Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 1003421 times)

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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10440 on: January 21, 2021, 02:03:48 PM »
I don't know musical influences on him. Literary influences on Mishima include Nietzsche, Cocteau, Oscar Wilde, Marquis de Sade, Kawabata, Akutagawa, etc.

Weird thing is that Mishima wrote a few comedies, and they are hilarious and hysterically funny.

I was looking at one at Barnes & Noble the other day, called Life For Sale, which looked pretty hilarious, quite the contrast from the über-seriousness of Sailor. Oddly it was the only Mishima they had. Maybe what I'm picking up on is the Nietzschean influence; I don't know, I haven't read any Nietzsche since high school. I ought to do something about that. As for Kawabata, I recently bought his Snow Country (on your recommendation) and look forward to reading it too. Of the three Japanese writers I've read recently, Mishima is the first one whose work strikes me as a wholly Japanese phenomenon, and I kind of hope to find something similar in Kawabata, even if his work itself seems quite different. There's another Japanese writer I'd love to read, one of these days: Jun'ichiro Tanizaki. But I've got plenty on my plate for now... Very grateful to be discovering so much excellent literary fiction these days.

Edit: Finished The Sailor. What an ending. That was definitely one of the more fucked up books I've ever read, but my interest is definitely piqued and I will be reading more Mishima.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 05:53:58 PM by vers la flamme »

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10441 on: January 22, 2021, 09:11:23 AM »
Oddly it was the only Mishima they had.

This is hilarious. I hope it is a deliberate humor by the BN manager. Life For Sale is an entertaining, if absurd, story by Mishima. It should be a fun read. Mishima jokingly called it a “psychedelic adventure novel,” with his characteristic self-caricature. Interestingly, it was written just 2 years before his “death.”

In contrast to Mishima’s flamboyant writing style, Kawabata’s writing is simple and minimalistic.  If Mishima’s writing is Baroque architecture, Kawabata’s writing is a single-story wooden house.  But both the authors emphasize aesthetics/glory over the mundanity/compromise in life. As for Tanizaki, his works present unique eroticism/aestheticism. Also, I Am a Cat by Natsume is deservedly popular in the West. The House Keeper and the Professor, a recent publication by Ogawa, is popular as well.

As for other works by Mishima in English translation, it seems to me that “Five Modern Noh Plays” is a superb (and less disturbing) book.

Offline milk

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10442 on: January 22, 2021, 04:41:57 PM »
Very fair. How about his ability of overall composition, depiction, literary expression and creating and contrasting characters? Do you have negative opinion about them?

Any opinion on Endo's Silence?
I’d have to go back and reread. I’m guessing Mishma was a genius in those areas. And I’d agree about not confusing the writer with what’s written. On the other hand, the narcissism and alienation of post-war writing has worn off for me. I think it’s particularly captivating in youth. I’m guessing it might not do enough for me now but I’d have to give it a fair shot. Writer’s like Endo seem more adult in the grappling with big moral questions in the aftermath of imperial Japan. In Mishima and Dazai, there might be the quality of a Celine, some echo of fascism in this rejection of the present over the past? Sentimentalism, narcissism, oily muscles and fascination with hypocrisy and purity can slide into fascism and brutality?
Maybe I’m also affected by listening to Dan Carlin’s podcast on the war. And living in Japan, I can see how hard it is to get out of the narrow view because Japan has that total-izing effect on modern Japanese. And youth-culture seems to reduce everything to banality. I can still imagine militarism filling in the gap of that poorly-developed sense of self and meaningful values. Just my two cents.
Re: Endo: I had a good impression of Silence. It’d be worth it for me to reread that as well. I think Endo was a real thinker.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2021, 04:43:50 PM by milk »

Offline milk

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10443 on: January 22, 2021, 04:50:54 PM »
This is hilarious. I hope it is a deliberate humor by the BN manager. Life For Sale is an entertaining, if absurd, story by Mishima. It should be a fun read. Mishima jokingly called it a “psychedelic adventure novel,” with his characteristic self-caricature. Interestingly, it was written just 2 years before his “death.”

In contrast to Mishima’s flamboyant writing style, Kawabata’s writing is simple and minimalistic.  If Mishima’s writing is Baroque architecture, Kawabata’s writing is a single-story wooden house.  But both the authors emphasize aesthetics/glory over the mundanity/compromise in life. As for Tanizaki, his works present unique eroticism/aestheticism. Also, I Am a Cat by Natsume is deservedly popular in the West. The House Keeper and the Professor, a recent publication by Ogawa, is popular as well.

