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(GO) The Sailor Who Fell from... > Pre-Reading "The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea"

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message 1: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3618 comments From an initial glance at Wikipedia's summary of The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, a part of that novel's storyline is the sailor Ryuji and the woman Fusako's romance, which upsets her adolescent son Noboru's equanimity. His gang takes revenge.


message 2: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3618 comments Yukio Mishima was a post-WW2 novelist. This particular novel is considered his greatest fictional work, one of the greatest novels of the last century, and a work in which the characters' motivations and perceptions are significant to the plot, that is a work of psychological realism.

Set in Yokohama, Japan, in the 1950s, it is the coming-of-age story of an elite, intelligent, young adolescent. He is involved with other schoolboys like himself. They practice different means to root out their sentimental feelings by activities which promote objective dispassion but which are cruel. Noboru is the third-ranked leader of the gang. At home he spies into his mother's bedroom; he later instigates the sailor Ryuji's death.

A wealthy entrepreneur of an exclusive men's shop, Noboru's mother agrees to marry the sailor, whose personality eventually disgusts Noboru. Ryuji proves to be easygoing and agreeable in interactions with Noboru's mother and Noboru himself, traits Noboru considers as an affront to an "universal order" of things. The story's perspective alternates between Noboru and Ryuji.


message 3: by Betty (last edited Sep 24, 2012 11:23PM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3618 comments In The Madness and Perversion of Yukio Mishima, I singled out Chapter 7, 'Voyeurism and Rage in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea', to read regarding our next featured book, Mishima's The Sailor... The description of "The Madness..." sounds a bit raunchy, imo, but it's some insight into Mishima's novel.

Mishima's The Sailor... considerably differs from his Spring Snow, which doesn't have a chapter to itself in "The Madness...". I'm in the middle of Spring Snow. It is also filled with psychological machinations by the protagonist; yet, its story leaves me with the impression of springtime cherry blossoms, of snowy rickshaw rides, and of adolescent innocence during the Meiji-Taishō eras before WW1. In contrast to Spring Snow, The Sailor... portrays malevolence and vengefulness by Noboru and his friends.

According to "The Madness...", Mishima's childhood treatment by his grandmother and his forced separation from his mother let out their "rage" in The Sailor... Having been childishly locked into his room for the night and having been separated from the world, thirteen-year-old Noboru voyeuristically peeps through a hole into his mother's room. When she and the muscular sailor share intimacy, Noboru is impressed with the the sailor's apparent dominance and is identifying with that power instead of with his helpless "imprisonment" in his own room. There's much more going on inside the son Noboru's mind; Jerry S. Piven tries to make a convincing, logical explanation of it.


message 4: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 19 comments The Japanese title of the book is Gogo no Eikou. This is written as 午後の曳航 (Towing a Ship in the Afternoon) but is a homophone for 午後の栄光 (Glory in the Afternoon). When John Nathan translated the novel, he couldn't think of a way to render the pun into English, so he asked Mishima for alternate titles. Mishima replied that he'd always liked ridiculously long titles and told Nathan to come up with one, which is how we end up with The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea in English.


message 5: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3618 comments The translator John Nathan came up with an interesting title in which the sea is personified. In a down-to-earth sense, the sailor fell out of grace on land with the boy Noboru. I look forward to reading the story to find out more details.


message 6: by Mikki (last edited Sep 25, 2012 07:06PM) (new)

Mikki | 89 comments "This particular novel is considered his greatest fictional work, one of the greatest novels of the last century..."

I wasn't aware of this. My book arrived yesterday so I'll be starting to read at the beginning of the week.


message 7: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3618 comments Hi, Mikki, I too am looking towards a reading and discussion of this "greatest" novel!


message 8: by lanalang (new)

lanalang | 8 comments Hi, I'm italian and I joined this beautiful group last month. I'm going to read this novel with you all, next week, in the italian edition. And...the italian title is 'Il sapore della gloria' that in english would be 'The taste of glory'


message 9: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3618 comments Hi, lanalang,
Great to know that you'll be a participant in reading The Sailor... We 'll have to discover the meaning of the title :)


message 10: by Betty (last edited Sep 29, 2012 08:25PM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3618 comments Sean and lanalang mention the 'glory' in the title, a concept which goes along with Pevin's chapter 7 The Madness and Perversion of Yukio Mishima, mentioned above in message 3. That glory is the myth of idealized, heroic manhood, which isn't susceptible or doesn't succumb to neediness, relationships, domesticity, or emotional intimacy and which isn't on a par with purely physical womanhood without the intellect to understand the hero's soul. Mythical glory is found in the seaman's solitary, rugged life, the sea being his counterpart. To use one of Pevin's examples, the seaman dominates the ocean with the prowess of his vessel as if the sea were a woman. The sea unfortunately does not return his love, the problem Ryuji recognizes in taking note of Fusako's exceptional femaleness and his own preference for humanness rather than singular, glorious destiny. To Fusako's son Noboru, however, Ryuji's falling from that apex of untouchability into regular life requires redemption. Why Noboru's disturbed over Ryuji's changed demeanor has to do with the psychological bearings of Mishima.

The cadre of youths represent Mishima's psychological mindset and his philosophy of "tragic beauty". Their "intentional" perverseness echoes Mishima's early helplessness and later rage, the effect of his childhood's weakness and powerlessness before a dominating grandmother and a derogatory father who didn't accept his creativity. There is no love of fathers in this novel even if the story's fathers haven't done anything wrong. With the murders of the cat and Ryuji, Mishima portrays his philosophy of "tragic beauty", i.e. murder rather than old age as the cause of death. The murderers act out their fantasy of domination, cruelty, and powerfulness, victimizing the stray and the sailor and burying their emotional neediness of which admission would be too shameful.


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