Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yukio Mishima-"The Fountains in the Rain" --A Short Story

"The Fountains in the Rain" by Yukio Mishima (6 pages, translated from the Japanese, 1989, by John Bester)

Japanese literature in translation is one of my reading passions and part of the announced focus of my blog.   I have strayed away in the last few months but I want to post on three stories by world class canon status Japanese authors in the next few days.    For  me the post WWII Japanese novel has opened up an incredibly rich new area of reading.  I will also, I think, post on a very good short story by a second generation Japanese/American writer.

Yukio Mishima (1925 to 1970-Tokyo) is on all lists of top five Japanese novelists of all times.    Some put him at the top of the list,  a list which includes two Nobel Prize laureates.   Mishima is on my "read everything that has been translated list".     I have done four prior posts on him.    His The Sailor that Fell from Grace with The Sea is a brilliant account of the clash of Japanese culture with western values, one of the dominant themes of Mishima.    I also posted on a collection of five of his No plays.    His work in drama is almost a recasting of Samuel Becket as a formalized Japanese theatrical work.    I also posted on the first two novels in his great tetrology, The Sea of Fertility.    Mishima also wrote  a lot of short stories.

"The Fountains in the Rain" was first published in English in a 1989 in a collection of seven of his short stories, Acts of Worship.  (I do not know the date of its original publication -I guess around 1950).   One often sees in the work of Mishima the depiction of acts of cruelty done for no reason than the the pleasure it may bring.   The acts are most of done, it seems, by young men who have begun for the first time to discover the world is not perfect and feel this is all the justification they  need for what I will call "recreational cruelty".     There are only two people in "Fountains in the Rain", a young man and his very much in love with him girl friend.   It is a first relationship for both of them.    The man had one purpose only in mind in entering into the relationship and  doing all he can to make the woman fall in love with him so he could enjoy the sensation of seeing what her reaction would be when for no reason whatsoever he coldly and suddenly tells her he wishes to end the relationship.     Mishima's handling of the emotions of both partners is perfect.    The ending is stunning and beautifully undercuts what we thought was our understanding of the story.   

"The Fountain in the Rain" can be READ HERE.

I highly recommend this story for its own merits and as a way of "trying out" Mishima.

I am always looking for suggestions for short stories so please leave a comment.  

Mel u


Ben said...

Oh Mishima, the realest, most believable tormented poet. I haven't read him in a while, but it's true that most of his works are majestic. The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion is my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I actually read The Devo­tion of Sus­pect X by Keigo Higashino ( and that was one of my first introductions to Japanese literature.

I also read The Peach Boy, a Japanese fairytale to my son - a great story.

Anonymous said...

I am not familiar at all with Japanese literature, but I'm willing to discover. I will save this link, thanks!

Mel u said...

Ben-I hope to read The Temple of the Golden Pavilion this year

Man of la Book-thanks for the link

emeire-I think I have a post online about getting started in Japanese literature

@parridhlantern said...

I've read The sailor who fell from grace with the sea & Temple of the dawn (before realising it was the third part ) & thoroughly enjoyed them, I'm of the same agreement concerning Japanese authors placement in the world lit as their are some really amazing writers that deserve better recognition.