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The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea
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The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  6,964 ratings  ·  465 reviews
A major work of art - Time

A band of savage thirteen-year-old boys reject the adult world as illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental, and train themselves in a brutal callousness they call 'objectivity'. When the mother of one of them begins an affair with a ship's officer, he and his friends idealise the man at first; but it is not long before they conclude that he is in f
Paperback, 181 pages
Published 1999 by Vintage (first published 1963)
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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

The title The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea is a poetic rendering of the Japanese, 午後の曳航, literally "Afternoon's Towing". The English translation is done much in the spirit of Remembrance of Things Past ( A la recherche du temps perdu = "In Search of Lost Time"). It's evident (in the titles at least) that something is gained in translation as well as lost.

We know then, at any rate, that we are going to have a very imperfect understanding of this book. And even if we know Japanese h

Knowing the story of Yukuio Mishima's life, and its tragic end, leads the reader of this novel into some dark parts of the author's mind. The characters in this novel are thinly veiled allegorical figures of Mishima's world view: his distaste for Western influences on Japan, his need for rigorous fastidiousness in his personal life, his desire to see Japan return to its ultra-conservative glory of yesteryear. Mishima was so consumed with this vision that he staged a failed coup attempt in 1970 a

It is a generally accepted fact that teenagers are weird, all over the world, and all over the ages. Somehow, Japanese teenagers manage to be ten time weirder than the norm, and 13 years old Noboru is a prime example:

He never cried, not even in his dreams, for hard-heartedness was a point of pride. A large iron anchor withstanding the corrosion of the sea and scornful of the barnacles and oysters that harass the hulls of ships, sinking polished and indifferent through heaps of broken glas
The problem with expressing a lack of appreciation for "transgressive" material is the underlying assumption that such an expression is evidence of weakness. Weak stomach, weak nerves, a weak anything that explains why a tolerance for violence is not ready and willing. No one calls someone "weak" for proclaiming a dislike for the romance genre, so prominent in society is the disdain for the potential creation of bonds of empathy between strangers. I find the contrast interesting enough to keep i ...more

"If I were an amoeba, he thought, with an infinitesimal body, I could defeat ugliness. A man isn't tiny or giant enough to defeat anything."

Ryuji, the "emasculated" sailor in Mishima's great novel, thinks such thoughts on long sea voyages, standing watch on deck; his only friends being the stars. His vague notions of glory -- that something great awaits him at the next port -- allow him to avoid his sense of powerlessness and the reality of his aimlessness. His idea of rom
Nate D
Apr 12, 2012 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boyhood hinterlands at the edge of the empty world
Recommended to Nate D by: a procession of doomed kittens
Like some baroque poisoned confection, a massive slice of dense chocolate cake, rich to the border of nausea, decked out with delicately overwrought sugar flowers and decorative drips and curlicues of livid icing laced with arsenic. That's the style here: enjoyably, beautifully overwritten in chokingly heavy prose, but riddled with dark portents and pockets of caustic nihilism. It'd be ridiculous if it weren't so serious, laughable if not so compelling. It's good. I'm having a hard time judging ...more
Feb 26, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: voyagers willing to brave the risk of seasickness
Recommended to Jessica by: jane smiley; tosh, kimley
Shelves: leetle-boys
Argh. Okay, so I've been agonizing since finishing this book about how many stars to grant it. What should the stars mean? Do they stand for how good I think a book is? Or do they signify how much I enjoyed reading it? I think this is a three-point-fiver for me, really. Argh! It's so tough to say....

This book contained a great deal of five-star material. While there were several words and phrases that really jarred, these could have been clunky translation glitches, and in general the language a
Eddie Watkins
Simple and wicked. Wicked? How about violently inevitable. Like a ritual the outcome is preordained and known, but for those who fall under its spell there is no loss of power. A brutal vision wedded to a dreaminess; a clear-sightedness goggled by fantasy blurs; an adolescent sexual awakening derailed into murder. This is one sexy bludgeon of a book, like a geisha sporting top-of-the-line brass knuckles.
A very wicked book of sorts, but also a great book on children and how they think. Which is kind of devilish on my part to say - but Mishima captures the kids' view of something very grown-up. The book is very textural in that it is about a lonely woman's erotic impulses as well as her child picking that aspect of her personality or sensuality. Essential book in the Mishima world.
Allie Whiteley
I didn't quite finish it, actually, I got to page 165. But I was so revolted by what was evidently going to happen next that I refused to read further.

