Yukio Mishima's "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea" explores the vicious nature of youth that is sometimes mistaken for innocence.
Thirteen-year-old Noboru is a member of a gang of highly philosophical teenage boys who reject the tenets of the adult world -- to them, adult life is illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental. When Noboru's widowed mother is romanced by Ryuji, a sailor, Noboru is thrilled. He idolizes this rugged man of the sea as a hero. But his admiration soon turns to hatred, as Ryuji forsakes life onboard the ship for marriage, rejecting everything Noboru holds sacred. Upset and appalled, he and his friends respond to this apparent betrayal with a terrible ferocity.
About the Author
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was many people. The best known in Japan of the writers to emerge there after World War II, he was by far the most published abroad. Mishima completed his first novel the year he entered the University of Tokyo. More followed (some twenty-three, the last completed the day of his death in November, 1970), along with more than forty play, over ninety short stories, several poetry and travel volumes and hundreds of essays. Influenced by European literature, in which he was exceptionally well read, he was an interpreter to his own people of Japan's ancient virtues, to which he urged a return. He had sung on the stage, starred in and directed movies and was a noted practitioner of Japan's traditional martial arts. He seemed at the height of his career and vitality at the age of forty-five, when after a demonstration in the public interest he committed suicide by ceremonial seppuku.
Nathan is the Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of California. He is also an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker.
“Brilliant in the conciseness of its narrative.”
“A major work of art.”
“Mishima is like Stendhal in his precise psychological analyses, like Dostoevsky in his explorations of darkly destructive personalities.”
—Christian Science Monitor