Monday 20 May 2024

Never Touch A Book By Any Author Who Had Not Been Dead At Least 30 Years

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood, translated by Jay Rubin (London: Vintage, 2003; 1987), p.38; p.39:

   "This man says he has read The Great Gatsby three times," he said as if to himself.
"Well, any friend of Gatsby is a friend of mine."
   And so we became friends. This happened in October.
   The better I got to know Nagasawa, the stranger he seemed. I had met a lot of weird people in my day, but none as strange as Nagasawa. He was a far more voracious reader than me, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least 30 years. "That's the only kind of book I can trust," he said.
   "It's not that I don't believe in contemporary literature," he added, "but I don't want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short."
   "That's why I read them. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That's the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that. Haven't you noticed, Watanabe? You and I are the only real ones in this dorm. The other guys are crap."