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Patriotism

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,639 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
One of the most powerful short stories ever written: Yukio Mishima’s masterpiece about the erotics of patriotism and honor, love and suicide.

By now, Yukio Mishima’s (1925-1970) dramatic demise through an act of seppuku after an inflammatory public speech has become the stuff of literary legend. With Patriotism, Mishima was able to give his heartwrenching patriotic idealism
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Hardcover, Sixth Printing, 57 pages
Published 1995 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published April 10th 1941)
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Suicide
110th out of 462 books — 421 voters
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Japanese Literature
69th out of 184 books — 209 voters


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Community Reviews

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Traveller
Oct 01, 2015 Traveller rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, books-by-men

Mishima addressing the troops before withdrawing to commit seppuku.

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On the twenty-eighth of February, 1936 (on the third day, that is, of the February 26 Incident), Lieutenant Shinji Takeyama of the Konoe Transport Battalion—profoundly disturbed by the knowledge that his closest colleagues had been with the mutineers from the beginning, and indignant at the imminent prospect of Imperial troops attacking Imperial troops- took his officer’s sword and ceremonially disemboweled himself in the eig
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Mike Puma

First things first—the book, the physical book, has some problems: what appears, to me, as occasionally awkward translation and very unfortunate copy-editing. I wanted to get that off my chest each of those problems bugged me right from the beginning. I soldiered on, but the experience of reading was tainted. ‘Nuff said.

It’s almost impossible to say much about Patriotism without spoilers. If you’ve read the title description you know what those are and shouldn’t be surprised by anything that fol

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Junta
The original Japanese title of this novella is 憂国 (yūkoku), for which no English word exists as an equivalent.

The primary senses of 憂 are (the state or action of) worrying and being concerned, while secondary senses include (the state or action of) suffering, being ill, sad, reluctant, melancholy and cold. 国 is the kanji for country or nation. 憂国 as a word combines these into the state of being concerned about, and having your thoughts with the (present and future) state of one's country.

While P
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Nicole~
Oct 31, 2014 Nicole~ rated it really liked it
The Sino-Japanese tradition was very important to Yukio Mishima (January 14, 1925 – November 25, 1970), who held strong ideals of the militaristic glory days of old Japan.

In Patriotism(1960), Mishima uses the love-death theme executing the ancient ritual suicide, viscerally playing it out through a recently married couple. Lieutenant Takeyama returns home following the failed coup d'état of 1936, the Ni NI Roku Incident. Rather than follow orders to execute the rebels- his friends, the young a
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Trin
Mar 13, 2010 Trin rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japanese-lit
Reading this book is sort of what I’d imagine watching a snuff film would be like. The story is a simple one: a young soldier in ’30s Japan comes home and informs his wife that in order to preserve his honor, he must commit seppuku before the night is through. The wife proves her love and devotion by agreeing to go with him, so they calmly organize their affairs, make love one last time, and then kill themselves. All of this is beautifully, and in fact, lovingly described. Parts of it, especiall ...more
Steven
Nov 17, 2015 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese, literature
This story about lieutenant Shinji Takeyama and his young wife, Reiko, who commit suicide together after a mutiny against the Imperial Army, is one of the most harrowing tales I have read. The description of seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment) is graphic and visceral, yet lyrical and beautiful; knowing that Mishima himself performed the act in 1970 to end his life adds an eerie layer of significance to the story.
jeremy
Dec 26, 2009 jeremy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, fiction
how to fairly review a book that one finds well written yet marked by a dubious morality? yukio mishima's patriotism, though seemingly beloved by nearly all others, did not agree with me entirely. other reviews praise this famous tale as the epitome of devotion and romance, though i found it to be rather misogynistic, the very antipathy of love and allegiance (however not lacking in passion). i have never considered misguided adventures into the realms of martyrdom worthy of celebration (especia ...more
Billy O'Callaghan
Dec 17, 2015 Billy O'Callaghan rated it really liked it
Shelves: around-the-world
Following a military mutiny, a young, recently married lieutenant gets the job of rounding up the mutineers, many of who happen to be his friends. He discusses the matter with his wife and decides that the only honourable course of action is to commit ritual suicide. His wife, devoted and in love, elects to join him in the act.
Yukio Mishima was one of 20th century Japanese literature's most important and influential writers. My first experience of his writing came with the brilliant novel, 'The
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Didi
May 25, 2013 Didi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting novelette. Striking images all placed on a symbolic backdrop of white and red like the book cover. It was amazing how Mishima takes the reader through a horrible ritual but makes it feel like an art. Disturbing. It's a very quick read. So quick that I read it twice. I kept noticing things everywhere in the text. Review on the blog is up at http://didibooksenglish.wordpress.com.... Check it out!
Gertrude & Victoria
Apr 07, 2009 Gertrude & Victoria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese-library
Patriotism is said to be Mishima's favorite story; there is little doubt it is one of his greatest - sublime in all its nuances, and compelling in its vision of finality. It is a fascinating look into the world of death and eroticism - a rare work of beauty, seduction, and sensuality. How does Mishima create a scene that overwhelms the soul, enslaves the imagination, and draws out - almost beguiles - the perverse desire for the death act?

