This is the second of two novels in Haruki Murakami’s Complete Works 1990-2000 (Kodansha).
Three or four days have passed since I finished reading “South of the Border, West of the Sun” and “Sputnik Sweetheart.”
I was very confused about what to write about. The reason is that at the end of “Sputnik Sweetheart” there is a commentary by Haruki Murakami, the author of the book.
Since this book contains the author’s primary source material, I felt that I had to follow the author’s intention since I had already read it.
When I finished reading “South of the Border, West of the Sun,” I thought there was a commentary on the work by a critic in the back of the book, so when I finished writing the review of “South of the Border, West of the Sun,” I did not know that Haruki Murakami’s dissertation was in the back of the book, but it was already too late.
However, I feel that I do not have to rewrite the review of “South of the Border, West of the Sun.
I had no idea that “South of the Border, West of the Sun” was a detached part of “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” but (not having read The Wind-Up Bird) I felt nothing unnatural in thinking that “South of the Border, West of the Sun” was an independent work in its own right.
The author seems to have had a lot of trouble with it, though. However, “Sputnik Sweetheart” required time for me to read and think about the author’s opinion. I really do not want to write a text that deviates from the author’s opinion. I never wanted to write a self-centered opinion piece, as is often the case with misguided literary criticism.
I had to read the author’s note to know about the Laika dog left behind by the Sputnik satellite 2, but I could not get it out of my mind, because I thought that the dog, which kept circling the universe and dying, was an allusion to this novel. However, the story of the only dog left in the universe is not directly mentioned in the novel. However, as the title “Sputnik Sweetheart” suggests, the central character must be Sumire and Miu, and I continued reading, thinking that their relationship must be like that of the dog left behind in Sputnik.
I wondered about the variety of metaphors in this novel and wondered if they were not too harsh, but I found out after reading the title of the book that I was right. I found out after reading the explanations that I was right. Haruki Murakami tried to escape from the style of his own novels in this novel, and this abundance of metaphors was necessary for him to escape from his own style of writing.
Since the author wrote that he leaves the choice of whether this novel is real or not to the reader, I will write this essay as Sumire wrote her thoughts.
People dream. Dreams are unrealistic because they have no reality that unfolds in one’s mind. However, just because there is no reality, it does not mean that the dream is far from reality. Dreams are, in a sense, reality itself, but they are also unreal. Furthermore, when I am dreaming, I sometimes feel that another dreamer (the other me) is dreaming the dream right now. Especially when sleep is shallow. I am sure that there is a person (me) who is trying to make the dream unfold in a positive way. I have had that experience many times.
In other words, I am sure that dreams are both unrealistic and close to reality, but if we consider an entity that tries to control the dream somehow, I think we can say that the unreal in dreams can become real and realistic dreams can become unreal.
I believe that the characters in “Sputnik Sweetheart” are both realistic and unrealistic. It seems to me that reading the novel in this way gives me a better understanding of what the novel is trying to achieve.
The dog left behind in Sputnik, the episode in which the cat climbs a tree and disappears, the woman-eating cat, and the sudden disappearance of Sumire on an isolated Greek island, and the reason for her disappearance are never made known to the readers. There, reality and unreality intersect. Also, the deeply unrealistic experience of seeing another Miu in her apartment when she spends the night on the Ferris wheel adds depth to the reality of the story.
An elementary school teacher, named “Boku” (K), comes between Sumire and Miu, adding a touch of reality to the unreality. The carrot story was apparently added later. Therefore, this novel is not just a story about sexual relations. Sumire, who has disappeared, returns to “me” (K).
Haruki Murakami writes in his Untitled that writing “Sputnik Sweetheart” was a pleasure, and I think it is a masterpiece that is filled with the author’s imagination.
The Youtube video is Giese King’s piano accompaniment, Sumire, which Sumire used to listen to as a child.