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Mobility in the Work of Haruki Murakami, Focusing on Dance Dance Dance as a Narrative of Mobility

Inseop Shin


This article discusses how advanced capitalism, criticized in Haruki Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance (1988), relates to “mobility,” which defines human life as well as Murakami’s narrative strategy. Various forms of movement in Murakami’s novels have yet to be observed in previous studies, possibly due to readings of advanced capitalism and alienation being limited to the Japanese context. Applying the issue of mobility to Dance Dance Dance can be a useful tool in analyzing the universality of Murakami’s work in the contemporary world. The concept of mobility includes technological means and infrastructure for movement of individuals, people who move around, networks of people, and places. Research on mobility is interdisciplinary in its direction, and it is only in recent years, even in Europe that the idea of mobility was applied to literary studies. Along with mobility, the concept of “immobility” can also be explored. Immobility involves a person whose movement is denied or suppressed, the network that the person forms, and the place for such a network. In Dance Dance Dance, we find the starting point of mobility in Japan in the late 1980s better than any other novels by the author or by other writers in contemporary Japanese literature. Murakami might not have intended to deal with this theme. Although he opposes capitalism, the mobility he represents in his novels still works within the capitalist system. The narrator
thinks he rejects advanced capitalism, yet his mobility capital in actual life is optimized for the mobility of driving, traveling, and walking. The narrator does not work, but he always has money to spend whenever he feels the need to travel to forget his loneliness. Moreover, in the adventure of “occult code/travel,” the main character always secures safety even if the people around him are in danger. This is also true for the readers: they solve mysterious cases that the protagonist cannot understand, and they are participants in the scene. The fantasy of movement in Dance Dance Dance as a mobility narrative is the basic element of
the global attributes of Murakami’s works.


Haruki Murakami; mobility; Dance Dance Dance; “occult code/travel;” globalization

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2021.03612