17 December 2009

Yukio Mishima, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, 1963

Thirteen year-old Noboru spies on his widowed mother Fusako with her new lover Ryuji, a rugged sailor on shore leave in Yokohama. Without a father he’s become dispassionate and dysfunctional, part of a sinister group of schoolboys who can’t find meaning in anything and who eventually draw up their own plans for Ryuji, based on the sadistic treatment they’d previously dished out to a harmless kitten. It’s Noboru’s misanthropic world view in one so young that makes this a definitively perverse book, one that exhibits an almost tangible disrespect for those who show no strength, as when Ryuji finally exchanges his rigorous life at sea for a soft life on land and therefore must suffer the consequences. This broadly echoes Mishima’s own tough and exacting expectations of other people, and his ambivalent sexuality finds a quiet voice here too though it doesn’t detract from what is otherwise a well-plotted, lightly atmospheric and economically told story.  PY


1 comment:

Web said...

Thanks for a wonderful look at this classic tale. You reminded me how much I loved it! Check out more great book reviews at topromancenovels.com