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The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 11 Mar 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (11 Mar. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099284790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099284796
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Mishima's greatest novel, and one of the greatest of the past century" (The Times)

"Explores the viciousness that lies beneath what we imagine to be innocence" (Independent)

"Told with Mishima's fierce attention to naturalistic detail, the grisly tale becomes painfully convincing and yields a richness of psychological and mythic truth" (Sunday Times)

"Coolly exact with his characters and their honourable motives. His aim is to make the destruction of the sailor by his love seem as inevitable as the ocean" (Guardian)

"Mishima's imagery is as artful as a Japanese flower arrangement" (New York Times)

Book Description

'A major work of art' Time

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Sometimes you comes across a book so beautifully written that it stands out from the rest in just the first few pages. This is one of those books. This is a simple story of a sailor (called Ryuji) who falls in love with a shop owner widower (Fusako) and who eventually get engaged to get married. The woman's son (Noburu) secretly watches the couple makes love and starts to hate the sailor for the softer side of his character that he sees, rather than the gruff adventurer hero he has built up in his mind. The son is also part of a gang that practises detached emotional responses to life and who inflict great cruelty on animals to test their detachment. Rather than being truly evil the son is more lead astray than anything else, but this leads the book to it's dark, yet compelling conclusion.

This is one of those books that is beautiful to read, with wonderful poetic descriptions, but it also has an element that leaves you feeling slightly disturbed as well. The early scenes between Ryuji and Fusako have an erotic feel to them, but at no point are they explicit or gratuitous. The sexual energy is explored through simple things like the parting of her mouth, the smell of her body or the eating of a cherry. All simple things, but when written as skilfully as this, very effective. Ryuji's fall from grace with Noboru is quite sad to read, especially as we are made aware of Ryuji's inner thoughts and intent that Noboru can't fathom. This makes the ending all the more chilling and powerful and I was worried how the author was going to deal with the ending, but he managed to finish this with huge impact and style and it is one that leaves you thinking about it long after you have placed the book back on your bookshelf.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Stewart on 8 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Yukio Mishima's 'The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea' is a short novel but, due to its tight plot, brevity is not an issue. Published in 1963, seven years before he committed ritual suicide, the novel explores motivation and the factors that can cause someone to abandon their passions and resume their life embracing the dreams of another.
Noboru Kuroda, a thirteen year old on the cusp of an adult world, is part of a savage gang whose members, despite their exemplary grades at school, have rebelled against the adult world they deem hypocritical. Under the tutelage of Noboru's friend, also thirteen, they condition themselves against sentimental feelings - a goal they call `objectivity' - by killing stray cats.
Ryuji Tsukazaki, a merchant seaman, has been granted two days' shore leave and has spent the time romancing Noboru's widowed mother, Fusako. Noboru likes the sailor at first, his commitment to the sea and all the manly stories he has to tell. But, as Ryuji falls for Fusako, Noboru feels betrayed by the man's burgeoning romanticism and, with the help of his gang, feels that action should be taken against the man who has replaced his father.
The first thing I noticed while reading this novel was that the characters are rich with life and history. Noboru, at thirteen, has strong feelings for his mother that manifest through voyeuristic sessions at night when, peeking into her room through a spy-hole, he watches her undress, entertain, and sleep. Ryuji, the sailor, knows he has some purpose at sea and continues his life off the land in the hope that one day he will learn his place in life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Mishima is the Prince of Ice, a man of cold emotional detachment paradoxically consumed with the minutiae of burning emotions. Remaining detached he could inhabit the skin, blood and bone of his characters. He projected himself away from the real world into the imaginary where he could inhabit himself.

Within this book each person tries to connect across an emotional wasteland. The metaphors abound, the Chief's empty silent house; a boy left to himself who hates his parents. Ryuji losing first his mother, then his house, thn his sister to typhus and then lastly his father. He hates the land because of what it represents sickness and death. His connection to the sea is his escape from memory. His burgeoning love brings him back to the land.

Fusako, his soul mate has lost her husband and is in a form of bereavement. Norburo has lost his father and dotes on his mother, with a fear of losing her. This cements the mother son bond.

Mishima understands the power of bereavement, the impact of loss and neglect as it arose within his family. He lost his sister to typhus and suffered a form of deep emotional neglect being kidnapped by his grandmother. The key points were his abilities to articulate grief and an emotional coldness caused by death, a deep sense of permafrost that gradually thaws through time or remains icebound and suspended.

The descriptions of lust, the juxtaposed position of the young Chinese sex worker and his burning desire for Fusako convey a suppressed erotica slowly uncoiling throughout the story.

Bodies and sweat are also perceived as real anchor points of human corporeality, the essence of existence as the descriptions of muscle sweat and musk, perfume the story.
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