In an English translation of Haruki Murakami's story "Sleep", there is a sentence that goes like this: What, then, of the enormous fund of time I had consumed back then reading books?

The original Japanese means that she is wondering about what became of all that time she had spent reading. (She had been a voracious reader but is realizing she doesn't remember much of what she read.)

My question is this: to a native English speaker, does the phrase "enormous fund of time" come across as being unusual? weird? Or is it okay (perhaps because "fund" is used with the verb "consume"... but do you even say "consume a fund")?


4 Answers 4


Here is the definition of fund (from Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary [2003]) that I suspect the translator had in mind in using the phrase "enormous fund of time":

fund n ... 2 : an available quantity of material or intangible resources : SUPPLY

If you accept (as I do) that time qualifies as a "material or intangible resource," it seems reasonable—despite not being especially common—to refer to "an available quantity" of that resource as a "fund." At any rate, the Eleventh Collegiate's definition 2 suggests that such usage is reasonable.

  • 1
    Agreed that the phrase "fund of time" is grammatically reasonable, although uncommon. Personally I would call it "poetic language", but I wouldn't object to its usage. ngrams compares it relatively favourably against other poetic options.
    – AndyT
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 8:56

It does not sound natural

It doesn't have to. It's literature.

'Fund of time' is not correct usage.

It doesn't have to be. It's literature.

An enormous amount of time and long hours as alternatives miss the point. "A fund" is a limited amount of something kept in reserve. Once a fund is exhausted, that's it. No more. A large part of the reader's life has been consumed, never to be replaced. Consumed will do fine. If you "invest" in a fund, you put money in. When you "consume" something from a reserve, you take it out.

"What then", as the OP explains, implies the speaker's dismay at the waste of part of her life, which she has used to no profit. So much of the meaning of this sentence is "invested" in the word "fund".

Strong narrative writing manipulates language in forms we are not used to. That's one of the ways in which literature differs from, say, a service manual.

  • 1
    Very nice explanation. Note also that "consume" also echoes the English usage for voracious readers -- "to consume a book" or "to devour a book." If the OP is correct, the reader in question remembers little of what she has read, so all she is left with is time eaten up.
    – deadrat
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 8:12

It does not sound natural, it seems to be a too literal translation based on what you stated it was originally.

Based on the information given I would write it as"

What, then, of the enormous amount of time I had invested (back then) reading books?

Depending on the surrounding text i might even leave out the "back then" section, it doesn't seem to alter the message.


'Fund of time' is not correct usage. Furthermore, 'funds' are not 'consumed', but are 'used' or 'utilized'. So, apparently the sentence you mentioned sounds unnatural.

'Amount of time' sounds too generic, and as such won't be appealing in a novel or work of literature. There are many words to express 'amount of time', based on different contexts. In this case, you could use 'long hours'. So the whole sentence could be re-written as:

What, then, of the long hours I spent back then reading books?

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