So the narrator, we don't know his name, but he lost his sister when the sister was twelve, he fifteen. He marries his wife, Yuzu, in part because he reminds him of the dead sister. He gets claustrophobia after seeing the sister in the coffin.
The wife leaves him, and is involved with other men. The narrator wanders a bit, stops being a portrait painter, and then goes to live in the house of a painter who has dementia and is now in an institution. This is where he finds the Don Giovanni painting, painted by the painter with dementia. A man, with a youthful face but white hair offers him a great sum of money to paint his portrait, and he agrees. But meanwhile he hears, at night, a bell ringing on the property. He goes outside and finds the ruins of some kind of temple. The rich man hires someone to help dig up the ruins, and they find an antique bell. Some kind of spirit has been ringing the bell, of a Buddhist monk (monjo).
So the mystery of the painting, and the mystery of the bell. All these talismanic objects found in the house. The rich man might have a daughter (paternity is unclear) who is about the age the narrator's sister was when she died. Does the rich man have some hidden motive?
I find the narrator telegraphing the sense of mysteriousness in a somewhat contrived way. We have two unexplained objects. There is some idea that the painter with dementia spent time in Austria in the 1930s, and so there is some Nazi theme that's going to enter. They are constantly listening the Germanic music, left there by the elder painter.
I'm eager to see how it will pull all together: the incest theme with the Don Juan archetype and the historical guilt.
In terms of the Catalan, the language has not disappeared for me yet. I still am seeing the language, not seeing through it. Maybe that's why I like reading in this language? Unlike other people (some other people) I like looking at language, not just through it. This harder to do the more one knows the language.
"I find the narrator telegraphing the sense of mysteriousness in a somewhat contrived way...I'm eager to see how it will pull all together."
This perfectly describes my experience (and enjoyment) of reading Murakami.
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