He writes with sweeping power in a style so subtle, yet so
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D.e. Varni
Sep 25, 2012 D.e. Varni rated it it was amazing
Probably the most sensual short story ever written. Although I do not feel it is necessary to have a sexually repressed adolescent read it, I was glad to have discovered Mishima at such a young age. The tale is gripping and pulls the strings of loyalty, honor and tough decisions that follow such stringent moralities, giving insight to ancient Japanese custom and culture as it reverberated down through the generations toward today's confusion in the cross between modernity and tradition. I highly ...more
Tanuj Solanki
Feb 19, 2014 Tanuj Solanki rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book, japan
Mishima O Mishima!

How is your writing to survive our world increasingly devoid of the notion of honor? Does your soul seethe, or does it merely regret your doings? How are we to give any value to this double suicide? It is better that we don't talk about you.
Gene
Jun 03, 2008 Gene rated it it was amazing
Not a book your girlfirend should read, unless they like seppiku..
Kim
Sep 18, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: weaboos
This story makes me wonder if Mishima wasn't just some big jokester, and him committing seppuku was his final prank on the world. I think the biggest mistake people make in regards to Mishima is taking him way too seriously.

Who says that he has to kill his friends? He's not even sure if he's going to be ordered to kill them, or if he's going to be leading the unit. So why is he going to kill himself? It surely can't be out of patriotism--or at least our definition of patriotism: "love of one's
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Anushree Rastogi
Jun 07, 2013 Anushree Rastogi rated it really liked it
Yukio Mishima is not just your ordinary writer.

He's the badass who makes Hemmingway look like just another guy with a drinking problem.

He's the stunning, muscular guy who works out three times a day, a regimen that was not disrupted for the final 15 years of his life and appeared as a photo model in Young Samurai: Bodybuilders of Japan and Otoko: Photo Studies of the Young Japanese Male by Tamotsu Yatō; dressed in a loincloth and armed with a sword, posing in the snow.

He's also a movie actor.
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Robert
Aug 24, 2015 Robert rated it liked it
A masterclass in how to write ultranationalist sex scenes.

This short story is definitely very praiseworthy for succinctly describing Yukio Mishima's ultranationalist worldview through very well-written scenes. His worldview happens to be slightly terrifying, but, having already learned about his life life and death, his writing exactly fulfilled my expectations. Written in 1960, it makes the manner of his death ten years later very unsurprising. No spoilers!


"They had both sensed at that moment t
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Ryan
Aug 31, 2013 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lurid, blood-curdling "dissection" of suicide. The display of patriotism through suicide must be Mishima's master statement about the pursuit of art to its own end. It celebrates supreme vanity and it negates everything.

Don't buy this book. Buy Death in Midsummer and Other Stories where this short story is only one of several masterful stories.


Jonathon
Jan 22, 2014 Jonathon rated it really liked it
A love story. A bit overly romantic for me, but some nice passages from time to time. A bitter sweetness resemblant of a brutal Romeo and Juliet with, of course, feelings of patriotism, honor, and such intertwined (obvious from the title). Hemingway and Stephen Crane come to mind when reading this with its serious and journalistic writing. The idea of courage, honor, respect, manliness, etc. rings true through his writing while maintaining a literary lightness and floweriness infusion. Some beau ...more
Phil
Aug 18, 2007 Phil rated it it was amazing
This short story is breathtaking. I read it in college and I was brought to tears reading it on the subway.
rahul
Oct 02, 2014 rahul rated it it was amazing
Oh..Mishima.
Phillip
Jul 28, 2011 Phillip rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20th-century
To read this book as a Westerner coming from the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions is a really odd experience. The ritual of seppuku, and the honored place it has in Japanese tradition is almost incomprehensible on some fundamental level to someone raised with the Judeo-Christian conception that suicide is abhorrent. I say that, but I want to clarify what I mean. This novella (I suppose that would be its technical description) takes us into the mind of an Imperial Army Lieutenant and hi ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Apr 06, 2013 Dhanaraj Rajan rated it really liked it
Two questions: Why did I read? and Why did Mishima write this novella?

It is my first of Mishima. In fact I wanted to try out this before venturing into his other works. And now I am just stupefied. A novella that contains one of the powerful beginnings. The novella begins with a first chapter of just two pages in which the reader is already told of the tragedy. And then he narrates the events. The tragedy is always on every page and at the end when it really happens it is unbearable and you chok
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Christopher
Mar 07, 2015 Christopher rated it liked it
Patriotism is a 1966 novella by Japanese writer Yukio Mishima. Written after his embrace of traditional Japanese social values and four years before his own death by seppuku after a failed coup d'etat, the work concerns a soldier and his wife during a 1936 incident in which some imperial troops mutinied against the emperor. The soldier is dismayed to see his colleagues rise up against the forces of the emperor, and resolves that he and his wife shall kill themselves through seppuku in order to d ...more
lauren
Jun 07, 2010 lauren added it
Shelves: violencia
whoa. all i have to say is, whoa.

