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The Order of Discontent The War against Banality in Yukio Mishima’s “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea”

The Order of Discontent The War against Banality in Yukio Mishima’s “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea”

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This final paper was written as part of the requirements for CL 242 under Ms. Lily Rose Tope at the University of the Philippines SY 2012-2013.
This final paper was written as part of the requirements for CL 242 under Ms. Lily Rose Tope at the University of the Philippines SY 2012-2013.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Christopher Jan Benitez on Jul 19, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Christopher Jan BenitezCL242Ms. Lily Rose TopeJune 3, 2013The Order of Discontent:TheWaragainstBanality
in Yukio Mishima’s “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with theSea”
Considered as one of Japan’s most gifted writers, Yukio Mishima has be
come popularwith the darkness and depravity he conveys through his literature. In
The Sailor Who Fell fromGrace with the Sea
,Mishima weaves a blunt yet effective narrative about Ryuji, a man of thesea, who was drawn back to the land by Fusako to a lifeof convention, much to the dismay of 
 people who admire, especially Noboru, Fusako’s son.
Despite the title already suggesting the defeat of the male protagonist, the story is notabout the inevitable fall from grace. Rather, the story delves deep into themanner how Ryuji lefta life of freedom only to be encaged by marriage and the responsibilities attached with it.
In this tale of a man’s downward spiral, this paper aims to relate certain events in the
lifeof Mishima beforeandduring the writing of 
TheSailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
to the
characters in the book as representation of Mishima’s discontent with Japan.
In particular, thispaper will focus on the ideology espoused by Noboru and the gang as a counter-reaction to theuselessness of lives in the characters of the novel.Using these tropes, this paper will use the
image of “True Japan” as discussed by Kano Tsutomu in relation with the ordinariness of 
Japanese life in the novel that reinforces what the identity of Japan really is.
The True Mishima
To seeMishimabecome the author of Japanese literary classics, one must look back tohis formative years as a romantic, where his admiration to the decadence featured in Raymond
Radiguet and Oscar Wilde’s works laid the foundation of things to come. The latter’s play“Salomé” is one of Mishima’s favorite due to the portrayal of death (the passing away of ahandsome youth) and blood (St. John the Baptist’s decapitated head) as divine.Hints of this “beautiful decay” that fascinated Mishima in the
written text are shown inhis first published work 
 Hanazakari no Mori
in 1941 as installments in a literary magazine. Thefive-part series details the lives of ancestors of an aristocratic lineage in history. The beauty of the novel, as Zenmei Hasuda (a vehement nationalist and a schoolteacher friend of Shimizu)putsit, has something to do with the nostalgia of historical Japan as opposed to their current period.The language used in the work, brimming with memories that were absolved of the crudenessexhibited by current Japan, helped in getting his point across as a writer well above hiscontemporaries. More importantly, the maturity of the series can be seen through the pessimismof its characters (Stokes89).After the last installment of 
 Hanazakari noMori
, Japan was “forced to go to war,” as
Mishima puts it (Stokes90), when the American Fleet was attacked in Pearl Harbor by carrier-borne aircraft, which sparked the Pacific War. It was a period of time that historian and
Mishima’s friend Bunzo Hashika
wa believed explains why the author decided to commit suicideat his peak, again showing how Mishima views death as a beautiful thing.During this period, Mishima associated himself with a group of literary nationalists calledthe Bungei Bunka. The group was led by Zenmei Hasuda, a man 21 years the elder of Mishimawhom the latter truly respected. Hasuda was responsible in getting Mishima on board with the
Benitez3group to not only connect with like-minded people in the literary field, but also fed with thebelief 
that the war is holy. The elder also believe that, ‘[O]ne should die young in this age. To dieyoung, I am sure, is the culture of my country.” (
Stokes93) This statement was drawn from hisstudy of Otsu-no-Miko, a Japanese classic of a tragic prince in the seventh century. Thisstatement alone carries enough reason to believe that Mishima shares the same view with Hasudaabout death and destruction, that which is a part of Japan that makes it beautiful.
Mishima’s involvement with the Bungei Bunka led to th
e formation of the NipponRoman-
ha (Japanese Romanticists), which furthered their belief of the “Sacred” war. Led by
Yojiro Yasuda and his rhetorical gift, the group took the belief of holy war too far even forMishima. Said Jun Eto in one of his conversation with Henry Scott Stoker, author of The Lifeand Death of Yukio Mishima,They believed in the value of destruction and ultimately in self-destruction. They
valued ‘purity of sentiment,’ though they never defined this; and they called for ‘preservation of the nation’ by purging selfish party politicians and zaibatsu
[business] leaders. They believed that self-destruction would be followed byreincarnation, linked mysteriously with the benevolence of the Emperor. TheJapanese, they considered, were superior to all other peoples. (Stokes94)Nonetheless, Mishima was intrigued enough to collect Roman-ha works, in particular
Shizuo Ito’s, for the group. The works produced by the Nippon Roman
which drew fromthe 19
century Romantic movement, Marxism, andkokugaku (nationalism derived from thethoughts of 18
century thinker Norinaga Motoori)
had great influence during the war and wasencouraged by the Japanese leaders.

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