Item description for Acts of Worship: Seven Stories (Japanese for Busy People) by Yukio Mishima & John Bester...
When Mishima committed ritual suicide in November 1970, he was only forty-five. He had written over thirty novels, eighteen plays, and twenty volumes of short stories. During his lifetime, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times and had seen almost all of his major novels appear in English. While the flamboyance of his life and the apparent fanaticism of his death have dominated the public's perception of his achievement, Japanese and Western critics alike are in agreement that his literary gifts were prodigious. Mishima is arguably at his best in the shorter forms, and it is the flower of these that appears here for the first time in English. Each story has its own distinctive atmosphere and each is brilliantly organized, yielding deeper layers of meaning with repeated readings. The psychological observation, particularly in what it reveals of the turmoil of adolescence, is meticulous. The style, with its skillful blending of colors and surfaces, shows Mishima in top form, and no further proof is needed to remind us that he was a consummate writer whose work is an irreplaceable part of world literature.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.25" Weight: 0.65 lbs.
Release Date Sep 13, 2002
Publisher Kodansha International
ISBN 4770028938 ISBN13 9784770028938
Availability 0 units.
More About Yukio Mishima & John Bester
Yukio Mishima was born in Tokyo in 1925. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University's School of Jurisprudence in 1947. His first published book, The Forest in Full Bloom, appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask (1949). From then until his death he continued to publish novels, short stories, and plays each year. His crowning achievement, The Sea of Fertility tetralogy--which contains the novels Spring Snow (1969), Runaway Horses (1969), The Temple of Dawn (1970), and The Decay of the Angel (1971)--is considered one of the definitive works of twentieth century Japanese fiction. In 1970, at the age of 45 and the day after completing the last novel in the Fertility series, Mishima committed seppuku (ritual suicide)--a spectacular death that attracted worldwide attention.
Reviews - What do customers think about Acts of Worship: Seven Stories (Japanese for Busy People)?
Seven acts, worth seven times that praise Jan 10, 2008
When I first found Mishima, I wondered why I'd never heard of him before. I quickly fell in love with his style of writing tight, consistent, entertaining, and vexing novels. "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion" is one of my all time favorite novels, and with reading it I found Mishima to be my favorite author.
But I had never read a short story (or play) from him until I found this collection.
Now I feel even more strongly about Mishima, and even more solidly convinced that his detractors have no validity. These seven stories are all radically different; characters, time period, length--but they all hold something very poignant about them. Like the Professor recommending to his maid in "Act of Worship" the beautifully written prose of vast scenery and metaphoric imagery -- I too recommend this collection for those reasons.
"Fountains in the Rain" is a simple and short narrative between two lovers, with Mishima juxtaposing the female's tears' with the fountains they (the couple) stumble upon while in rain. Wonderful layering here, but this is the one "throw-away" story (if you could even call it that). The following, "Raisin Bread", is where the stories take an almost psychologically horrific turn; the subject matter is dark from here on out, but Mishima wields this territory like a blade.
"Sword" is next, one of this collection's two largest stories (the other one being the self-titled) concerning, yes, a kendo/swordplay training school. Characters are introduced quickly and tension is held high as we see guilt and honor flowing together until the final line reveals the story's conclusion. You can feel the sweat on the students' faces and can nearly see the golden hue of the dojo floor.
"Sea and Sunset" takes a very different story (which is itself told inside of another story) about a French farm hand sold into slavery, landing in a Buddhist shrine in Japan. The two items in the title seem to suggest a waning of life for the protagonist. Wonderful little story.
Now, the two most brilliant pieces come next. They express, alone, why I think Mishima is head and shoulders above most any Japanese literature -- and also why his detractors (who claim he falls from being able to create the metaphysical dreamscapes of Haruki Murakami) should reconsider his worth.
"Cigarette" is a personal diatribe from an adolescent that would otherwise be boring if not for being so acutely written. In a few pages, I felt that Mishima and I had had the same childhood. He crossed into territory that many do (think the typical "teen experience" movie) but the end result is something entirely believable and fascinating. The grinding of adolescence on culture; feeling the need to "fit in"; feeling unwelcomed anywhere -- Mishima captures it all with clarity that I have never seen anywhere else. I'll be re-reading this one many times.
When I first started "Martyrdom", I didn't expect it to hold much. Demon King? I wondered. But by the end, I was shocked. This piece holds such poetry and metaphor in every line, and crosses paths between Christian mythology and Japanese idealism. The tortured protagonist (making the last story's main character to look brave in comparison) and his story are probably predictable with the story's title, but there is more than expected, and when I finished this story I could only be reminded of what Murakami had said of Mishima, and I wondered if he had had a chance to read this! It truly moved me like not many of his novels have.
Mishima changed the landscape of Japanese literature. He wrote 40 novels, 18 plays and 20 volumes worth of short stories. He also, unlike many of his influences, was able to see many of them translated into English and made popular among his current generation (also a rare thing among Japanese authors).
His untimely death is what people most remember about him. Let them, then. In my own life, I'll only remember that he changed the way I felt about everything.
A Mixed Collection of Writing Aug 2, 2004
Contrary to what the translator claims in the introduction, based on this collection of short stories, Mishima Yukio's work as a novelist far exceeds in quality that of the short story writer. While some stories are quite good - "Acts of Worship," "Cigarette," and "Sword" come to mind - and demonstrate not only the thought but also the large amounts of research Mishima put into his writing, others only evince lukewarm sentiments or insights into the author's aesthetic tastes. While this in itself is certainly not enough to merit a "low rating," these same sentiments are more effectively conveyed in his novels. Another complaint is that these stories are presented largely in an ahistorical way. That is, there is little reference to when Mishima wrote them, what he was experiencing at the time, and what the situation of Japan was like, socioeconomically. Understanding these concepts is crucial to understanding Mishima's motives and writing.
Bespeak the author's rigid mentality Nov 15, 2002
Acts Of Worship: Seven Stories is an anthology of short stories by the internationally famous Japanese author Yukio Mishima, who is perhaps most notorious for his dramatic ritual suicide in 1970. Flawlessly translated into English by John Bester, the short stories include: Fountains in the Rain; Raisin Bread; Sword; Sea and Sunset; Cigarette; Martyrdom; and the title piece, Act of Worship, and bespeak the rigid mentality of one born and rigorously raised in the traditions of the samurai caste, long after the era of the samurai. Written with biting insight, sharp ruthlessness and a keen eye for just how much (or how little) human life is worth, Acts Of Worship documents Yukio Mishima as having been an undeniably strong and articulate voice in Japan's modern literary tradition.
Colorful. Jun 11, 1998
This a great collection to get a sense of Mishima's imaginative spectrum of characters and themes. Death and the adolescent psyche are common themes.