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Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Haruki Murakami has translated F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and is interviewed (via e-mail) by Yomiuri Shimbun's Tadashi Yamauchi, a staff writer.

"Is there any common ground between Fitzgerald's world and today's Japan?" asks Yamauchi.

One of Fitzgerald's themes is maturity--individual maturity and society's maturity. He was in his 20s in the 1920s, a very special time for American society. His youth and society's youth closely corresponded to each other and synchronized in a way. America was enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, and the young Fitzgerald was enjoying fame.

The novel Gatsby was born almost by itself in the innocent fever of such times. But despite that fact, the novel itself is not innocent at all. Fitzgerald apparently captured a dark side of the noisy and tumultuous boom time.

Fitzgerald, through Nick, has a nagging sense that something is wrong. He also pursues the possibility of maturity as the story develops. However, the pursuit is swallowed by the lure of the good times and lost without bearing fruit.

Then comes the 1930s, the age of the Great Depression. It's a dark age in contrast to the flashy '20s. Fitzgerald matured as a writer as America did as a society. Both became introspective, and they had to mature in their own ways.

I think those years may correspond to Japan's bubble economy, its bursting and the "lost decade" that followed. I believe that Japanese society has matured to a new level by going through this stage (or that's what I want to believe). For this reason, now is precisely the right time for Japanese to read Gatsby, which in a way will seem very realistic to them.

There's a lot of good stuff in this interview. Highly recommended.

He aspires to write like Dostoyevsky, apparently, and doesn't consider himself a genius:

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I'm not a genius, so I can't live without taking control of various aspects of my personal life.

Thanks to Return of the Reluctant for the heads up.

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