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The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan (1975)
by Ivan Morris
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Alexander, Robin Hood, Wellington, George Washington... The Western literatures are packed with the stories-real and otherwise-of diverse heroes, but most of them share the common element of victory. Many of them died heroically to achieve their goals. In Japan, however, many of the most revered heroes lost their lives without achieving their goals, and in many cases fought their battles in full realization that they would end in abject defeat and death. This cultural background remains a bedrock underlying the modern Japanese psyche, and continues to shape the Japanese as individuals and a society even today, unconsciously, in the same way the West is still affected by the myths and legends passed down from Greece and Rome. Long recognized as a core book in any study of Japanese culture and literature, The Nobility of Failure examines the lives and deaths of nine historical individuals who faced overwhelming odds, and, realizing they were doomed, accepted their fate--to be killed in battle or by execution, to wither in exile, or to escape through ritual suicide. Morris then turns his attention to the kamikaze pilots of World War II, who gave their lives in defense of their nation in the full realization that their deaths would have little effect on the course of the war. Through detail, crystal-clear prose and unmatched narrative sweep and brilliance, Professor Morris takes you into the innermost hearts of the Japanese people.
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An edition of this book was published by Kurodahan Press.
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