• The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

  • By: Yukio Mishima
  • Narrated by: Brian Nishii
  • Length: 4 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (377 ratings)

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The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

By: Yukio Mishima
Narrated by: Brian Nishii
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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.

©1965 Copyright 1965 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright renewed 1993 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Originally published in Japanese as Gogo No Eiko by Kodansha in 1963. (P)2010 Audible, Inc

Critic Reviews

"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)

Featured Article: 10 Famous Japanese Authors You Have to Hear


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What listeners say about The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unsettling writing, flawed reading

I can only agree with a previous reviewer. The novel itself is very moving and exquisitely done. It has a fluid, effortless flow, and at the same time is unrelentingly brutal (and really not for the faint of heart). In some aspects it reminded me of "The Lord of the Flies", of "Crime and Punishment" and Sartre's "The Nausea". In one of the strongest scenes in the book, a group of boys kill and "dissect" a stray kitten in order to train themselves in "perfect lack of feeling" -- I had a very hard time listening to this. But the most striking thing is the seeming ease with which the writing shifts between points of view, between past and present, between events and reminiscences. It could have been an outstanding audiobook.

But unfortunately it isn't, and that is due to the reader. It's a shame, because Brian Nishii reads very clearly and pronounces all the Japanese names correctly. But for some reason he almost always seems to emphasize the wrong part of the sentence. It's as if he reads every sentence separately, with no notion of context. In the end, it was possible to follow and enjoy the writing, but I had to overcome the flaws in the narration to do that. And that's the exact opposite of what an audiobook narrator should do.

Bottom line: recommended, but proceed with caution.

24 people found this helpful

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Good Book

PewDiePie recemended this book through a video he uploaded a while ago, So I bought the book and and go ahead and got the audio book to make it easier on myself to read it. The voice is good and all the words are pronounced correctly (even the names which are Japanese).

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16 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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And....I'm done with Mishima

This is not a bad book. If you're new to Mishima, or you're a die hard fan of Mishima's style, this book will be great for you. This is my 3rd Mishima novel, and the third that follows an outsider who feels empty and misplaced, a sadistic sidekick, and a slow story that ends with a premeditated act of violence. It was interesting the first time. Less the second. Even less so this time.

4 people found this helpful

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Even the killing of a kitten is brute poetry

This is not for the tender hearted. Yukio Mishima's prose is brilliant but Brian Nishii is a master at drawing the characters, especially the sociopathic Chief.

2 people found this helpful

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Don't make this your first Mishima Novel

Although the novel is relatively short, the style and detailed poetic descriptions of EVERY SINGLE MOMENT, feels less inspiring and more like a chore to get through.

I think I'm at fault for undertaking this one not knowing of the poetic and slow paced structure of the novel.

The general plot is simple to the point of being boring up until the last few chapters, it is worth the wait if you're mindful of this

There is something great here and I need to revisit this sometime in the future after maybe reading some of his other work.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent reading

This is the third Mishima work read by Brian Nishii that I've listened to now. He has really grown on me. His subdued style works well and does not become intrusive. As a student of Japanese, I appreciate that he actually knows how to pronounce

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful writing, very troubling story.

What did you love best about The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea?

I enjoyed Mishima's prose. He is a master.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Hearing about post-war Japan.

What about Brian Nishii’s performance did you like?

He reads with real authenticity. Doesn't trip over Japanese names or words.

If you could rename The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, what would you call it?

Birth of a serial killer.

1 person found this helpful

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Glory.

Mishima's works are so beautifully written, you don't even notice the plot. A plot that could be written in ten pages is caught amongst a surging atmosphere so intricately described. Mishima's stories are often fairly elementary, but it doesn't even matter. It's like an angsty teen was given the ability to write better than anyone else.

1 person found this helpful

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Not Much To It

One wonders why this is even remembered, let alone revered in any way. It covers similar ground to Lord of the Flies, but is less well written and visually memorable. Maybe something's lost in the translation (it's definitely lost in the bland reading), but it was just ... eh ... so what. Years and years ago I saw the film version (with the setting and characters relocated to the UK rather than Japan). That wasn't that interesting either but it was more interesting than this. Easy pass on this one. I didn't feel transported into their world ever. It was plodding and pedestrian without much in the way of thought provoking ideas or memorable situations or imagery or mood.

1 person found this helpful

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Mishima's craftsmanship as a writer is fantastic

Mishima's writing is so expertly precise that it could be compared to the craftsmanship of a master watch maker. Mishima leads us like clock work to the ultimate unfolding of his story but fooling us on the way with poetic and literary meanderings. Like no other writer, he pulls us inside the characters' heads and their thinking. Like no other writer, he manages to elevate the banal and the routine of daily lives into more complex perspectives. It's a beautifully written book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • FictionFan
  • 05-30-17

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Antti
  • 10-23-14

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-04-18

Food for thought.

Interesting development and delivers a surreal experience overall, worth my time! Will be interesting to find more novels from this author, I enjoyed every second.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anders
  • 01-04-15

magnificent!

wonderfully exciting all senses. love Mishima. waiting for forgotten colours to come audio. make it happen!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • beautysleep
  • 06-21-20

damn poetic piece of art

it is one damn poetic piece of art, will be rereading it again soon .

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Benjamin Aaron Carl Hill
  • 05-29-19

Great Book.

I highly recommend this book and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan
  • 04-13-11

Scary, japanese

Hypnotic, scary. The language is beautiful, the story sharply defined, the message unnerving. Probably worth a reread or two

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • AmazonCustomer
  • 06-27-21

Avoid

A book about repulsive characters and animal cruelty. Could not finish because of a nauseating scene.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • FENARETI
  • 06-22-21

Not for me

This book is not something I would ever enjoy but it is so well written and the ending is so powerful that I will remember it forever.

It’s a brilliant work of literature and I wish I was mature enough to be able to appreciate its dark elements more.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • BRUCE WAITE
  • 04-11-21

A well written book, but the story disappointed.

Mishima writes beautifully, the story is powerful. The characters interesting enough. But why only four stars? The ending - it fell short for me. That may not be the case for everybody so don't be put off. Listen to the story and make up your own mind. I can't say precisely what bothered me - it would give the game away.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-20-21

Great book! Reasonable "voice acting"

I read this book before listening. I love Mishima's compelling story telling, but the voices of some of the characters don't fit well, especially the voices of the kids in the gang. But that didn't take too much away from the plot to make it unenjoyable - I would recommend if you like Mishima or similar authors (such as Murakami)!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-02-19

great

amazing style of writing. it doesn't matter what this author writes about, although I enjoyed the story, it was the artform or this authors style that captivates me