Fusako Kuroda, a successful business woman, has been a widow for 5 years. By chance when visiting his ship with her 13 year-old son Noboru, she meets Ryuji Tsukazaki the Second Mate. She invites him to dinner, one thing leads to another (as it does), they fall in love and he decides to abandon his life on the sea in order to marry her. So far so n
This is the first Yukio Mishima I've read and I found it intriguing, as I feel there's a lot to tease out in this slim volume. For example, are we faced with teenage boys who are disturbed by the changing times, or are they reacting to post-war Japan? My guess is the latter.

The writing (and translation) is very good and I'm sure the beautiful descriptions of place carry some symbolism. One such sentence had a perfect ending: "... dusk had come already to the bottom of the pool."

I'd love to disc
Estranho. Intenso. Doloroso.

Uma "elegia" à Morte: Majestosa. Aclamada. Heróica. Sedutora.
Apenas abandonada pelo Amor…e por ele Vencedora…

“A vida humana é finita mas eu gostaria de viver para sempre”, escreveu Mishima no dia em que se suicidou.
Mishima is clearly a brilliant writer--his prose (at least, the English translation of it), puts you right in the situation. Unfortunately, this is part of the problem for me, for as well as a brilliant writer he was a profoundly disturbed man (he eventually committed seppuku, Japanese ritual suicide).

The book is, loosely, about a sailor who turns his back on dreams of glory on the sea to love a woman, and how that relationship and the world is seen by the woman's son, Noboru. Noboru is part of
After reading this novel, I didn't think it was all right for the 6-boy gang, all under 14, to reach such a decisive horrible verdict on Ryuji's prospective murder. It was purely eventually planned mostly by the chief (his name anonymous) who successfully brainwashed his followers; in other words, they were not aware of being dictated to commit an unthinkable crime by their ruthless dictator. I think this might possibly be an interesting case of juvenile psychology since, like a dramatic novel, ...more
I read this book almost two years ago, and just recently stumbled upon it while doing some cleaning. The anger I felt back when I read it came flooding back, so it obviously had an effect on me.

I've read and enjoyed Mishima before (Forbidden Colors and Confessions of a Mask), but words cannot describe how much I hated this book. The children in this story are the embodiment of evil. They are horrible, horrible monsters who deserve to be locked up for life. Based on the glowing reviews, I must be
David Contreras
All outsiders are enemies. We are a gang of one.

Mishima's typical samurai-grace with the pen is on full display here. Simplicity has its rewards, but for me, strands itself on several occasions. The 13-year-old, now fatherless, Noboru, has a reckless curiosity, one which separates him from the essence of his mother via midnight peephole rendezvouses. When newcomer, the overly eager sailor, Ryuji, enters this set-in-stone paradigm, a childish anger churns and eventually erupts in a classic endin
Beauty and the beast! As that teapot sang "It's a tale as old as time". Noboru watches his mother in her room through a chink in the wall that was chiselled by billeted soldiers during the occupation (those kinky gaijin). He then watches his new sailor hero and mother have sex. The sailor compromises on his notions of death and glory. Noboru, with his weird nihilistic friends, forces him back on that pedestal.

Note to animal lovers: no kittens were harmed in the reading of this book.

"His broad s
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea follows the adventures of Noburu a 13 year old boy and his crazy gang of schoolmates, "all smallish, delicate boys and excellent students," who try to oppose their relative powerlessness in the world by developing a dark idealistic "philosophy" that glorifies inhumanity and emotional detachment.
We are also told the story of Fusako, Noburu's mother, the widowed proprieter of a successful high-end boutique, and her passionate affair with Ryuji, a sailo
Tyler Jones
I read this book twenty years ago on the advice of a older friend who up to that point seemed to me the wisest judge of fiction. I also, up until that point, saw novels as universally good things and that we could only become better people by reading them. This book changed all that. I felt as if I was in the presence of an evil mind. The children in the book did not seem real at all, but rather the projections of what Mishima wished children to be - naturally cold killers with a fully developed ...more
I was a little hesitant to read this because someone said that it has a similar feel to Lord of the Flies (which I didn't like, except for the last 5 chapters). But you know what? I think this is even more disturbing than Lord of the Flies.

This is the first Mishima I've ever read and the one thing that really struck me was how spot-on he is with characterization and how it really makes you understand a character's way of thinking. You might understand the characters but let's not kid ourselves:
Mishima creates very evil characters but he doesn't condemn them or let them suffer the consequences of their actions. It's very unnnerving. But at the same time, he's an excellent writer and story-teller.

