to like??...more
(view spoiler)[Oh, this was so good! The pace was less frantic, and we actually got to spend some time with all of the Inner Senshi for a change. I lo(view spoiler)[Oh, this was so good! The pace was less frantic, and we actually got to spend some time with all of the Inner Senshi for a change. I love how all of these ~dreams were so clearly personalized, it actually gave great insight into these characters. And you go Rei, for not being interested in men! Four for you! You're awesome!
Although wtf at Artemis staring at Minako in the shower and actually becoming sort of human to save her.. say what?? Didn't he and Luna have Diana as a kid?? I'm confused.
And poor Chibi Usa, with her inferiority complex :( But whaa whaa she and Helios are too adorable.
What was also too cool was the return of the Outer Senshi! Well, sort of. They haven't actually seen Sailor Moon yet. But just that little bit of screentime was enough to remind me that ohmygosh they are all too awesome for words. I would love to be Setsuna. And I kind of envy Michiru because Haruka is too cool and I can't deal.
But the ending was cruel and I don't want both Mamoru and Usa to die. :(( The ending was just painful to see, also when Mamoru threw Usa out. *sniffles* I just have a lot of OTP feels, okay, and this just feels wrong. ;__; (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Princess And The Pea is one of those fairytales that never really hit a chord with me. Naturally, fairytales were never meant to be realistic.. yeThe Princess And The Pea is one of those fairytales that never really hit a chord with me. Naturally, fairytales were never meant to be realistic.. yet feeling a pea through 20 matresses? I thought the princess was spoiled and was therefore not a big fan of this particular story.
This retelling was a nice surprise for me. It took all the things I found unbelievable about the original story, and turned them around. Violet was an interesting character, and though I loved all the friendships she made, we didn't see what happened to these girls in the end. Also the romance isn't really.. mindblowing, and is nearly insta-love. The relationships therefore do leave a little to be desired, but then it as mostly Violet's story, so I can understand.
Traditionally, the baddies in the story are kind of very rottenly bad without a shed of moral greyness. But then it's a fairytale, so I don't know what else I expected.
Basically, accept the rules of the fairytale, squint away some things (e.g. self mutiliation and aforementioned issues) and then the book is an enjoyable ride. It fills in extra backstories for some of the characters, and it has the nice fairytale feel. It's a nice way to spend your afternoon, and it tells you that every girl can be a princess....more
**spoiler alert** - Too many new characters, but I do like these Sailor Starlights (especially Seiya - he seems tragic and somehow I like that?). - Fi**spoiler alert** - Too many new characters, but I do like these Sailor Starlights (especially Seiya - he seems tragic and somehow I like that?). - Finally an appearance from Chibi Chibi!! I've been wanting a backstory on her since forever (I always loved her design, but somehow never really looked into the character). Said backstory didn't appear in this volume yet, but I'm hopeful. - The Starlights' princess looks so prettyyyy. - Naoko's drawing style for Usagi has really become so gorgeous that it makes me want to cry with happiness when reading these volumes. - I must say the battles are kinda monotone, though? There seems to be no strategy or whatever, the only way to win battles is new moves or new sailors. Little progress on that part, though I don't actually care. - NO WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT TO MAMORU THOUGH - AND HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT ALL THE SAILOR FIGHTERS ARE DEAD - *sobs*...more
Heinrich von Morungen is like a combination of the Medieval Minnesänger and the modern Nice Guy TM. The Minnesänger is, to put it way too easily, a poHeinrich von Morungen is like a combination of the Medieval Minnesänger and the modern Nice Guy TM. The Minnesänger is, to put it way too easily, a poet at court who writes love poetry for one specific lady. The lady is generally of high standing and unobtainable. The poet will write about his pain of her not accepting him, but stays near her because the pain she gives him is sweeter than her absence from his life would be.
Heinrich von Morungen is (pretends to be) one such individual. His lady ignores him, forbids him to sing, and is basically interesting because she also has her bad moods. Often the chosen ladies are perfect in every way, this lady can be mean, this lady can be cruel, he even calls her a witch and a murderer. In other words, as far as Minnesang-heroines go, she's kind of awesome.
Morungen laments that she does not like him despite everything he's done for her (which is where the Nice Guy TM comes in) and he starts calling her names because he's so bitter about it all. And yet, he loves her too and would love to speak to her. This does not redeem him in any way for me, as he also damns her to hell, promises he will come back to haunt her in the afterlife and will make sure his son will continue his revenge of her, should Morungen die before she does.
