Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Sailor Who Fell Out of Grace with the Sea-Yukio Mishima

The Sailor Who Fell Out of Grace with the Sea-Yukio Mishima

the facts
pages: 130
gender: M
nationality: Japan
year: 1963
Novel(la) in translation

I've read Mishima before. His stories are not full of much delight but rather are twisted tales of the darker sides of people. He was popular in his time as a writer though so I suppose he in some ways reflects a post war Japan exploring boundaries and taboos. 

This novella is definitely twisted and dark as it centers around a rather perverted thirteen-year-old boy who is a bit too much in love with his mother. Thankfully no actual incestuous sex happens but consider yourself warned because this boy's corruption goes further. It all functions as a camera obscura upturning of ideas and the contrast between opposites and it's key to Mishima's densely subtle style. He divides the book into summer and winter, obsession and alienation, and numerous other stylistic devices contribute to this feeling of splitness.

This is a misanthropist and nihilist novel that pushes most events to their worst outcome. It's full of alien attitudes and so is definitely worth reading for that alone. Then there's the fact that in barely 130 pages this is such a strong and full read because between the horrible parts, there's the love story of a sailor and a widow which puts the whole thing into perspective. Give it a read because it's a tightly written book. It's poetic and beautiful without being poetic and beautiful at all mainly because some passages don't click while others resonate while nothing detracts from the whole.

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