The Sound of Waves

The Sound of Waves Study Guide

Yukio Mishima's The Sound of Waves was published in 1954 in Japanese. It was translated into English by Meredith Weatherby and published in North America in 1956. It is a sweet and simple tale of two lovers on an idyllic, isolated Japanese island in the post-WWII period who must deal with the disapprobation of their fellow villagers. While it is not considered one of Mishima's best works, it is nonetheless a popular one and is seen as quite divergent from the majority of his oeuvre. Mishima received the Shincho Prize from Shinchosha Publishing in 1954 for the work.

Mishima penned this novel after a trip to Greece and a study of its culture; Mishima scholars Dick Wagenaar and Yoshio Iwamoto wrote that Mishima appreciated the "harmonious balance between intellect and flesh" evinced by the Greeks and that his novel "radiates an aura of gentle affection and endearing innocence. Evil, in the form of two characters who represent the mind principle, remains on the periphery, failing to corrupt the pure love between its Daphnis and Chloë-modelled lovers."

Reviews were quite positive; Edmund Fuller's review from the New York Times wrote that "the colorful setting is an enchantment, but the basic appeal is universal. 'The Sound of Waves' is altogether a joyous and lovely thing." The San Francisco Chronicle review said that it was "of such classic design its action might take place at any point across a thousand years."

There is one animated adaptation of the novel released in North America by Central Park Media, and five Japanese movie adaptations with the original Japanese title of Shiosai released in 1954, 1964, 1971, 1975, and 1985.