Let's be honest, the dude is kinda creepy. I'm not surprised she wanted to have nothing to do with him (even if it's unlikely this lady really existed in real life).
Still, Morungen is interesting because he did some things differently from his predecessors: he speaks to his lady directly, and she's not just perfect. His anger is more understandable for modern readers, than the chosen suffering is. But because his work broke with tradition to some extent, it was apparently ignored for some time. Poor Heinrich von Morungen.
This edition is a surprisingly nice one. It has the songs in both Mittelhochdeutsch and Neuhochdeutsch/German translations, an introduction to Minnesang, Morungens place in the German Minnesang-history, and it sums up what we know of his life, too. Besides that it talks about the different manuscripts, why these versions of the poems were chosen, and it explains in depth why certain passages were translated in a particular way. It's a very good overview for the guy's work, and will also be understandable for beginning readers of this genre.. provided they read the notes in the back first....more
I like Murakami. I sit down with one his books, and I forget all about the world, I'll read for hours and not think of anything else (unless I'm distuI like Murakami. I sit down with one his books, and I forget all about the world, I'll read for hours and not think of anything else (unless I'm disturbed). He's the only writer I've read recently who has this kind of pull over me. I'm glad there are still plenty of Murakami books for me to read.
I won't pretend to say that I fully understood this book. Where Murakami goes off into surrealism he interests me, but I stop understanding it. However, I like thinking about it when I close the book, and I think that's important too. I loved this book for the interesting relationships, and the other-world motive at the end is actually the reason why the book loses one star. But no matter. The book is still very enjoyable, and the ending made me laugh, somehow.
This book is painful to read. Upon finishing the last page I wanted nothing more but to go to bed and cry. I did none of those things, but it still huThis book is painful to read. Upon finishing the last page I wanted nothing more but to go to bed and cry. I did none of those things, but it still hurts, a pain in the heart of a sort that I don't experience often.. at least not because of books.
It is probably because Murakami reads easily, for me. This book wasn't as easy to read as some of his other books, but that's because of the subject matter. Feeling isolated, being alone, not understanding the world around you, and doing things you don't see the sense of (but doing them anyway because hey, you're alive, and what else are you supposed to do with your life?): they are all very familiar feelings for me. I wrote before that Murakami took my mind away from my life. This book forced me to take another look at my life and reconsider, it gave me no chance to escape myself. That's not why I read Murakami.. but it was effective.
I don't know anyone who has committed suicide. But I do know loss, the effect of death and how you have to deal with that, and how death seems to be omnipresent. I know what it's like to sit beside the bed of a cancer patient at the end of his life, even though I was not yet mature enough to fully understand it - that came later. I know about depression, about being alone, and not being able to talk to people for months. I know what it's like to hide yourself away, because people wouldn't understand what you do. And I also know what it's like to make your own life a hell to live through.
The book deals with all those things, and more psychological issues besides that as well. Sure, it talks about relationships too, about loyalty, and a man eventually loving two different women. But the relationships didn't interest me much, it went over my head, also due to me not having had a relationship thus far in my life. There was never a need for it, but that's also why this part of the book doesn't interest me much. It's not the kind of love story where you hope the leads will get it on. And though I'm sure this story is interesting to some people, it just wasn't relevant for me.
That made me realize something: as has been the case with all of the Murakami books I've read so far, I actually didn't care much about the plot. The feelings in the book, the thoughts of the characters - yes, those interest me, those stay with me. They are what I'm reading Murakami for. This book stabbed my heart and then twisted the knife around. It hurt, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a wake-up call. You're alive, you're here still. Living, it's not easy, it is painful and the price you have to pay for it is high. Eventually it will have been enough, but when you decide to live, it's worth fighting for.
That shall be what I take away from this book.. and now I shall have to try to live by it....more
A less philosophical, but more straight-forward retelling of Tristan & Isolde than the Gottfried von Straßburg version. It's also complete, whichA less philosophical, but more straight-forward retelling of Tristan & Isolde than the Gottfried von Straßburg version. It's also complete, which is a nice bonus. Though this story is also about Tristan & Isolde, it's fundamentally different from Gottfried's text, most critically differing in how fleshed out the characters are and the role God/fate play in the story.
The translation of this version was quite readable, but probably should've been edited once more before publishing, because the many typoes were astonishing!...more