Yukio Mishima’s novel, The Sound of Waves (1956), has long been considered Mishima’s crowning achievement. When it was first published, New York Times Book Reviewer Edmund Fuller (1956, August 19) said the story “is a maturely conceived idyl, that captures the purity and candor of youthful desire,” and referred to the whole novel as “altogether a joyous and lovely thing.” The novel is set on the beautiful island of Hata-jima during World War II and chronicles the journey of a young Japanese boy named Shinji as he battles cultural barriers to be with the young girl he loves. The novel demonstrates remarkable mastery of imagery and metaphor, utilizing descriptive sensory details and supplying information about a little-known culture. Today, students do not think of fishing and oyster-diving when they think of Japan, but it was an essential part of the island’s culture and economic system during the early to mid 20th century. It is important that students become well-developed and informed about different areas around the globe and how they came to be.
By: Yukio Mishima