The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

  • by Yukio Mishima
  • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • 4 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A band of savage 13-year-old boys reject the adult world as illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental, and train themselves in a brutal callousness they call 'objectivity'. When the mother of one of them begins an affair with a ship's officer, he and his friends idealise the man at first; but it is not long before they conclude that he is in fact soft and romantic. They regard this disallusionment as an act of betrayal on his part - and the retribution is deliberate and horrifying.

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What the Critics Say

"Mishima's greatest novel, and one of the greatest of the past century." (The Times)
"Coolly exact with his characters and their honourable motives. His aim is to make the destruction of the sailor by his love seem as inevitable as the ocean." (Guardian)
"Told with Mishima's fierce attention to naturalistic detail, the grisly tale becomes painfully convincing and yields a richness of psychological and mythic truth." (Sunday Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Tragedy of Both Worlds

I have wandered through two long audiobooks, Dickens' "Bleak House" and Pynchon's "Against the Day", the latter in which I became lost so irretrievably that I needed a rescue team to get me out - I have no intentions to return in the foreseeable future, despite "Mason & Dixon" occupying the top spot in my books as my favourite piece of literature.

In short, I needed a change, preferably something modest in length. A Japanese friend of mine, a teacher of Japanese literature, recommended Mishima, and to my joy there are a few audiobooks available here on Audible.

I started with "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea", and I was thoroughly impressed. Not only is there some utterly beautiful language, which also means that the English translation is commendable, but the sheer energy of the narrative is superb. Sure, this is a dark place to descend to, but Mishima really knows how to take us there: despite the short length of the novel, he takes his time, sets up the pieces, and not only alludes to a violent climax, he makes it the obvious outcome by the time of the ruby heart in the boys' hands. Yet still, when we get to the inevitable, he is able to transcend mere brutality, angst and anarchism. It's a masterful ending to a masterfully narrated story, and I hope I'm not spoiling too much by pointing out how wonderful it really is.

The book is a modern tale of alienation, and, as the Chief states towards the end, "the world is empty." I think Mishima is able to describe that emptiness evocatively enough to make it plausible, but also do the nigh-impossible, that is, not severe his ties with the other world, which in the novel is the world of the adults, and parents. And because of the fluidity of his writing, it feels like he's guiding us on a boat through the river, whence we can see both shores, and the tragedy of both worlds.

Next, I'm going to listen to the sound of waves.
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- Antti

Nasty...

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who like dark, grubby little books with episodes of animal cruelty. And newspaper critics.


You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Some of the language is quite good.


Any additional comments?

A nasty little book about nasty little boys being nasty. I tolerated the boy spying on his mother's naked body and then on her having sex. I put up with the pretentious, unrealistic conversation the boys have amongst themselves about the existential emptiness of life. But I abandoned it at the point when they were just about to kill a kitten for fun. Not for me.

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- FictionFan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 22-12-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios