- ペーパーバック: 107ページ
- 出版社: 講談社インターナショナル; 新装版 (2009/08)
- 言語: 英語
- ISBN-10: 4770029039
- ISBN-13: 978-4770029034
- 発売日： 2009/08
- 商品パッケージの寸法: 18.8 x 1.5 x 13.2 cm
- おすすめ度： この商品の最初のレビューを書き込んでください。
- Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: 本 - 2,288,202位 (本の売れ筋ランキングを見る)
英文版 太陽と鉄 - Sun and Steel (英語) ペーパーバック – 2009/8
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In this fascinating document, one of Japan's best known-and controversial-writers created what might be termed a new literary form. It is new because it combines elements of many existing types of writing, yet in the end fits into none of them.
At one level, it may be read as an account of how a puny, bookish boy discovered the importance of his own physical being; the "sun and steel" of the title are themselves symbols respectively of the cult of the open air and the weights used in bodybuilding. At another level, it is a discussion by a major novelist of the relation between action and art, and his own highly polished art in particular. More personally, it is an account of one individual's search for identity and self-integration. Or again, the work could be seen as a demonstration of how an intensely individual preoccupation can be developed into a profound philosophy of life.
All these elements are woven together by Mishima's complex yet polished and supple style. The confession and the self-analysis, the philosophy and the poetry combine in the end to create something that is in itself perfect and self-sufficient. It is a piece of literature that is as carefully fashioned as Mishima's novels, and at the same time provides an indispensable key to the understanding of them as art.
The road Mishima took to salvation is a highly personal one. Yet here, ultimately, one detects the unmistakable tones of a self transcending the particular and attaining to a poetic vision of the universal. The book is therefore a moving document, and is highly significant as a pointer to the future development of one of the most interesting novelists of modern times.
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He writes about the relation between world and word, body and mind or spirit. But to me, the most interesting aspect of this book, and Mishima's whole outlook is something that's often overlooked. It is this, he could not stand ugliness. He shrank from (his own perception of) ugliness as we would from a rabid rat. So then, how did he define beauty and ugliness? You may call it shallow but no matter, this book makes no apologies: beauty or ugliness lie in physical appearance, body and face.
To most of us there are many kinds of beauty, and maybe that multi-perception keeps us going - we see or imagine the beauty of inner virtue, selfless giving, artistic projection, humility or humor and so on. A wide expansive definition.
But there's room on your bookshelf for somebody who takes an uncompromising view: beauty is the beauty of your body and your appearance. While it can be crafted and guided by external method (who knows what Mishima would have thought of the cosmetic surgery craze now sweeping China), ultimately physical beauty to him is the only important projection of the soul.
The insanely monomaniacal American football coach Vince Lombardi once said "Winning isn't everything - it's the only thing". This book, despite all its meandering and subtle threads, is really saying just that, about beauty - it's the only thing. And Mishima, at mid-life, was losing all illusions about attaining or retaining any personal beauty.
Of course what sheds the interesting backlight on this book for most readers is Mishima's dramatic seppuku at Ichigaya Japan self-defense force headquarters. (Reminds me of the wit who stated, when informed of Sylvia Plath's suicide, "Good career move".) People read this book to try to unravel the mystery of it.
But in light of what I've said above, about beauty and Mishima's uniquely narrow definition of it, this book leaves no mystery to his action. Just as Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray slashed the ugliness accumulated on his horribly aging portrait, Mishima, lacking a magic painting, did just the same to his own body - sentenced it to death for the crimes of aging and ugliness.
It is entirely summed up by the following single line from 'Sun and Steel':
"I had already lost the morning face that belongs to youth alone."
Mishima wished to live a proper life, rather than the decadent urban life of the mind he chose early in life. The proper life for a man is that of the hero. Mishima knew that heroism involved having the body of a hero. This book is about his quest for physical perfection, and how it relates to a life of actions. You're probably not going to understand any of this unless you're a philosophical man who has pushed his body to the limits. If you're a smug cube monkey or a college professor, unless you lift weights and get into fights to test your mettle, you have about as much chance of understanding Mishima as I do of understanding the psychological and physiological intricacies of menstruation. Rejoice though, cube monkeys: even though this book will always remain opaque to you, the modern world is yours.
No, this isn't Mishima's best work. It is however, his most personal, and perhaps his most important work. No, he didn't kill himself because he was an aging fairy who wasn't pretty any more, like some numskull said in a review above. That's an object lesson in how one can read and comprehend the words, and not understand anything, because you haven't lived the same kind of life. You certainly don't need to read "confessions of a mask" to understand this book. You just need to be self reflective and have lived to physical extremes.
Who should read this? Weight lifters who like philosophy, anyone who fights for a living, people who Nietzsche was writing for, serious martial artists, political radicals are the types of people who could get something out of this book. Pretty much everyone else might as well try their hands at Swahili poetry, or becoming a Kumis taster.
Sun and Steel is a fascinating book, eccentric if not unique. And it will probably be enjoyed by anyone seriously at odds with modern times. But it is not written by a true reactionary so much as by an aesthetic who remained true to the visions of his youth. Mishima's opposition is to the democracy that forcibly replaced the mid-20th century Imperial system, not to the modernity that supplanted Japan's traditional values, arts, and politics.
I am honestly not sure that this book is worth reading unless you are generally familiar with Mishima's biography and work. I would recommend that people interested in this book first read Confessions of a Mask and at least one of the novels.
The exception to this recommendation would be readers looking for specific work on bodybuilding in literature. As I side note, I found it interesting to note the similarities between what Kathy Acker and Mishima had to say on the subject. (Wouldn't Mishima have been horrified by the comparison?)
The essay seems written more quickly than other works in the Mishima canon. I had trouble engaging with it at times, and found it more interesting biographically than as a work in its own right.
The book is bound with an Epilogue called F104 and a poem called Icarus. The Best translation felt competent, although there were some noticable typographic errors which I hope were corrected in later editions of the book.