I Pray Again, You Illustrious One

Les Vacances de Hegel (Hegel’s Holiday),  René Magritte, 1958

 

ICH BETE WIEDER, DU ERLAUCHTER

 

Ich bete wieder, du Erlauchter,

du hörst mich wieder durch den Wind,

weil meine Tiefen nie gebrauchter

rauschender Worte mächtig sind.

Ich war zerstreut; an Widersacher

in Stücken war verteilt mein Ich.

O Gott, mich lachten alle Lacher,

und alle Trinker tranken mich

 

__________________________

 

I pray again, you Illustrious One;

do you hear me again through the wind

because from my unused depths

mighty words are rushing.

  I was dispersed; to the adversary

my self was given in pieces.

O God, I laughed all laughter,

  and all drunkards drank me.

 

Le clef des champs (The Key to the Fields) , 1936

 

Ich war ein Haus nach einem Brand,

darin nur Mörder manchmal schlafen,

eh ihre hungerigen Strafen

sie weiterjagen in das Land;

ich war wie eine Stadt am Meer,

wenn eine Seuche sie bedrängte,

die sich wie eine Leiche schwer

den Kindern in die Hände hängte.

 

__________________________

 

I was a house after a fire,

 where only murderers sometimes sleep,

and their hungry punishments

pursue them through the land;

 I was like a city on the sea,

pressed by a plague,

 which like a heavy corpse

hung the children in the hands.

 

Not to be Reproduced (La reproduction interdite), a portrait of Edward James by René Magritte, 1937

 

Ich war mir fremd wie irgendwer

und wußte nur von ihm, daß er

einst meine junge Mutter kränkte,

als sie mich trug,

und daß ihr Herz, das eingeengte,

sehr schmerzhaft an mein Keimen schlug.

 

 __________________________

 

I was a stranger to myself as one

of whom I knew only that he

once offended my young mother

as she carried me

and that her heart, thus constricted,

throbbed achingly about my sprouting self.

 

Rind, M.C. Escher, 1955

 

Jetzt bin ich wieder aufgebaut

aus allen Stücken meiner Schande

und sehne mich nach einem Bande,

nach einem einigen Verstande,

der mich wie ein Ding überschaut, –

nach deines Herzens großen Händen –

(o kämen sie doch auf mich zu)ich zähle mich, mein Gott, und du,

du hast das Recht, mich zu verschwenden.

 

 __________________________

 

Now I am rebuilt

from all the pieces of my shame

and yearn for a bond,

 for a unified understanding,

which regards me as one thing

 – as I yearn for the big hands of your Heart [to

me]

  (oh, let them draw near me)

I count myself, my God, and you,

You have the right, to waste me.

 

Rainer Maria Rilke

From The Book of Hours

Translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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References to Franz Kafka and Popular Culture

 
 

Haruki Murakami makes numerous literary, musical and film references throughout the novel Kakfa on the Shore, particularly to (who else?) Franz Kafka. Several of the characters in the book have a relationship with Kafka or “Kafkaesque” themes, the most obvious being the name the protagonist gives to himself, Kafka Tamura. While the reader never finds out his real name, he explains why he chooses the name Kafka to represent his identity. But why Kafka? It is possible that Murakami used Franz Kafka to emphasize themes of isolation and alienation, as well as to critique forms of Japanese bureaucracy and the police force investigating his father’s murder in particular.

 
 

“Nobody’s going to help me. At least no one has up till now. So I have to make it on my own. I have to get stronger–like a stray crow. That’s why I gave myself the name Kafka. That’s what Kafka means in Czech, you know–crow.”

 
 

Franz Kafka is also a figure that draws many of the characters together. Kafka Tamura is only allowed to stay in the library after revealing his name, which has an profound effect on the library staff. The tragedy of the death of Miss Saeki’s lover is shown in a song she writes for him, named Kafka on the Shore, which also becomes the title of the book. There is a consistently a switching of identities concerning the protagonist which all seem linked in some way or another to Franz Kafka. He switches from 15 year-old runaway, to “Crow”, his alter-ego, to Miss Saeki’s 15-year old boyfriend (who is also named Kafka by Miss Saeki) when he enters his old quarters. In this way, Murakami ties together some of the surreal events in the book by using Franz Kafka as a continuous reference.

With the majority of the novel being set in a library, it is abundant with literary and musical references. Much like the Franz Kafka reference, Murakami uses these references a moments in the plot that draw characters together. In their isolation, the main characters are absorbed in literature, music, and art, providing a starting point for much of their conversations and relationships. In addition to the obvious Oedipial reference throughout the novel, as Kafka searches desperately for his mother and sister, however at the same time, Murakami brings references from popular culture to life, adding a surreal and oddly comical overlay to the events in the novel. In a parallel storyline, Kafka Tamura’s father, brilliant sculptor and crazed cat murderer, takes on the pseudonym of Johnnie Walker. Colonel Sanders, the KFC icon, becomes a character in the novel, a pimp that guides Nakata and Hoshino to Takamatsu and the library, merging both storylines. Truck driver Hoshino, throws away his job and uproots himself after listening to Beethoven’s Archduke Trio, while Kafka Tamura calms himself in an isolated cabin, listening to Prince on his walkman. Murakami cultivates these references similarly to the way he develops architecture in the novel; both historical and contemporary, they blur the passing of time and are devices for the character’s self exploration and identity.

 
 

LITERARY REFERENCES:

The Book of Thousand Nights and a Night, Translated by Sir Richard Francis Burton

The Banquet, by Plato

The Castle, by Franz Kafka

The Trial, by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka

In The Penal Colony, by Franz Kafka

• Complete Works of Natsume Sōseki

The Tale Of Genji, by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, translated by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

Trial of Adolf Eichmann, (Unknown)

Macbeth, by William Shakespeare

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Agamemnon, by Aeschylus

The Trojan Women, by Euripides

Rhetoric, by Aristotle

Poetics, by Aristotle

Electra, by Sophocles

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles

The Hollow Men (poem), by T. S. Eliot

Tales of Moonlight and Rain, by Ueda Akinari

Matter and Memory, by Henri Bergson

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Aladdin, Added by Antoine Galland to French translation of The Book of Thousand Nights and a Night

The Frog Prince, The Brothers Grimm

Hansel and Gretel, by The Brothers Grimm

Uncle Vanya, by Anton Chekhov

A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, by Jean Jacques Rousseau

 
 

AUTHORIAL REFERENCES:

Leo Tolstoy

Federico García Lorca

Ernest Hemingway

Charles Dickens

 
 

MUSIC REFERENCES:

Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles

The White Album, by The Beatles

As Time Goes By, from the movie Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Blonde on Blonde, by Bob Dylan

Mi chiamano Mimi, from La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini

Sonata in D Major (known as the Gasteiner), by Franz Schubert

Crossroads, by Cream

Little Red Corvette, by Prince

Greatest Hits, by Prince

Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding

Archduke Trio, (by Rubinstein, Heifetz and Feuermann) by Ludwig van Beethoven

First cello concerto, (solo by Pierre Fournier) by Franz Joseph Haydn

Posthorn Serenade, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Kid A, by Radiohead

My Favourite Things, by John Coltrane

Getz/Gilberto, by Stan Getz

 
 

ARTIST/COMPOSER REFERENCES:

Duke Ellington

Led Zeppelin

Schumann

Alfred Brendel

Rolling Stones

Beach Boys

Simon & Garfunkel

Stevie Wonder

Johann Sebastian Bach

Hector Berlioz

Richard Wagner

Franz Liszt