The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1965. First American Edition. Hardcover. 181 pages ; 20 cm. $3.95 dust jacket. A very good copy with firm binding, clean and unmarked pages.
At forty, Yukio Mishima has been called "a writer of the first rank" (Anthony West), "the youthful peer of Gide and Genet" (Lincoln Kirstein), "one of the outstanding young writers of the world" (Donald Keene), and one of "the top writers not only of Japan but of the world" (Chicago Tribune). In this taut new novel he evokes, with uncanny insight, the all-too-real world of a band of savage thirteen-year-olds, who reject the adult world as illusory, sentimental, and hypocritical, and shows how they become its secret adversaries.
The boys, all from well-to-do families, train themselves in callousness, which they call "objectivity." The narrative unfolds primarily from the point of view of Noboru, whose attractive, spirited widowed mother runs an exclusive specialty shop in Yokohama. When she begins an affair with Ryuji, a ship's officer, Noboru watches them in her bedroom through a peephole, for "objective" reasons.
At first, the boys consider the sailor an exceptional adult and idealize his toughness; but soon they guess that he is really a soft, romantic dreamer. This, by their standards, is betrayal, and they react with violence. Mishima's portraits of the woman and the sailor are compelling; the reader is drawn to them more and more as the harrowing, dramatic ending nears.
The author of The Sound of Waves and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion achieves a new degree of universality in this tense, classically constructed novel.
Born in Tokyo in 1925, YUKIO MISHIMA is the leader of Japan's postwar generation of novelists, and his international reputation is still growing. He has already published thirteen novels, translations of which have appeared in fifteen countries; thirty-three plays, of which his modern No plays have been successfully performed on three continents; seventy-four short stories; a travel book; and countless articles, two in English for Life and Holiday.
About ten films have been made from his novels. The Sound of Waves (1956) was filmed twice, and one of Ishikawa's masterpieces, En/o, was based on The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1959). After the Banquet (1963) and Five Modern No Plays (1957) have also appeared in English.
His novels have won the Shinchosha Literary Prize in 1954, the Yomiuri Literary Prize in 1957, and the Mainichi Art Prize in 1965, and two prizes have been awarded to his plays.
Despite his relentless work schedule, he has traveled widely in the United States and Europe. His home is in Tokyo, with his wife and two children.
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