i watched that gus van sant film, finding forrester, recently and saw a book by yukio mishima on one of the character's bookshelves. i had no idea who he was or what he was about. flash forward a few days, and i see this novella on a spinner at left bank. after picking it up and reading it in half an hour, i must repeat myself: whoa.

prepare yourself to be both repulsed and amazed. one of those reads, for me, where i was quite offended by undertones of misogyny an
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Michael  Baggetta
Jan 16, 2013 Michael Baggetta rated it it was amazing
This book by Yukio Mishima is one the most intense books I have ever read! A short book yes,only 57 pages, but not short on it message! The writer tells us about a Japanese way of life , one of a loyal devoted soldier to his nation with such a devotion that not many people could ever relate to! The author tells about am army officer of the Imperial troops of Japan during the 1930's and his wife and blends Patriotism, death and ecstasy with such a unique rigor and passion as never before!I would ...more
Poe Wilson
Jun 16, 2015 Poe Wilson rated it really liked it
Real rating: 8/10
Mishima Yukio's (Hiraoka Kimitake) views quite often overshadow his work. In patriotism one outside of the Japanese culture might struggle to feel the connection between patriotism and what shall unfold during the pages of this novella. The beautifully elegant depiction of what Mishima would call one's moral duty is utterly captivating. Though most assuredly this is an idealised depiction of suicide, one cannot help but be captivated by it, as the reality of Mishima's own death
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Tosh
Nov 13, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing
This is the short story that eventually defined the Mishima mystique. Which is the manner how he died and why. Well, the why we'll never know, but one could pick up the clues that are in this short story as well as look as his life in whole. He was a man who I think thought himself as a performer. The writing was his foundation to do other things - and I think he was so into that identity thing, he would never have ignored his 'death' impulses. It's part of his DNA at that point.
Jenha
Dec 13, 2015 Jenha rated it really liked it
Portrayal of suicide in this novel may seem shocking to western readers, but it reflects many fenomens of japanese society. First of all, main character must somehow solve moral dilemma of betraying the emperor or going against his friends and eventually killing them. He chooses to kill himself which allows him to keep his honour. And honour is traditionally one of the most important values in japanese society. Thus killing yourself in this kind of situation is in Japan seen as an honourable act ...more
Morgan
Dec 10, 2015 Morgan rated it it was amazing
I read this story awhile ago, but finding the essay I wrote about "Patriotism" in college reminded me how much I loved this story. I loved it because the images and the words hunt me today still. Yukio Mishima had such a poetic life you'd think people know more about him. In some ways, he's like Virginia Woolf. Both focused on the beauty of things, both had a hard time with their sexuality, and both ended up killing themselves.

I usually separate the author form what he or she wrote, but with Wol
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Ioana
Jul 28, 2014 Ioana added it
Shelves: fiction, japanese-lit
I'm usually pretty opinionated but I'm at a loss for how to rate this book. It's basically a very disturbing, graphic, lived-experience description of a general and his wife committing seppuku because of mutiny within the group under the general's command... There's actually very little detail about *why* he decides to take this course, this novella is more a lived moment-by-moment account of how he (and his wife) commit this act.

An attempt at a rating:
I absolutely do not understand or identify
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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
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“Reiko had not kept a diary and was now denied the pleasure of assiduously rereading her record of the happiness of the past few months and consigning each page to the fire as she did so.

- Death in Midsummer and Other Stories”
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“At his leisure, the lieutenant allowed the unforgettable spectacle to engrave itself upon his mind. With one hand he fondled the hair, with the other he softly stroked the magnificent face, implanting kisses here and there where his eyes lingered. The quiet coldness of the high, tapering forehead, the closed eyes with their long lashes beneath faintly etched brows, the set of the finely shaped nose, the gleam of teeth glimpsed between full, regular lips, the soft cheeks and the small, wise chin…

Wherever the lieutenant's eyes moved his lips faithfully followed. The high, swelling breasts, surmounted by nipples like the buds of a wild cherry, hardened as the lieutenant's lips closed about them. The arms flowed smoothly downward from each side of the breast, tapering toward the wrists, yet losing nothing of their roundness or symmetry…The natural hollow curving between the bosom and the stomach carried in its lines a suggestion not only of softness but of resilient strength, and while it gave forewarning to the rich curves spreading outward from here to the hips it had, in itself, an appearance only of restraint and proper discipline. The whiteness and richness of the stomach and hips was like milk brimming in a great bowl, and the sharply shadowed dip of the navel could have been the fresh impress of a raindrop, fallen there that very moment. Where the shadows gathered more thickly, hair clustered, gentle and sensitive, and as the agitation mounted in the now no longer passive body there hung over this region a scent like the smoldering of fragrant blossoms, growing steadily more pervasive…

Passionately they held their faces close, rubbing cheek against cheek…Their breasts, moist with sweat, were tightly joined, and every inch of the young and beautiful bodies had become so much one with the other that it seemed impossible there should ever again be a separation…From the heights they plunged into the abyss, and from the abyss they took wing and soared once more to dizzying heights…As one cycle ended, almost immediately a new wave of passion would be generated, and together -with no trace of fatigue- they would climb again in a single breathless movement to the very summit.”
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