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The sailor who fell from grace with the sea…

The sailor who fell from grace with the sea (edition 1976)

by Yukio Mishima

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1,613304,504 (3.83)1 / 84
Title:The sailor who fell from grace with the sea
Authors:Yukio Mishima
Info:Penguin (1976), Unknown Binding
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, Japan, merchant navy, adolescents, menswear, dead cat

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The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima


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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
This book scared me and gave me nightmares. Also, it confused me because part of it sounded like bad erotica and parts of it sounded like good dark writing. It was all pretty predictable but in that awful-car-wreck sort of way, you can't look away even though it disgusts you. I'm glad he didn't spell out the last scene. It's enough to imagine it. ( )
  JimmyChanga | Sep 11, 2013 |
This book scared me and gave me nightmares. Also, it confused me because part of it sounded like bad erotica and parts of it sounded like good dark writing. It was all pretty predictable but in that awful-car-wreck sort of way, you can't look away even though it disgusts you. I'm glad he didn't spell out the last scene. It's enough to imagine it. ( )
  JimmyChanga | Sep 11, 2013 |
Six-word review: Disturbing things happen in beautiful prose.

Six by six:

Noboru and his droogs administer retribution.

Wayward boy punishes his mother's lover.

Beauty and horror fondle each other.

Adolescent's fallen hero meets cold-blooded Zen.

Young gods callously abjure conventional morality.

Death goes whoring in child's guise.

  ( )
4 vote Meredy | Jun 3, 2013 |
I had a slightly different review in mind until I read a little bit about Mishima's life. In light of what Mishima did to himself, I am not really sure what to make of The Sailor Who.... While it is dark, reading it I knew it was only a story. But knowing that this darkness could have emanated from Mishima's personal thoughts makes it extremely unnerving.

Fuskao, Noboru's mother, represents westernization; which Mishima despised. Noboru, a 13 year old, is more in the favor of traditional Japan. Ryuji, the sailor, dreams of a heroic death and glory, which makes Noboru worship him. Ryuji's dreams represent Mishima's own political thoughts on achieving glory for his country. When Ryuji abandons all such thoughts of heroism, Noboru reacts violently. The question is, how much of Noboru's psychology reflects Mishima's own mind. That Noboru's vileness goes unchallenged and unpunished hints towards there being some parallels.

I know The Sailor Who... was written seven years before Mishima committed ritual suicide. Also I shouldn't be drawing any conclusions based on reading a short work of fiction and one wikipedia article. But I find it difficult to view the ideas in the book and Mishima's life separately.

The gracefulness of the writing stands very much in contrast with the ominous content. His writing is very lyrical. The scene descriptions are vivid, very much like painting with words. Sunlight dances on the pages giving everything a different kind of glow. He infuses some beauty even in cringe-worthy scenes.
In the second half of the book, when story begins to take a dark turn, there is a change in the tone of the writing as well. While poetic descriptions are not completely abandoned, there are fewer of those. On approaching the ending, the story, however, seems to drag for a bit, largely because I could see what was going to happen a long way ahead. I was expecting it to generate a sense of foreboding, but that was lost.

The biggest strength of the book, in my eyes, is the treatment of Noboru's psychology. Mishima provides some perspective on a character I can never hope to understand too well. Once I can digest how disturbed a child Noboru already is, the rest will perhaps be somewhat acceptable. After all, misguided beliefs and fanatsies are not that uncommon among teenagers. Noboru's disenchantment with his hero serves as a cue that makes him lash out, turning his beliefs into something more sinister and real.

Not only Noboru, the other characters are not very relatable either. This is more like a mere peek into a world completely alien to me. Also I can't really expect to be able to view anything with the same eyes as Mishima did. I am ok with that, I think.

While characters are not fully fleshed out, Ryuji and Noboru have enough going on to let us see who they are. Fuskao, the only major female character, on the other hand was completely dis-appointing. She is introduced to us as Noboru's mother and Ryuji's love-interest, and that's about it. Other than playing these assigned roles, anything like a personality is non-existent. She does run a business of her own, but the only role she seems to play there is to buy stuff and the intricacies of the business are handled by her male associate. There is just one chapter where, of these three main characters, only Fusako makes an appearance. And she uses this stage-time to discuss her prospective husband with another woman. Isn't that what chick-lit is for?! If you are drawing a female character who is a single mother running a business of her own, why not let her have at least one original, smart thought? Why can't she be feminine, and not be hollow at the same time?

Apart from a complaint or two, I do think highly of The Sailor Who... for the most part. It is written economically, but there is lot to chew upon. ( )
  HearTheWindSing | Mar 31, 2013 |
Books read in the past:

One of the creepier and more chilling novels I've read, and certainly so by volume. Mishima packs in a great deal of cold contempt with spare language, vivid images, and terrifying outcomes. An eloquent and enduring novel with long-lasting resonance. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
"Both novels have their brilliant moments, and both fall short of sustained brilliance."

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yukio Mishimaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nathan, JohnTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Sleep well, dear."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
"Gogo no Eiko" was written in five-months, was researched in Yokohama, and was, in the words of Mishima's friend and the English version's translator, John Nathan, a "romantic" novel (190). The novel was published in the early-60s; a period of decline for Mishima that began with "Kyoko ni Ie." The novel sold a modest 50,000 copies, which was slightly better than the 40,000 sales "Utsukushii Hoshi" had garnered the previous year, but it was nowhere near the 200,000 copies Mishima was used to in the late-50s. The poor sales of and the indifferent critical reception towards "Gogo no Eiko" so disappointed Mishima that he went to Kodansha and apologized for failing to write a bestseller.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679750150, Paperback)

"The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea" tells of a band of savage thirteen-year-old boys who reject the adult world as illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental, and train themselves in a brutal callousness they call 'ojectivity'. When the mother of one of them begins an affair with a ship's officer, he and his friends idealize the man at first; but it is not long before they conclude that he is in fact soft and romantic. They regard their disappointment in him as an act of betrayal on his part and react violently.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Explores an adolescent's response to his mother's love affair with a handsome visitor to Yokohama.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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