The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Thirteen-year-old Noboru is a member of a gang of highly philosophical teenage boys who reject the tenets of the adult world — to them, adult life is illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental. When Noboru’s widowed mother is romanced by Ryuji, a sailor, Noboru is thrilled. He idolizes this rugged man of the sea as a hero. But his admiration soon turns to hatred, as Ryuji fo

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    Megha

    May 02, 2011

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    review of another edition

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    reviews

    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. R

    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.
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