I recently had the experience of flipping my perception of a novel well after I read it. The book in question was Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I would describe myself as a hesitant fan of Murakami. I’ve greatly enjoyed some of his books and found fault with many as well. I think in general he is both overrated and over criticized. Sort of a Radiohead of the literary world.

Anyways, this post is not an analysis of Murakami or of HBWATEOTW, but rather a discussion of the experience of other information or works dramatically changing one’s experience of a previous work.

In this case, I pretty much hated HBWATEOTW when I read it. I experienced it as boring, over-stylized, an empty meandering walk through Murakami’s favorite tricks and tropes. Then, a couple years later, I read 1Q84, and somewhere near the end of that book, HBWATEOTW cracked open for me like a zen koan (apologies for the Japanophilic simile, but it really describes the experience perfectly). Suddenly that book became an essential pillar of Murakami’s relationship with shadows, meaning, beauty, life, contradiction, fate, and totalitarianism/dogma, and the fact that I had read it really illuminated the themes and ideas in 1Q84.

Has anybody else had this sort of experience with this or any other book? If so, what book was it, and what opened it up (or perhaps collapsed it) for you?

Source: reddit post


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