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Sun And Steel [Paperback]

Yukio Mishima
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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May 16 2003

Sun And Steel is a Kodansha International publication.


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"One of the twentieth century's outstanding statements of literary and personal purpose." -Library Journal


"Necessary reading." -Times Literary Supplement


"Had we [read this before his suicide], the extravagant events surrounding his death would have been more readily comprehensible." -Sunday Times


"A key to the novelist's behavior." -Sunday Telegraph


About the Author

Yukio Mishima is a Kodansha International author.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Of late, I have come to sense within myself an accumulation of all kinds of things that cannot find adequate expression via an objective artistic form such as the novel. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of the Samurai June 17 2006
Format:Paperback
Since World War II, the West has forgotten the Shadow soul of Japan, the collective impulses that have been repressed by "Occupation Law" and the imposition of democracy. The Japanese are seen stereotypically as being overly polite and smiling business executives and camera snapping tourists. The emphasis has been on the soft counterpart of the Japanese psyche, on the "chrysanthemum" (the arts) as Mishima puts it, and the repression of the "word" (the martial tradition). The great American anthropologist Ruth Benedict wrote of the duality of the Japanese using this symbolism in her "Chrysanthemum and the Sword," to which Mishima referred approvingly. He insisted that Japan return to a balance of the arts and the martial tradition, to what, we would call individuation (rebirth/renaissance), allowing the repressed Shadow archetype to reassert itself.

Mishima was himself that synthesis of the scholar and the warrior, who rejected pure intellectualism and theory in favour of action.

[...]
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By Patrick
Format:Paperback
Every author should write at least one of these books of personal reflection. This is not the only place you can get a glimpse of the inner workings of Mishima's mind ("Confessions of a Mask" and "Patriotism" are good examples).
Of course, this is assuming the book accurately reflects the author's views. If you have read Mishima biographies such as Stokes' "Life and Death of Yukio Mishima" you might agree that "Sun and Steel" is a true reflection of the author's feelings. Otherwise, you might not have a good frame of reference.
It's a good idea not to make this the first of Mishima's works that you read (the aforementioned biography and "Confessions of A Mask" are suitable prerequisites). However, it is an interesting work in its own right.
My main reason for not giving this book 5 stars is that I was longing for more depth into his character than could be provided in so short a work; but maybe that's just because of my fascination with the author's life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic Heroism Aug. 10 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
In Sun and Steel, Yukio Mishima, one of Japan's most important writers, offers an intimate look at how he reconciled his life with the creative process.
From the outset, it is clear that Mishima advocated an "active" creativity and that he held in contempt those who used words to convey experiences yet denied their own heroic capabilities.
For Mishima, art, action and creativity had to embrace the tragic. To be a hero meant sacrifice of the highest order and suffering life's strangest and most difficult problems. "He who dabbles in words can create tragedy, wrote Mishima, "but cannot participate in it."
Mishima begins Sun and Steel by telling us that, for much of his life, he held an unnatural view of the world, due to the fact that his awareness of words preceded his awareness of his body. This isolated him, he says, and he spent much time at his bedroom window simply watching the world go by.
"Words," says Mishima, "are a medium that reduces the world to an abstraction...and in their power to corrode reality inevitably lurks the danger that the words will be corroded, too."
Mishima explains how he attempted to overcome this "corrosive function of words" with physical discipline of the body. Because his early years were suffused with words, as an adult, he seeks balance in life with a preoccupation with the physical. His body, he says, came to be a metaphor of the human condition and allowed him to directly experience the tragic in life.
Life, says, Mishima, can be intellectualized, but the only thing that imposes dignity on life is the element of mortality that lies within. Here we have the key to both Mishima's writing and his own life and death.
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