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Mishima's Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend

Overview

On November 25, 1970, the world renowned Japanese writer Yukio Mishima committed seppuku with his own antique sword. Mishima’s spectacular suicide has been called many things: a hankering for heroism; a beautiful, perverse drama; a political protest against Japan’s emasculated postwar constitution; the epitaph of a mad genius. Part travelogue, part biography, and part philosophical treatise, Mishima’s Sword is the story of Christopher Ross’s journey to find a sword and maybe an understanding of Mishima’s country....

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Overview

On November 25, 1970, the world renowned Japanese writer Yukio Mishima committed seppuku with his own antique sword. Mishima’s spectacular suicide has been called many things: a hankering for heroism; a beautiful, perverse drama; a political protest against Japan’s emasculated postwar constitution; the epitaph of a mad genius. Part travelogue, part biography, and part philosophical treatise, Mishima’s Sword is the story of Christopher Ross’s journey to find a sword and maybe an understanding of Mishima’s country. The cold trail the author follows inspires a tale of the most engaging-and occasionally bizarre-sort, with glimpses of the real Japan that is not seen by tourists, with digressions on, among other things, bushido and socks, mutineers and Noh ghosts, nosebleeds and metallurgy-and even how to dress for suicide.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ross (Tunnel Visions) pursues the life and especially the violent suicide by seppuku, or hara-kiri, of the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, at age 45 in 1970. An English journalist who studied martial arts and later worked in Japan and learned Japanese, Ross was intrigued by overlaps in Mishima's life and his own, in terms of wondering how to make one's life more worthwhile and productive, and one's death "magnificent." Mishima's novels harked back to the heroism of samurai warriors of early eras, and during his life he assiduously mastered the code of the knightly class and conditioned his body in ritual sword fighting. In fact, Ross learns that the famous sword Mishima used on himself in Tokyo's Eastern Army Group Headquarters was made by Seki no Magoroku in the 16th century, and has subsequently vanished. In between a visceral blow-by-blow account of Mishima's last hours, Ross alternates his detailed, gently meandering narrative with fascinating research into the art of Japanese sword making. Ross's journey is wonderfully elucidating, not only of the writer who wanted to ensure he lived forever but of a holistic history and culture of Japan. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306815683
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,383,333
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Ross lives in Paris. His first book, Tunnel Visions: Journeys of an Underground Philosopher, was a bestseller in the United Kingdom.

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