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Sun and Steel

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,417 ratings  ·  107 reviews
In this fascinating document, one of Japan's best known-and controversial-writers created what might be termed a new literary form. It is new because it combines elements of many existing types of writing, yet in the end fits into none of them.

At one level, it may be read as an account of how a puny, bookish boy discovered the importance of his own physical being; the "sun
Paperback, Paper Dust Jacket, 108 pages
Published April 11th 2003 by Kodansha International (first published 1968)
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,417 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
a peek inside the head of the finest japanese writer of the 20th century- hint: he is fucking nuts.
Slap Happy
Dec 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There is a canon of authors who are Metal.

H.P. Lovecraft is one of 'em. Tolkein, another. (To name but a couple.)

I would include Mishima in that almighty canon. Mishima was that kid growing up, but instead of being born in a place and time where Metal existed, he was born and raised in 20's Japan. Same impulse, though.

Mishima would be from one of the more ecstatic genres of extreme Metal. He'd be Black Metal.
2.5 stars.

A tough read, which I may try again once I’ve read a little more of his work. The main thing I’ll take away from it, for now, is that it doesn’t pay to neglect the body in favour of the mind, or to lose oneself to introspection, forgetting the importance of sensory experience and looking outward.

Yukio Mishima lived during a transformative time for the identity of Japan, and here we have a document of his own personal quest for purpose. It’s also, as others have stated, quite mad.
4.5 with the .5 being for "the blue sky was flecked with the semen-white of clouds"
Mishima at his densest, finest, weirdest, most metaphysical. He wrote this just before doing his Big Thing, and this does, really, feel like a manifesto of the sort popular among suicide bombers, Christian millenarians, militia leaders in the American Far West, and 4chan regulars turned school shooters. That last bit is especially noteworthy. If Mishima was alive today, giving his predilection for samurai ideology and whatnot, I can see his teenage self posting edgelord memes had he been alive t ...more
Gertrude & Victoria
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese-library
Yukio Mishima, in his enigmatic work Sun and Steel, reveals his inner most contemplations of life, death, and beyond. This work, the elucidations of a literary genius and modern day samurai, is not easy to comprehend, especially if one has not read some of his previous novels, short stories, or plays. He uses the motif of the sun and steel as metaphors to represent enlightenment and body in a particularly personal way. This writing, by throwing light into the recesses of his mind and soul, helps ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
100 pages of uninterrupted, dense, metaphysical introspection about the relationship between words, abstractions, symbols, and the body. Completely humorless, Mishima is a nerdy writer that discovered fitness later in his life, compares airplanes to penises and clouds to sperm, and is absorbed by the concept of death, especially the "tragic" death that—in his opinion—can only be achieved by individuals with a chiseled hot bod. Insane and magnificent. I highlighted many passages but also had a ha ...more
Elliot Lake
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I feel kind of odd feeling somewhat of a sympathy for the thoughts he has had. Granted, I wouldn't take it quite as far as Yukio does, with his nigh deification of death. Although I have somewhat of an appreciation of Zen Buddhism, I don't go that far. Also, the whole metaphor with the Jet Plane and clouds made me laugh, although that was clearly not Yukio's intent.

However, I find his distinction between word and action, as white ants upon a tree. I am like him in that words came to me first, I
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"To continue the metaphor, let us picture a single, healthy apple. This apple was not called into existence by words, nor is it possible that the core should be completely visible from the outside like Amiel’s peculiar fruit. The inside of the apple is naturally quite invisible. Thus at the heart of that apple, shut up within the flesh of the fruit, the core lurks in its wan darkness, tremblingly anxious to find some way to reassure itself that it is a perfect apple. The apple certainly exists, ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brief look into the thoughts of Mishima with a dominant theme being his pursuit of merging both mind and body into one via art and physical action. Mishima distinctly believed that the body should and does reflect one's mental standing.
This book is essential reading if you want to understand Mishima and his eventual act of harakiri, as death and beauty is also often reflected upon throughout Sun & Steel.

'If my self was my dwelling, then my body resembled an orchard that surrounded it. I co
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Will definitely read this again!

“Was I ignorant, then, when I was seventeen? I think not. I knew everything. A quarter-century's experience of life since then has added nothing to what I knew. The one difference is that at seventeen I had no 'realism'.”

Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read, japan
Wooaaaahhhhh! The power of words and the strength of the body, beauty, philosophy, budō, death, tragedy, and madness - love it. Free insight, though: Stay away from ideology, kids, it can distort the sight and numb the senses of even the best and bravest minds.
Jan 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: japan
I really struggled to finish this book. I found it far too abstract and metaphysical for my liking. The only thing that I got out of this book was the fascinating glimpse that it gave of the mind of Yukio Mishima. It also has the virtue of being brief.
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anyone wanting to understand the philosophy and death of Mishima will want to read this book.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
There is some brilliance in this but he lost me a few times in here too.

3.5 out of 5 stars.
Pliyo San
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-novels, novels
Esta novela corta más bien parece un diario sincero donde descubrir las motivaciones de Mishima.

Vemos aquí su búsqueda de la unidad cuerpo y mente, su insistencia en encontrar el equilibrio por imposible que parezca, así como su forma de acercarse a la felicidad o a la idea de belleza.

Para mí ha sido una dosis de reflexiones brutal, una novela que bien parece un tratado filosófico influido por las artes marciales. Me siento tan identificado con sus palabras, y me inspira tanto su forma de enten
Alor Deng
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese, profound
I have yet to come across a book that has distilled so much immensity in so few words. This is a peek inside my favorite authors mind- and what a mind it is. The principles of his prose, which one can detect through his novels, is fully expounded upon in this marvelous non-fiction work. Thank you Mishima.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Erect-angled, the F104, a sharp silver phallus, pointed
into the sky. Solitary, spermatozoon-like, I was installed
within. Soon, I should know how the spermatozoon felt
at the instant of ejaculation."

what the fuck mishima
Talbot Hook
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
"My ideal style would have had the grave beauty of polished wood in the entrance hall of a samurai mansion on a winter's day." Talk about a writer's voice!

There is wisdom in this piece, and beauty, but also madness. Mishima's encounters with truth and tragedy, wit and action, are subtle and singular, and can take a while to penetrate; the essay is equal parts Western aestheticism, Bushido, militant disciplinarianism, Zen Buddhism, literary analysis, and a strict philosophy on both life and death
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Ho sempre considerato estremamente ripugnanti sia i ventri prominenti, segno di pigrizia spirituale, sia i toraci scheletrici con le costole sporgenti, sintomo di un eccessivo sviluppo dello spirito, e non potevo non stupirmi nel constatare che alcuni amavano queste caratteristiche fisiche. Mi pareva un atteggiamento indecentemente sfacciato, un esporre sul proprio corpo le vergogne dello spirito."

"I fasci di muscoli, ormai quasi superflui nella vita contemporanea, sono ancora elementi vitali n
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An intricate balancing act against the fates, Mishima rushes full-force to conquer the impossible through introspection, observation, muscle stimulation, and ideology. A long love letter to the conscience spirit-body we've abandoned in favor of lazy, inept, quiet mental (dis)satisfaction, Mishima's words, actions, and experiences continue to challenge us to live life at the edges like the brazen warriors we were meant to be. His convictions continually beat against the chambers of our untold hea ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
He's never going to get over that he wasn't the biggest, most popular boy in middle school, is he? But then, who does?

I enjoyed the epilogue much more than the rest. I loved the Mishima / semen bit:
"Erect-angled, the F104, a sharp silver phallus, pointed into the sky. Solitary, spermatozoon-like, I was installed within. Soon, I should know how the spermatozoon felt at the instant of ejaculation."
Joel Robert Ferguson
If you only read a single queer, fascist manifesto about body-building this year, make sure it's this one!
Matthew Borowka
My favorite book reviewer fervently recommended Yukio Mishima’s Sun and Steel. Naturally, I printed out the PDF and began reading right away. I was surprised, since Sun and Steel is not so much a book; it’s a flowery stream of consciousness essay that, every so often, pricks you with thorns of wisdom. This essay meditates on Mishima’s experiences and attitudes toward bodybuilding, literature, and death.

