“It takes time, though, for Naoko’s face to appear. And as the years have passed, the time has grown longer. The sad truth is that what I could recall in 5 seconds all too soon needed ten, then 30, then a full minute – like shadows lengthening at dusk. Someday, I suppose, the shadows will be swallowed up in darkness.”
So speaks Toru, the narrator of Norwegian Wood, Haruki’s Murakami’s immortal love story. This harrowing tale of desire, impossible love and loss lingers forever in the reader’s memory: what could have been, the search for reasons, the desperate hope. This is a romantic heroine, doomed, condemned to a personal hell: “Don’t you see? It’s just not possible for one person to watch over another person forever and ever. I mean, suppose we got married. You’d have to work during the day. Who’s going to watch over me while you’re away?” As for him, Toru, there will be no peace, those fleeing memories do not reduce the pain, so there is only one choice:
“Once, long ago, when I was still young, when the memories were far more vivid than they are now, I often tried to write about her. But I couldn’t produce a line… Now, though, I realize that all I can place in the imperfect vessel of writing are imperfect memories and imperfect thoughts.”
The thought of Naoko, for us who have met her only in the book, fills us also with an unbearable sorrow. So is the power of great literature.