Norwegian Wood or: text of empty signs
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In showing how the empty sign pervades the novel Norwegian Wood (1987, Murakami Haruki) on several levels and how it connects its themes and characters, I have tried to exemplify the fruitfulness of a 'Barthesian' perspective on this particular novel. Norwegian Wood uses translation, silence, love and relationships as manifestations of emptiness that infinitely suspend meaning. This makes it a text without an ultimate signified, which is exactly what Roland Barthes tries to achieve in Empire of Signs (1970). All of this provides a fruitful framework to work with when analyzing, discussing and appreciating Murakami in the West. The idea of Japan, the Japanese and Murakami as their spokesman is a created image. By analyzing Norwegian Wood as an empty sign, one resists the idea of a real Japan in Murakami’s works.