As to be expected, Mishima writes with a virile, poetic prose. He touches upon some interesti
Mishima is such an enigma. He's so arrogant sometimes. Sometimes he's mighty and brazen. Sometimes he's smart, other times he's the ultimate try-harder. This is a little autobiographical text that focuses on Mishima's pondering of art & action. It is not a well-organized, academic text. Its often rambling (to the point of incoherence), there is no real linear timeline even if this is autobiographical, and when Mishima makes conclusions or assertions - the way they land on the page makes them ...more
Daniel Polansky
Literature, not to say life, offers no shortage of brilliant people dithering around in the most incoherent or radically destructive directions, but even still, you would be hard to find a more perfect encapsulation of genius put to the most startling stupid ends than Mishima’s grand self-statement. Individual lines are beautifully written, certain thoughts are articulated with heart-aching grandeur, taken in sum its worship of unthinking physical force, that is to say violence, in a nation then ...more
Patrick McCoy
Sun and Steel a nonfiction work by Yukio Mishima is a difficult work to categorize. I was compelled to read it in connection with research I am doing related to Paul Schrader’s film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Schrader used excerpts from the long essay (manifesto?) that is a mediation on the fusing of life and art. I think it provides a lot of insight into the mind and philosophy of Mishima at the end of his life when he was obsessed with body building, training with his private army, and ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ángel by: Edmee Pardo
Mishima fue un provocador y, a la vez, un hombre distinto a su tiempo. Al abordar la lectura de este libro, no debe olvidarse que estamos frente a un ensayo, lo que implica entender las ideas que se proponen y, en su caso, estar de acuerdo o no. En ese contexto, la idea de separación del cuerpo me parece un tanto descabellada y quizá superada. Lo que está claro es que Mishima fue un hombre de acción y palabra: vivió y murió como él lo deseó.

El sol y el acero es un libro iluminador, pero también
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, giappone
Il corpo come traduzione dello spirito

Fu ossessionante il modo in cui Mishima cercò di tradurre l’animo e la mente in un corpo esteriore, puramente fisico.
Al crescere della consapevolezza forgiò il corpo fino al raggiungimento dell’equilibrio cercato, esso divenne traduzione fisica dello spirito.

"Ho sempre considerato estremamente ripugnanti sia i ventri prominenti, segno di pigrizia spirituale, sia i toraci scheletrici con le costole sporgenti, sintomo di un eccessivo sviluppo dello spirito […]
Luke Bongers
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yes some well needed introspection of a romantic fanatic for me. Lucky im not too impressionable.

Filled with rippling muscles, sunkissed skin, metaphysics and glorifications of suicide I so enjoyed this book that I read it over 2 afternoons.

I'll admit i havent yet read his other works so im looking forward to that.

Thanks for the recommendation, pewds (pleases subscribe to him <3)
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Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) was born in Tokyo in 1925. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s School of Jurisprudence in 1947. His first published book, The Forest in Full Bloom, appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask (1949). From then until his death he continued to publish novels, short stories, and plays each year. His crowning achievement, th ...more
“Do I, then, belong to the heavens?
Why, if not so, should the heavens
Fix me thus with their ceaseless blue stare,
Luring me on, and my mind, higher
Ever higher, up into the sky,
Drawing me ceaselessly up
To heights far, far above the human?
Why, when balance has been strictly studied
And flight calculated with the best of reason
Till no aberrant element should, by rights, remain-
Why, still, should the lust for ascension
Seem, in itself, so close to madness?
Nothing is that can satify me;
Earthly novelty is too soon dulled;
I am drawn higher and higher, more unstable,
Closer and closer to the sun's effulgence.
Why do these rays of reason destroy me?
Villages below and meandering streams
Grow tolerable as our distance grows.
Why do they plead, approve, lure me
With promise that I may love the human
If only it is seen, thus, from afar-
Although the goal could never have been love,
Nor, had it been, could I ever have
Belonged to the heavens?
I have not envied the bird its freedom
Nor have I longed for the ease of Nature,
Driven by naught save this strange yearning
For the higher, and the closer, to plunge myself
Into the deep sky's blue, so contrary
To all organic joys, so far
From pleasures of superiority
But higher, and higher,
Dazzled, perhaps, by the dizzy incandescence
Of waxen wings.

Or do I then
Belong, after all, to the earth?
Why, if not so, should the earth
Show such swiftness to encompass my fall?
Granting no space to think or feel,
Why did the soft, indolent earth thus
Greet me with the shock of steel plate?
Did the soft earth thus turn to steel
Only to show me my own softness?
That Nature might bring home to me
That to fall, not to fly, is in the order of things,
More natural by far than that improbable passion?
Is the blue of the sky then a dream?
Was it devised by the earth, to which I belonged,
On account of the fleeting, white-hot intoxication
Achieved for a moment by waxen wings?
And did the heavens abet the plan to punish me?
To punish me for not believing in myself
Or for believing too much;
Too earger to know where lay my allegiance
Or vainly assuming that already I knew all;
For wanting to fly off
To the unknown
Or the known:
Both of them a single, blue speck of an idea?”
“Was I ignorant, then, when I was seventeen? I think not. I knew everything. A quarter-century's experience of life since then has added nothing to what I knew. The one difference is that at seventeen I had no 'realism'.” 54 likes
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