Time and utopian imagination in Murakami Haruki's hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world

Wing Yin Virginia YEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examines the utopian vision in Murakami Haruki's Hard- Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It attempts to analyze the novel's utopian elements in detail and examine them in relation to the socioeconomic situation during the time it was written. The paper begins with an analysis of the novel's temporal structure, which aims to make clear that the "utopia" in the novel reveals a strong sense of anxiety over the contemporary urban condition. The observation will be further developed into a discussion of the dialectical tension between the two worlds in the novel: a technologically advanced city and an archaic town. I argue that the disparity between the two worlds can be analyzed from the standpoint of social criticism. The seemingly contrasting worlds work together to mirror and critique modern societies, pointing out a range of social maladies that prevail in the modern urban world. On the one hand, the hard-boiled city unfolds the social mechanisms that control urban people's lives; it also questions the meaning and value of a predominantly consumerist lifestyle. On the other hand, the idyllic town critiques societal conformism. This work of science fiction also obliquely criticizes historical forgetfulness, a consequence of a material- centered culture which focuses upon the present and deemphasizes the past. The consequence of severing historical links, on both a personal and cultural basis, is presented and dramatized in the novel as a chaotic memory. The last part of the article focuses on the novel's ending. It submits that the author attempts to break away from the usual binarism in utopian narratives by foregrounding the theme of memory and self at the story's end. Copyright © 2015 淡江大學外國語文學院.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-69
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Social Mechanisms
Dialectical Tensions
Science Fiction
Social Criticism


Yeung, V. (2015). Time and utopian imagination in Murakami Haruki's hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world. Tamkang Review, 45(2), 47-69.


  • Hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world
  • Murakami Haruki
  • Utopia
  • Time in literature
  • Contemporary Japanese novels
  • Alt. title:《世界末日與冷酷異境》裡的時間及烏托邦概念