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The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea…

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (original 1963; edition 1994)

by Yukio Mishima, John Nathan (Translator)

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1,779333,945 (3.84)2 / 111
Title:The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
Authors:Yukio Mishima
Other authors:John Nathan (Translator)
Info:Vintage (1994), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima (1963)


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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This is a very short read, but don't let that fool you. It is deeply disturbing, haunting. It has impact. Noboru is the 13-year-old Japanese son of a widowed mother. He wildly loves the sea and when his mother falls for a sailor, he things his world is perfect. But Ryuji, the sailor, quickly plummets from favor. None of the characters are particularly, or even slightly, loveable, and the story hurtles to an unhappy ending (hence the title), but as a reader, you have to read on hoping for the how and the why.

Mishima, the author, was an interesting man. Many of his personal views on sexuality, masculinity, secrecy and isolation find their way into this book.

I am still not sure how to rate this one. Do I reward something that I really didn't like, that in fact creeped me out? On the other hand, I know it will stay with me for a long time. I certainly reacted to it viscerally. Hmmmm.... ( )
  Berly | Apr 16, 2016 |
I am actually not at all sure that I do want to read this, given that it sounds just like Lord of the Flies. But I am curious.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
In Lolita, Nabokov pulls a neat literary trick when he makes the main character a well-spoken scumbag. Despite his ostensible role as the protagonist, and his ability to manipulate the story as its narrator, Humbert Humbert is a villain through and through, and a reader who pays attention can't help but be disgusted by him. There are readers who come out of Lolita thinking Humbert Humbert a sympathetic man, or even the hero of the story, but those are the readers who can't think critically, who the book was obviously wasted on. Though I didn't love that book, Nabokov's manipulation of the reader (combined with his impressive prose) makes Lolita an interesting read.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea likewise gives us a pair of characters portrayed at various points as sympathetic protagonists, but who the discerning reader will identify as emotionally stunted with a warped worldview and thought process. Ryuji and Noboru are a sailor and a young boy who, despite their lack of accomplishments, see themselves as apart from society and superior to it. The rest of the human race are mostly just unthinking sheep, but Ryuji and Noboru know that their ambition places them on a higher level. This unjustified and unhealthy perspective ends badly for both of them.

Here's the difference between Mishima and Nabokov: it's far from clear to me whether Mishima is intentionally trying to manipulate his readers in to sympathizing with ultimately disgusting characters, or if he genuinely thinks that the mindsets of Ryuji and Noboru are sympathetic. Mishima, after all, had a pretty strange view of the world, one that ultimately culminated in his theatrical suicide (his call for ultranationalism seemingly a pretext by which to achieve the type of death he craved). The character of Fusako, for instance, is given little depth and does little to refute the views of Noboru and Ryuji that most people are uncritical and without grand thoughts or lofty ambitions. If Mishima wrote this book as a criticism or warning against these feelings of aloofness and superiority that Ryuji and Noboru hold, then that's good, although I didn't think the rest of the work elevated the book beyond that. If, alternatively, Mishima presented these two characters with those thoughts because they mirrored his own thinking, or because he thought those attitudes worth sympathizing with... well, let's just say it's always a good idea to be critical of not only the text itself but of the author's work as a whole as well. I'll have to read something else by Mishima to see if this thread recurs elsewhere in his work. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (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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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.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:02 -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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