Read Kaçak Atlar by Yukio Mishima Free Online
Book Title: Kaçak Atlar|
The author of the book: Yukio Mishima
Edition: Can Yayınları
Date of issue: 1993
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 723 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.6
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3½⭐️ This novel and The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea are my two favorite Mishima books of the seven I've read so far.
Runaway Horses is set in 1932-33, a time of economic hardship in Japan, not long after the start of the great global Depression. Farmers, especially, are suffering. Rice imports have been allowed into Japan. This has allowed for the population to be fed but at the cost of depressing domestic rice prices for farmers, many of whom are now starving. Factory workers, too, no longer needed in a depressed economy, return to the family farms which they once left with great aspirations, compounding the general misery.
Meanwhile, 21st-century style Trumpian capitalists are playing the economy for every last yen. David Bergamini, in his book Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, describes the currency speculation on the part of government and aristocracy at this time, which he calls the “dollar swindle.” Let's just say, the episode was not good for the yen, nor the Japanese economy as a whole.
This is the setting in which eighteen-year-old Isao, raised and radicalized by a dipsomaniacal right-wing father—banzai!—sets about making the terrible state of Japan better. His plan, and he has many followers, all about eighteen years old as well, is to kill ten major capitalists, blow up the Bank of Japan and take out eight electrical substations as a means of forcing a state of marshal law and, thus, the restoration of imperial rule. One fat cat in particular, Busuké Kurahara, is much hated. The man on the street, including Isao, believes the Emperor has been hoodwinked by those close to him. (It’s a variation on the “If Hitler only knew” rationalization, so rife in Germany in those years.)
Mishima adored writing about boys. (Mishima adored boys.) The lad in this case, Isao, has a passion for purity and loyalty and death, that only roughly translates for the Western reader. I had a very hard time trying to understand why a lad of eighteen would be interested in killing capitalists and then cutting open his own stomach. It’s something abstruse having to do with honor. Maybe there’s a rough equivalent for it in Western chivalry, though it should be noted that most European knights were little more than banditti. I don’t know. But to me, even perhaps to some Japanese alive today, the whole mindset is irrational and, thus, incomprehensible, like gassing Jews.
For most of the book Isao seems to operate in a virtual intellectual vacuum. It’s hard to know how or why he’s motivated to act as he does. All that secrecy, all that time with his fellow boys. Is he operating on secret knowledge or is he completely insane? Mishima badly muddles Isao. At the end of the novel, Isao stands up in court and gives an overly detailed speech on his motivations which strikes the reader as completely out of character. Suddenly, the boy’s using adverbs? This taciturn and lonely kid is now giving lessons in Japanese history and current affairs? When just before, in prison, there was a passage in which he thought of himself as too intellectually dim; in other words, without the very mellifluousness he later displays in court? IMHO, it's a tremendous gaffe.
Interestingly enough, Isao is locked up in Ishigaya Prison, which turns out to be the very spot where Mishima would make his final stand on November 25, 1970. (Though by then the building was called the Self-Defense Force Headquarters.) You may remember photos of Mishima in full military dress without insignia hortatorily espousing samurai virtues from atop a carport outside the building, which led to cat calls and public derision, before committing seppuku (literally, stomach cutting). He was 45. The day before, we are told, he completed the very last page of the last novel of the present tetralogy, The Decay of the Angel.
That said, we must also remember that this second volume—the first volume is Spring Snow; see my review—continues the story of the reincarnated Kiyoaki Matsugae, when his close friend, Honda, comes to believe that he has found the soul of his old friend reborn in the person of the young Isai Iinuma who, to complicate matters further, is also the son of Kiyoaki's old tutor. I have to admit on finishing the novel that the reincarnation kerfuffle seems unnecessary. It’s simply a device to ensure Honda’s ongoing participation in the complete four-novel cycle. Honda, now 38, is an esteemed Osaka judge early in his career. As such he is a firm believer in cold, rational discourse, which takes a severe blow once he becomes convinced—utterly convinced!—that he has come upon the reincarnated Kiyoaki Matsugae.
I’m committed to reading the next two novels in the cycle, but my expectations, I must admit, are rather middling. Mishima is always problematic for me. Then again there are times—especially when he’s moving through a landscape or describing the action of a scene—when his precision takes the breath away. So, recommended with reservations. If you’re like me—someone who’s read widely in pre- and post-war Japanese history and literature—the cycle may be essential.
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Read information about the authorYukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威) who was a Japanese author, poet and playwright, famous for both his highly notable post-war writings and the circumstances of his ritual suicide by seppuku.
Mishima wrote 40 novels, 18 plays, 20 books of short stories, and at least 20 books of essays, one libretto, as well as one film. A large portion of this oeuvre comprises books written quickly for profit, but even if these are disregarded, a substantial body of work remains.
He was recognized as one of the most important post-war stylists of the Japanese language.
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