Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Tim Evans (Director), Tim Frandy, Kate Horigan

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis examines the use of folklore and the folkloresque in Haruki Murakami’s novel Hitsuji wo meguru bōken, or, as it is translated by Alfred Birnbaum, A Wild Sheep Chase. Murakami blends together Japanese and Western folklore to present a Japan that has been colonized by a post-national, global capitalistic force. At the same time, Murakami presents a strategy to resist this colonizing force by placing agency onto the individual and suggesting that it is still possible to craft a meaningful identity within the Japanese/Western blended, globalized society in which these individuals now exist.

Alongside examining the use of folklore in this novel, issues of translation are also considered by comparing Murakami’s original Japanese text to Birnbaum’s English translation. The fields of folkloristics and translation studies inform this comparison, and a new way to discuss translations (especially those that come from a text in which folklore is central) is developed. These two major threads are pulled together in an analysis of Murakami’s role as a multinational writer. His blending of multiple cultural references and languages make his message on constructing an identity from a globalized culture more accessible to those outside of Japan; rather than focusing on what is lost in Birnbaum’s translation, this thesis uses a folkloristic perspective on translation studies and explores how Birnbaum expands upon Murakami’s process.


East Asian Languages and Societies | Folklore | Translation Studies