As for other works by Mishima in English translation, it seems to me that “Five Modern Noh Plays” is a superb (and less disturbing) book.
I read all of Mishima’s novels when I was a youth and enjoyed them except for the trilogy he wrote. Tanizaki wrote a book that reminded me of Lolita. Again, I’m not sure what to think of it now. Soseki had a book called “The Three-Cornered World,” which I remember really enjoying.
Kawabata won the Nobel. So did Oe. I’m not sure Oe deserved it but he’s still alive. Kawabata is said to be great in the original language. I only read translations and they are beautiful, if memory serves. But also, if my memory is correct, following that sense of cold detachment and alienation which disgusts me now. But Maybe I’d have a different impression upon rereading. I knew a guy, British, who lectured and wrote quite a bit about this group. I used to run into him in Osaka from time to time. He was a real champion of this ilk.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10444 on: January 23, 2021, 08:30:28 AM »
I’d have to go back and reread. I’m guessing Mishma was a genius in those areas. And I’d agree about not confusing the writer with what’s written. On the other hand, the narcissism and alienation of post-war writing has worn off for me. I think it’s particularly captivating in youth. I’m guessing it might not do enough for me now but I’d have to give it a fair shot. Writer’s like Endo seem more adult in the grappling with big moral questions in the aftermath of imperial Japan. In Mishima and Dazai, there might be the quality of a Celine, some echo of fascism in this rejection of the present over the past? Sentimentalism, narcissism, oily muscles and fascination with hypocrisy and purity can slide into fascism and brutality?
Maybe I’m also affected by listening to Dan Carlin’s podcast on the war. And living in Japan, I can see how hard it is to get out of the narrow view because Japan has that total-izing effect on modern Japanese. And youth-culture seems to reduce everything to banality. I can still imagine militarism filling in the gap of that poorly-developed sense of self and meaningful values. Just my two cents.
Re: Endo: I had a good impression of Silence. It’d be worth it for me to reread that as well. I think Endo was a real thinker.


Thank you for the comment. I like Mishima as a romantic aesthete, but Just as most readers, I don’t like his philosophy or political ideology.  Mishima found the post-ww2 Japanese society excessively Americanized, ugly, and disagreeable (How would you feel if Americans start wearing Chinese cloth and using Chinese letters and Chinese military/soldiers station in the land ?).   I find his ultra nationalistic view anachronistic, and somewhat comical. But I don’t see his political ideology in his literal works much. In the realm of literary works, I assume, Mishima is largely a romantic (or hardcore) aesthete while Endo is a moralist writer.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10445 on: January 23, 2021, 08:33:27 AM »
Le Ble en Herbe (Green Wheat), Colette. An inevitable transformation of the relationship between teenage boy and girl in one summer at a coastal village in Northern France.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10446 on: January 23, 2021, 04:09:32 PM »

Thank you for the comment. I like Mishima as a romantic aesthete, but Just as most readers, I don’t like his philosophy or political ideology.  Mishima found the post-ww2 Japanese society excessively Americanized, ugly, and disagreeable (How would you feel if Americans start wearing Chinese cloth and using Chinese letters and Chinese military/soldiers station in the land ?).   I find his ultra nationalistic view anachronistic, and somewhat comical. But I don’t see his political ideology in his literal works much. In the realm of literary works, I assume, Mishima is largely a romantic (or hardcore) aesthete while Endo is a moralist writer.

In The Sailor, I didn't find much in the way of political ideology, but the writer of this very opinionated wikipedia article seems to think the whole thing is a metaphor for the American occupation of Japan...:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sailor_Who_Fell_from_Grace_with_the_Sea

Someone needs to edit this article and make it less opinionated...

I just started Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men yesterday and I'm about 2/3 of the way through. It's a very easy read, lots of dialogue.

Offline MN Dave

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10447 on: January 24, 2021, 09:42:57 AM »
philosophy, ghost stories, and sf.
“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10448 on: January 24, 2021, 10:05:38 AM »
I just started Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men yesterday and I'm about 2/3 of the way through. It's a very easy read, lots of dialogue.

Finished. Not sure what to read next... more Mishima, more McCarthy, or perhaps something totally different. Stay tuned...  :laugh:

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10449 on: January 25, 2021, 03:39:59 AM »
Finished. Not sure what to read next... more Mishima, more McCarthy, or perhaps something totally different. Stay tuned...  :laugh:

Went with the latter option, John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. It's really good so far. I'm about halfway through.


Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10450 on: January 25, 2021, 07:37:35 AM »
In The Sailor, I didn't find much in the way of political ideology, but the writer of this very opinionated wikipedia article seems to think the whole thing is a metaphor for the American occupation of Japan...:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sailor_Who_Fell_from_Grace_with_the_Sea

Someone needs to edit this article and make it less opinionated...

I just started Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men yesterday and I'm about 2/3 of the way through. It's a very easy read, lots of dialogue.

Yes the article is a big stretch. The writer and the written are mixed up.

Rereading Boccaccio.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2021, 07:41:22 AM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10451 on: January 27, 2021, 02:56:33 AM »
Finished the Steinbeck which was an awesome little book. Now for more McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses. So far so good. This must be his most accessible novel, if not the ultra-spare No Country for Old Men which has the caveat of being more violent.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10452 on: January 28, 2021, 09:49:14 AM »
Tale of Genji, authored by Lady Purple (Murasaki). The work is widely considered to be the world’s first novel, authored by the lady in waiting at the Japanese imperial court in the 11th century. The story is about numerous love affairs of a son of emperor, which is partly fictional and partly factual. Fun read.

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10453 on: January 29, 2021, 01:56:41 PM »
Mozart by Jan Swafford


Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10454 on: January 29, 2021, 03:34:46 PM »
McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses.

Damn, I am really enjoying this book. Not at all what I was expecting after the other McCarthy I've read. I reckon this won't be my last time reading it.

Offline Benji

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10455 on: January 29, 2021, 04:21:17 PM »
Ive read The Road some years back, and that really did a number on me. McCarthy really gets under the skin and if you're like me and occasionally prone to be mildly misanthropic, that book will be fuel for the fire!

Now, having experienced that you might think I'd find a more optimistic read, but no. The second McCarthy book I picked up to read was Blood Meridian... Wow. Now, that is a real blood-curdling, soul-draining read. It stayed with me for weeks. McCarthy is a genius - I love the way he writes, it is so easy to read and so rich, but often so chillingly photographic when it comes to the violence. I have a few other books of his on my shelf but haven't had the energy to tackle them since Blood Meridian ... And that was five years ago. Anyway, I highly recommend it in case that wasn't clear. 😎

My recent reading is Ted Chiang's collection of short stories 'Exhalation'. He's another writer who writes so wonderfully eloquently and in a very readable way. Very impressive given the high concept sci-fi of these stories. Half way through and every story has been a treasure so far.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10456 on: January 29, 2021, 05:23:20 PM »
Ive read The Road some years back, and that really did a number on me. McCarthy really gets under the skin and if you're like me and occasionally prone to be mildly misanthropic, that book will be fuel for the fire!

Now, having experienced that you might think I'd find a more optimistic read, but no. The second McCarthy book I picked up to read was Blood Meridian... Wow. Now, that is a real blood-curdling, soul-draining read. It stayed with me for weeks. McCarthy is a genius - I love the way he writes, it is so easy to read and so rich, but often so chillingly photographic when it comes to the violence. I have a few other books of his on my shelf but haven't had the energy to tackle them since Blood Meridian ... And that was five years ago. Anyway, I highly recommend it in case that wasn't clear. 😎

My recent reading is Ted Chiang's collection of short stories 'Exhalation'. He's another writer who writes so wonderfully eloquently and in a very readable way. Very impressive given the high concept sci-fi of these stories. Half way through and every story has been a treasure so far.

I read about half of Blood Meridian in high school, not long after I read The Road, which I loved at the time. Can't remember why I ever put it down. Anyway, I might be reading that next.

Offline Benji

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10457 on: January 29, 2021, 06:02:33 PM »
I read about half of Blood Meridian in high school, not long after I read The Road, which I loved at the time. Can't remember why I ever put it down. Anyway, I might be reading that next.

Probably because of nervous exhaustion! 😄

Offline DavidW

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10458 on: January 30, 2021, 08:59:03 AM »
Middlemarch.


Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10459 on: January 31, 2021, 05:29:34 AM »
I read about half of Blood Meridian in high school, not long after I read The Road, which I loved at the time. Can't remember why I ever put it down. Anyway, I might be reading that next.

Actually reading Child of God next. So far, so good. An incredibly fucked up book, about brutality, nature, and man's inhumanity to man, as far as I can tell. But I'm only about a third of the way in.