Monday, 12 September 2016

Book Review : Patriotism by Yukio Mishima


Title : Patriotism
Author : Yukio Mishima
Rating : 5/5

Patriotism is such an aesthetically satisfying short story. This is definitely one of the most beautiful short stories I have ever read. It glorifies the ritual suicide ( Seppuku ) of Liutenant Shinji Takeyama and his wife Reiko as he finds himself torn between his loyalty to his unit and his loyalty to the emperor. The young couple share a last night of sexual intimacy before carrying out their suicide act. Knowing that Mishima commited suicide in  this manner, it is clear that this book is about his preoccupations with honour. He performed his own coup attempt in 1970 and then when it failed he performed the ritual of Seppuku.

I can definitely see why people are attracted to Mishima's writing style. Mishima's phrose in this translation was so beautiful that I felt totally drawn. He succeeded in exalting sex and death. The way he described the passion between the liutenant and his wife as they say goodbyes to every inch of each other's body was so wonderfully lyrical. The description of the Seppuku was so graphic and visceral.

" The lieutenant's naked skin glowed like a field of barley, and everywhere the muscles sowed in sharp relief, converging on the lower abdomen about the small, unassuming navel. Gazing at the youthful, firm stomach, modestly covered by a vigorous growth of hair, Reiko thought of it as it was soon to be, cruelly cut by the sword, and she laid her head upon it, sobbing in pity, and bathed it with kisses. " 

" Savoring the warmth glowing within themselves, they lay still and recalled the ecstacies they had just known. Each moment of the experience was relived. They remember the taste of kisses which never wearied, the touch of naked flesh, episode after episode of dizzying bliss. But already, from the dark boards of the ceiling, the face of death was peering down. These joys had been final, and their bodies would never know them again. "

The interactions and emotions between the two characters were intense. I adored and loved the relationship between the couple and the devotion they felt to each other. The long scene of the Lieutanant's suicide war was very remarkable and it gave an insight into how strongly the Japanese feel about honour and their country. This short story is definetely a special piece of art and I highly recommend it to those who are intrested in military history and ritual suicide. This is possibly one of the most romantic book I have ever read. Really worth my time! 

If you enjoyed the book, be sure to watch the short movie directed by Mishima itself.