Haruki Murakami and Words We Don't Know on His "Norwegian Wood"

This is another note by Ronald Susilo, a doctor, book lover, and a friend with a very large energy and heart. In this part he tells us about his reception after reading Norwegian Wood, a very well known novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
haruki murakami and words we dont know on his norwegian wood
Norwegian Wood

Haruki Murakami and Words We Don't Know on His "Norwegian Wood"

By: M. Ronald Susilo

Lot of quotations I make while reading this novel. I have one habit while reading novels; a pencil to mark all of quotation that makes me think, makes me laugh, sad, feel bad or good, or makes me want to comment about--word, sentences and even the dialogue.

In the early pages of this novel I immediately feel Murakami’s styles: dark and solitude. “All I knew about the well was its frightening depth. It was deep beyond measuring, and crammed full of darkness, as if all the world’s darkness had been boiled down to their ultimate density.” (P.7). This quotation emerges in the dialogue between Toru Watanabe and Naoko.

Why Murakami takes or uses a “well” (a deep hole or shaft sunk into the earth to obtain water)? As a reader, I get little annoying about that word. Why Murakami does not use flower, beautiful panoramic of the mountain, nice trees and their fruits rather than talk about “well”? When someone falls in love and meet each other there must be a beautiful and good conversation and situation in that. Talk about a beautiful thing not vice versa; talk about something dark and even scary.

After I finished read this novel and get some deep thinking, I conclude that may be that is the early point when Murakami wants to show how relationship between Toru Watanabe and Naoko will be dark and solitude same as a “well”.

Baca juga: About Haruki Murakami's "Hear The Wind Sing" and "Pinball, 1973"

Still in the early pages, I am shock reading a dialogue between Toru Watanabe and Naoko. “It’s just not possible for one person to watch over another person for ever. I mean, say we got married. You’d have to go to work during the day. Who’s going to watch over me while you’re away? Or say you have to go on a business trip, who’s going to watch over me then? Can I be glued to you every minute of our lives? What kind of equality would there be in that? What kind of relationship would that be? Sooner or later you’d get sick of me. You’d wonder what you were doing with your life, why you were spending all your time babysitting this woman. I couldn’t stand that. It wouldn’t solve any of my problems.” (P.9) I am shock because Naoko as a girl says that thing not Toru Watanabe.

In my experience, that opinion can not be coming from the brain and lips of a girl. Have you ever read a book “Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus” by John Gray? Gray says that almost men use their brain but women use their heart (feel). Do you know what I mean? So, I think from that sentences, the opinion or idea from Murakami exist in that sentences. Why that is a problem? Because, Naoko’s act is not normal or natural. Naoko, I think, like a doll that created by the author not a person that we can feel real. But, once again, that is what I think and feel. How about you?

In my life I still believe to this sentence: “You can’t tell a book by its cover.” (P.27). Talk or discuss about a real book (not a person), the cover of the book is really does not mater for me as long as I can enjoy my reading. All I want is go deep in every novel I want to read and find out what is the author tells about a world according to him.
In the mean time I find a nice two sentences. First, “Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.” (P.33). And the other one is, “Death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of life.” (P.360). I am very interested by those two sentences because this is true that death and life can be altogether exists in our real life. People can be in death situation although he still a life. 
Many people are very lazy, doing nothing within his/her life; only eat, and sleep, and again for his entire life. What they want is praying their parents die sooner. Sooner the better. So, they can inherit the assets or money. It is very ridiculous. Nothing they want to do or can do, even only read a book or write something. Let us doing something in our life and make our life has meanings to others as long as we live. For that, Murakami give us this fine sentence. “Life doesn’t require ideals. It requires standards of action: to be a gentleman: someone who does not what he wants to do what he should do.” (P.75). 

There is interesting dialogue between Toru Watanabe and Nagasawa. They are book lovers, especially novels. Very fond on classic and western novel. Let us see what are they talk about reading a book.

  • “He (Nagasawa) was a far more voracious reader than I, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least thirty years. That’s the only kind of book I can trust.” (P.41).
  • “I don’t want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short.” (P.41).
  • “That’s way I read them. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that.” (P.42).

