Mishima, Yukio. The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. Trans. John Nathan. 1965. London: Vintage UK, 2006. Summary
: Thirteen year old Noboru's mother gets married to a sailor named Ryuji, and Noboru becomes increasingly disillusioned with his manliness. So along with a gang of boys his own age who all believe that the adult world is hypocritical and soft, the ex-sailor is taken to a secluded place and vivisected. Comments
: Umm...right. First The Wasp Factory
, now The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
. Why am I reading all of this stuff about murderous, teenage male sociopaths again? At least it wasn't nearly so explicitly violent. I've heard warnings about how disturbing this one is, and perhaps I'm just innured these days, but I didn't think it was too too bad. Besides, it left just the right amount to the imagination at the end. Actually, though, this Japanese-standard short novel is about more than Noboru: it tells the story from the perspectives of both his mother Fusako and the sailor Ryuji in quite convincing, humane fashion. While you know from Mishima's biography that he was probably most sympathetic to Noboru and especially the privileged by alienated Chief boy, all of the other characters came exquisitely alive for me as well. Although, come to think of it, Ryuji's realization that his idealism regarding the sea was just a crock and another sort of prison may have been something the author felt as well. Anyway, this novel is late Mishima, published in 1963 right before he started his Sea of Fertility Tetralogy
, and the prose is spare and skilled. (The English translation by John Nathan is also comfortable and natural-sounding, although I think there were a few places where it was mistranslated.) It is far and away my favorite of his works that I've yet read. Rating
- A compact yet explosive exploration of the postwar Japan psyche. Highly recommended.