Friday, March 04, 2011


By Yukio Mishima

One of Yukio Mishima's most notorious novels. In some ways Mishima's eccentric life and bizarre end overshadow his work. While a strict adherence to the concept of the "Death of the Author" would militate against any biographical interpretation of Sailor, it's hard not see some of Mishima's fictional themes played out in his life.
The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea is about a single mother in love with a sailor and her adolescent son, Noboru, who is obsessed with his image of the sailor as a model of masculinity. When the sailor can’t live up to that loony ideal, Noboru undertakes to destroy his idol. 

It's not just a tale of right-wing hysteria wrapped up in homoeroticism, though those are all plenty good fun. Rather I find that a mediation on the interplay of idealism, desire, and the image of one's ideals is not out of place in the 21st century. 

-Dave Hardy



Tim Mayer said...

The movie version managed to transfer the whole story to New England. It did give the male lead one of his more memorable roles (snicker).
I prefer Mishima's final tetraolgy (Runaway Horses, Decay of the Angel, etc.) as a meditation on the history of modern Japan and it's clash with the ancient.

Dave Hardy said...

Whoever put it in New England should have their butt whupped by a squad of Right-wing Japanese paramilitaries dressed in leather outfits. It could be coursework at Northwestern.

I have to admit I've only read a bit of Mishima. Confessions of a Mask is his other book I've read. I suppose that's a failing as I've only seen the more sensationalistic side of his work. I would like to see the gangster movie he did.

Tim Mayer said...

It's OK. He's only on for a few minutes and hams it up. Did you see the biographical movie?

Tim Mayer said...

And the original title of "Sailor" in Japanese is "Towing in the morning", towing in Japanese being a word play on "glory". Since it didn't translate well into English, his American translator came up with the sensationalist title and Mishma liked it.

Dave Hardy said...

I saw the biopic about 18 years ago. Fascinating stuff. In many respects Yukio Mishima was Yukio Mishima's greatest character.