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Woman as Symptom and the Void at the Heart of Subjectivity: A Lacanian Reading of Murakami Haruki's 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle'

Author(s): DIL, Jonathan

Journal: Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies
ISSN 1476-9158

Volume: 2009;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Murakami Haruki | The Wind-up Bird Chronicle | Psychoanalysis | Lacan | Žižek

Readers familiar with the works of popular Japanese writer Murakami Haruki are never surprised when a somewhat solitary male protagonist finds himself encountering a number of fascinating females who then aid him in his somewhat bizarre quest. This essay argues that there has been a distinctive development in these female companions that is most explicit in Murakami's eighth novel, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Employing terminology from Lacanian psychoanalysis, it will show that unlike earlier female characters who offered the central male a sense of compensation and reassurance, this protagonist's search for his missing wife leads to deep anxiety and ontological uncertainty. The central question the novel asks is how one might learn to manage this underlying anxiety and thus find a sense of healing.
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