How about your opinion? Are you agree with that idea or not? Will you read a book that the author must dead at least thirty years or has baptism of time? For me, I don't. We must read a recently book to know the new model of modern books while still discover a fun and interesting on classic books.

Talk about quite smoking is very good theme. Murakami says “It was a pain. I hated running out of smokes in the middle of the night. I don’t like having something control me that way.” (P.95)

Midori sang a song, an old one that she said she had written herself. It’s called: I Have Nothing. Watanabe listened and think that: “It was a truly terrible song, both words and music.” But after that: “How did you like my song?” Midori Asked. Watanabe answered cautiously, “it was unique and original and very expressive of your personality.” (P.101). That is the first time I smile while reading that sentence. Thus, in the other time: “How about my hairstyle?” Midori asked. “It’s great.” Watanabe answered.  “How great?” and Watanabe says: “Great enough to knock down all the trees in all the forests of the world.” (P.343). This time I can resist my laugh and I laugh with all my energy. Hahahaha……

After all of this, later I find again like this: “How much do you love me?” Midori asked. Watanabe answered: “Enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter.” (P.350).
For this times I did not smile or laugh but I think; that is something what Murakami wants to say: almost women always want to be praised for their appearances only with the nice words or sentences although we know that what we are saying to them is not right or even impossible thing. They will be happy with our words of praise. 
That’s it. Are you with me or not?

The dialogue between Reiko Ishida with her husband makes me remember about my friend who wants to not have a wedding ceremony when he married a woman. He says that wedding ceremony is useless. It never describes a love anymore but to tell the world that I have a money. Although I don not know how to get the money back.

See this dialogue: “If you want to sleep with me, I don’t mind. I’ve never slept with anybody, and I’m very fond of you, so if you want to make love to me, I don’t mind at all. But marrying me is a whole different matter. If you marry me, you take on all my troubles, and they’re a lot worse than you can imagine.” So, anyhow, we didn’t have a wedding ceremony. We just went to the ward office and registered our marriage and took a trip to Hakone for two nights.” (P. 159-160).

When I read the description about Naoko, I can rapidly diagnose that Naoko gets a Schizophrenia Paranoid. See this detail:
  • “Then she started hearing things, she would hear people talking to her, the voice would interfere with her attempts to choose her words. She is having trouble now just holding an ordinary conversation. She can’t find the right words to speak, and that puts her into a terribly confused state-confused and frightened. Meanwhile, the things she’s hearing are getting worse.” (P.324-325).
  • “Her emotions become tremendously unstable. When she has those intense episodes of hearing voices, she shuts down completely and burrows inside herself.” (P.341).
There are some words that I did not know the meaning and then I try to find it in other sources. This thing makes me very interest to read the book. We can get lot of knowledge and experiences in that. These are the words that I find out:
  1. Mythomania(P.164): the tendency to lie, exaggerate, or relate incredible imaginary adventures as if they had really happened, occurring in some mental disorders.
  2. Paraphernalia (P.220): that they collect and stores useless object.
  3. Fellatio (P.298): is an oral sex act involving the use of the mouth or throat, which is performed by a person on the penis of another person or oneself (autofellatio). Oral stimulation of the scrotum may also be termed fellatio or tea bagging.
  4. Cunnilingus (P.298):  oral sex act performed by a person on a female's genitalia (the clitoris, other parts of the vulva or the vagina).The clitoris is the most sexually sensitive part of the human female genitalia, and its stimulation may result in female sexual arousal or orgasm.
That’s all I want to tell about this novel. I hope you will enjoy and makes you feel interest to read this novel or other novel and feel challenge to write something what have you read in the future. It is your choice in life.

Karet Sawah II, 651. Jakarta Pusat.
00.45, October 20, 2017.


  1. The book must be interesting n complete.. its talking about woman n man relationship, life & death, but I will not read this book cause its written in English... hehehe.. I disagree about dr. Ronald's friend who says that wedding ceremony is useless.. the couple & family just want to share happines. So if you don't have much money, you must think twice before decide to get married...

    1. A ha... nice point of view about ceremony. Thx :-)