He unloads a lot of philosophy in the text but the reader can't trust that that is what the writer is espousing. Is it just part of the story? What does the author really think about this idea or the treatment of this person. Like the mother. Most of his books I've read, the women are treated
The first Mishima I read, and I was instantly in love (of course) it's both oedipal and misogynistic, tender and brutal, erotic and filthy.
Like many 20th century Japanese authors, his life is one I would probably do best not to replicate, but his passion for writing is admirable. A little too much though.
Definitely, definitely, definitely has to be read through to the end.
If Mishima were an artist, I'd assume he'd paint with only an oily black paint that would run down the canvas, but of course he'd add remarkable detail beyond that. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea is a dark book, certainly, and the kitten scene was enough to nearly make me put the book down. But Mishima knows how to work this, to control the ebb and flow of bile, and as the book ends he progressively chooses to flow with it. The prose is absolutely beautiful, poignant, and striking a ...more
Dopo Ishiguro e Kirino dovrei averci fatto il callo alla spietatezza degli scrittori giapponesi e invece no, ogni volta sto male.
Non conoscevo Mishima, ho letto questo libro senza sapere nulla di lui e a libro finito mi sono detta, ok, mi sembra chiaro che Mishima aveva un’anima sovversiva di estrema destra. Ho cercato la sua biografia su internet e, sì, ci ho visto giusto, Mishima è stato un pazzo nazionalista che all’età di quarantacinque anni si è tolto la vita in diretta televisa dopo aver
Oliver Twist & Shout
Sin duda se trata de un buena novela. Uno de sus principales atractivos es esa prosa templada pero lírica, rica en descripciones sensoriales y evocadoras, en la que también surgen sin estridencia hechos más oscuros como los deseos incestuosos de Noboru o las experiencias violentas de su grupo de amigos.
Pero encuentro que, aparte de eso, los logros de la escritura de Mishima van más allá. Por una parte están los destellos puntuales. Por ejemplo esa descripción de la piscina seca que aparece haci
Mishima’s a strange beast. I once heard him described as a bit adolescent, which seems unfair to me, but it is true he’s pretty preoccupied with sex and death. Certainly I remember that part of adolescence. This book features a disturbing and vividly imagined gang of 13-year-old boys, but also a well-drawn pair of adults. Sure, Mishima’s sometimes a little baroque and other times a little clumsy (a painful stretch of dialogue here, though I do allow for the possibility that blame might be laid u ...more
Mustafa Aiglon
uzakdoğu kültürü kadar içimi ürperten bir şeyler yok ruhumda. en vahşi, en zorlu dürtüleri bile olağan bir şekilde anlatmaları gerçekten içimi ürpertiyor. hikaye oldukça ürpertici üstüne bir tutam da yazarın hayat hikayesi okununca neredesin ya alfred hitchcock diye geriliyorsunuz.

şöyle bitirelim:

"bilirsiniz, buruk olur tadı yüceliğin"
Shaza ╭♥╯
وصلت لنصها و حاولت اكملها تاني مقدرتش من الملل !
فقلت بقى انا اكملها بقراية ريفيوهات اللي صمدوا و قروها قبلي
و اعتقد انى حتى لو كنت ضغطت ع نفسي و كملتها مكنتش هقعد اتأمل فيها و اوصل للاستنباط اللي وصلي من قراية الريفيوهات
اوكيه .. قصة عظيمة و فيها رمزية عالية . كلام لذيذ .. بس ايه ده كله قصاد انها ممله جداااااا ؟؟؟ ,, يمكن عيب المترجم ؟ يمكن !
David Bulgarelli
The sailor in the title of the book refers to Ryuji Tsukazaki, a sailor who falls in love with Fusako, the mother of Noboru. Noboru is a 13-year-old boy with an oedipal complex who suffers from the cold influence of an unnamed boy known only as "the chief" who acts as leader to his group of friends. The novel is quite short, so I can't say much else about it without giving too much away.

This novel is almost deceptive in how dark it is. You almost don't realize how disturbing some of the things i
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Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威) who was a Japanese author, poet and playwright, famous for both his highly notable post-war writings and the circumstances of his ritual suicide by seppuku.

Mishima wrote 40 novels, 18 plays, 20 books of short stories, and at least 20 books of essays, one libretto, as well as one film. A large portion of this oeuvre comprises books
More about Yukio Mishima...
Spring Snow Confessions of a Mask The Temple of the Golden Pavilion The Sound of Waves Runaway Horses

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“An ugliness unfurled in the moonlight and soft shadow and suffused the whole world. If I were an amoeba, he thought, with an infinitesimal body, I could defeat ugliness. A man isn’t tiny or giant enough to defeat anything.” 47 likes
“Real danger is nothing more than just living. Of course, living is merely the chaos of existence, but more than that it's a crazy mixed-up business of dismantling existence instant by instant to the point where the original chaos is restored, and taking strength from the uncertainty and the fear that chaos brings to re-create existence instant by instant. You won't find another job as dangerous as that. There isn't any fear in existence itself, or any uncertainty, but living creates it.” 31 likes
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