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午後の曳航 (The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea)

Author: 三島由紀夫 (Mishima Yukio)

Summary

Japanese from amazon.co.jp

船乗り竜二の逞しい肉体と精神に憧れていた登は、母と竜二の抱擁を垣間見て愕然とする。矮小な世間とは無縁であった海の男が結婚を考え、陸の生活に馴染んでゆくとは……。それは登にとって赦しがたい屈辱であり、敵意にみちた現実からの挑戦であった。登は仲間とともに「自分達の未来の姿」を死刑に処すことで大人の世界に反撃する――。少年の透徹した観念の眼がえぐる傑作。

English from Wikipedia

Much of the story is told following the actions of Noboru Kuroda, an adolescent boy living in Yokohama, Japan. He and his group of friends are good students but they are secretly a gang. They believe in conventional morality and are led by their schoolmate, the “chief”. Noboru discovers in his chest of drawers a secret peephole into his widowed mother’s bedroom and uses it to spy on her. Since Noboru has a keen interest in ships, his upper-class mother Fusako, who owns Rex, a European-style haute fashion clothing store, takes him to visit one near the end of the summer. There they meet Ryuji Tsukazaki, a sailor and second mate aboard the commercial steamer Rakuyo who has vague notions of a special honor awaiting him at sea. Ryuji has always remained distant from the land, but he has no real ties with the sea or other sailors. Ryuji and Fusako develop a romantic relationship…

Length: 208 pages
Category: hard&slow

Availability

amazon.co.jp
ebook not available.

Personal Opinion

I once read a book review (which I can’t find any more) and it sounded quite interesting. Also, the author is a very interesting figure (quote from Wikipedia):

Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威, Hiraoka Kimitake, January 14, 1925 – November 25, 1970), known also under the pen name Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫, Mishima Yukio), was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model, film director, nationalist, and founder of the Tatenokai. Mishima is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. He was considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968.
Mishima’s personal life was controversial, which makes him still a contested figure today. Ideologically a right-wing nationalist who opposed the westernisation of Japan, Mishima formed the Tatenokai, an unarmed civilian militia, for the avowed purpose of restoring power to the Japanese Emperor. On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four members of his militia entered a military base in central Tokyo, took the commandant hostage, and attempted to inspire the Japan Self-Defense Forces to overturn Japan’s 1947 Constitution. When this was unsuccessful, Mishima committed seppuku.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Renowned author
  • Not too long
  • Wikipedia features a long interpretation, so we can double-check our own theories :slight_smile:

Cons

  • According to Wikipedia, Mishima’s work is characterized by “its luxurious vocabulary and decadent metaphors, its fusion of traditional Japanese and modern Western literary styles, and its obsessive assertions of the unity of beauty, eroticism and death”. That sounds somewhat hard to digest.

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One


Additional Pages


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