BookTalkII — Part 10 — Vikings


Warning:  BookTalkII assumes an audience that has already read George Orwell’s 1984, and attempts to compare the classic dystopian nightmare against both the novel 1Q84, written by Haruki Murakami, and V for Vendetta, a graphic novel by Alan Moore.  Broken into twelve parts, BookTalkII will focus on a chronologically new section of 1Q84 and V for Vendetta while considering the entire narrative of 1984.  See the BookTalkII main page for more details and links to all twelve parts.

Spoiler Alert:  This part covers the last four chapters (8-11) of Book 3 of V for Vendetta and chapters 13-18 of Book 3 of 1Q84 (up to page 999).

Whether or not Haruki Murakami or the English translators intentionally chose the word “irretrievably,” it stands to be noticed.  “Irretrievably lost” is the phrase that is used awkwardly and repeatedly to indicate the vaporization of Tengo’s girlfriend and the fate of those stuck in the Town of Cats.  The word “irretrievable” stains the page.
Aoshima Island is one of about a dozen “cat islands” around Japan, small places where there are significantly more feline residents than people.

Murakami describes Ushikawa “as inconspicuous as a centipede in a cup of yogurt.”  Again and again, he is described as an out-of-place bug like the character of Kafka’s Metamorphosis – uncomfortable with the human condition, uncomfortable in his current position.  Truly, Ushikawa is only seen comforted by the darkness, nestled into the floor of an anonymous apartment.

“He wasn’t particularly fond of his brothers and sister.  From Ushikawa’s perspective, they were irretrievably shallow.”  (Page 912)
Even sinister Ushikawa is haunted by the NHK collector.  The intimidating specter of the NHK collector frightens Aomame and Tengo alike.  Subscription fees must be retrieved or else you may lose service.  Haruki Murakami might be coy about this, but if you, the reader, enjoy the story then you must pay the price.  In the U.S., viewers like you are more familiar with voluntarily paying for content.  A Tokyo businessman cannot afford such subtlety.  Murakami has checked our credit and the bill is due.

While Tengo stutters into focus, he pieces a puzzle together; his interwoven narrative seems to be at a different tempo from that of Aomame and Ushikawa.  Komatsu thinks he plays as Tengo’s puppet master, but in reality he is the 1984 equivalent of the character Syme.  He is too smart for his own good and busy at work editing the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary.

“But a narrative takes its own direction, and continues on, almost automatically.”  (Page 999)
“Still reading Proust?”  Aomame struggles with emotional change through chapter seventeen.  From anger to sorrow, she views herself as the concerned mother–the one that has replaced the cold assassin.  She takes the mask and steals the show like V.  For the true vendetta is short and sweet.  Aomame is too busy living life to read fiction let alone record her own narrative.  She embraces her role as the lead actress in an operetta and sings the vikings to rest.



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