I'm a regular listener of BBC's Play of the Week podcast. This week's radio drama is a thriller based on Makura no Soshi by Sei Shonagon. Sounds familiar? Well, it's more like an adventure story loosely based on the characters in the book including Sei Shonagon. At least the conceit is interesting. Access the following site and have a listen. This episode is available only for the next seven days or so, so hurry up!
Embracing Defeat (Introduction, excerpt) by John W. Dower.
I read this book (not aloud but silently) back in 2000 or 2001, and found it to be exceedingly interesting for its incongruity. Here's what I mean. The author's viewpoint is succinctly summarized in the Introduction, and this audio excerpt covers most of it. This narrative itself contains some elements of incongruity. The incongruous stance of the United States toward occupied Japan and its government, the flop-flop of Japanese leaders and the masses, and the strange union between the victor and the vanquished that the author describes as "an embrace" of Japan and the U.S. The author analyzes the incongruity on America's side in a predictably logical manner, and there is little that is mysterious or defies comprehension in that narrative. It is the Japanese reaction to defeat that is tougher to crack. So, the author departs from his usual approach of historical studies and attempts to fathom the psyche of the Japanese in postwar years through numerous pieces of episodic evidence, which makes fascinating reading but inevitably gets incongruous with his stated historical perspective. It is as if the author was seduced by the material he was studying and at times lost sight of his stance. Those are the moments when I find this book most endearing.
The Grand Inquisitor will continue next Monday.
The Catalonia International Prize acceptance speech by Haruki Murakami, June 11, 2011. Part 1 of 3.
The speech was delivered in Japanese. The English translation has been borrowed from this site. I've found at least one other translation, and possibly there are some other versions by other volunteers. I liked the version used here because it seemed to carry the speaker's "voice" well enough.
Parts 2 and 3 will be posted in a few days.