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The Sound of Waves Paperback – October 4, 1994

92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Written in 1956 and 1959, respectively, this duo represent a hit and a miss. LJ's reviewer found Waves amateurish (LJ 8/56), while Temple was praised by another LJ reviewer (LJ 5/15/59) and Japanese critics, who voted it one of the ten best novels of the year.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A story that is both happy and a work of art. . . . Altogether a joyous and lovely thing."
The New York Times "Of such classic design its action might take place at any point across a thousand years."
—San Francisco Chronicle "Mishima is like Stendhal in his precise psychological analyses, like Dostoevsky in his explorations of darkly destructive personalities."
Christian Science Monitor

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 4, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679752684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679752684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Richard Hugo, an excellent poet and teacher, said that each poem has two subjects - the triggering subject (or the story), and the second, deeper subject. This holds true for many great works of literature, not just poems, and The Sound of Waves is no exception.
On the surface, we have a subtly erotic love story about Shinji and Hatsue, two hard-working young Japanese people in a close-knit, isolated, traditional village. They go on with their romance despite ugly rumors which prompt Hatsue's father, Terukichi (known as "Uncle Teru") to forbid his daughter from seeing Shinji. There is a happy ending, but I won't give it away.
This is more than your typical love story. The main characters, Shinji and Hatsue, are ideal Japanese people in the traditional, uncorrupted village: hard-working, devoted to the family, honest, and religious. The rumormongers are Westernized: Chiyoko - a pessimistic girl - is a student in western literature at a city university, and Yasuo - a rude, selfish, lazy boy who wants Hatsue for himself - is well-read in pulp magazines. It is traditional Japanese willpower and discipline that keeps Shinji and Hatsue together despite their obstacles.
What is remarkable is that the book does not make its point with a sledgehammer. The traditional characters win out, not because they tattle or scream; their integrity forces the modern characters to face the errors of their modern ways. This book is almost as relavent to our changing America as it was to Mishima's changing Japan. One read-through and you will understand Mishima's patriotism, his long quest for a return to tradition that led to his seppuku.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Few books accurately capture the feeling of first love the way Yukio Mishima's "The Sound of Waves" does. Set in a small Japanese fishing village in the mid-20th century, this is a beautiful story that will charm the romantic at heart with its simplicity and intensity.
Shinji is a poor young fisherman, living with his widowed mother and relatively carefree. That changes when he sees a lovely young pearl-diver named Hatsue looking out to sea. Shinji soon finds that he can't get Hatsue out of his mind; he's fallen in love, for the very first time. She soon falls in love with him as well -- it's first love for them both, and for a few days everything seems fine.
But things start to go wrong when an unhappy young girl sees the two of them leaving a secluded spot. Soon rumors are spread about Hatsue and Shinji's relationship, and the arrogant Yasuo even physically chases Hatsue when she is getting water. When Hatsue's overprotective father forbids her to see Shinji again, and seems about to betroth her to Yasuo, Shinji has only one chance to be reunited with his love.
Generally the word "romance" conjures images of busty half-naked women being held in impossible positions by chiseled he-men with torn shirts. But "Sound of Waves" is genuine romance, about the sort of love that any person could experience if they are open to it, in any part of the world. He is also one of the few authors who can convey the joy and pain of being in love. Not to mention the exalted way one can feel, without losing sight of their humanity: Shinji and Hatsue definitely have hormones, but keep them in check. There's a kind of mature innocence to how these two interact.
Yukio Mishima's writing is both brief and detailed.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Anna K on June 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A 16-year-old recommended this book to me because "it has a lot of SAT words" and I, being the SAT prep instructor that I am, had to investigate. My young pupil was indeed correct in saying that the English translation of this book contains many words commonly seen on the SAT, but she failed to mention how incredibly well-written the book was, too!
I had a very hard time putting down this book simply because it flows so beautifully. Words are not wasted; everything is said for a purpose, from the desriptions of the scenery of this small Japanese island to the descriptions of the sunburnt faces of the main characters. Mishima tells the story of a forbidden love that doesn't become too sappy sweet. It is refreshing to read a novel that focuses so much on human character traits (& flaws) while also leaving room for serendipity & fate.
An easy read with a nice plot and excellent character developments, this book is highly recommended to readers of all ages. And if you happen to know of a high school student who wants to improve his/her vocabulary and critical reading abilities (or you happen to be one), then this is the perfect book for you! You won't regret it!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on December 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Yukio Mishima wrote The Sound of Waves following a visit to Greece and his immersion in the literature of ancient Greece. His fascination with the Mediterranean world and his affection for ancient literature (in particular, Daphnis and Chloe) is reflected in this sunny novel. He produced a very approachable and charming story about a island fishing village, and it is no wonder that this book was the first selected for translation into English in 1956 (published in Japan in 1954).

The novel centers around Shinji, a young fisherman, and Hatsue, who had been given away by her father Terukichi but was called back by him when his son died so he could marry his daughter and adopt the husband into his family. The story follows what one would expect in a small village where everyone is known and gossip abounds. It is assumed that Hatsue will marry Yasuo, who is from a family that is well off whereas Shinji is poor. Love, however, takes a different hand and when Shinji and Hatsue see each other something begins that cannot be stopped. Of course, there are obstacles in their way and Terukichi places his daughter under house arrest because of the gossip that has grown over their relationship. But the reader understands early that Shinji is bound to triumph over adversity and win Hatsue because his character is noble and hard-working. I don't think anyone would doubt the end of the novel; it is the character development and Mishima's powers of description that keep your attention.

What adds so much to this novel is Mishima's description of island life. For example, he brilliantly describes the women divers who struggle to bring up abalone and notes how they cut their toes when they use their foot to push off the sea floor.
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