By: Pinguet, Maurice

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For most Western observers, the Japanese practice of voluntary death, wheth er the self-inflicted sword-stroke of a warrior or the simultaneous suicide of lovers, is shocking and difficult to understand. The practice of volunt ary death is deeply alien to Western Culture and to the Christian view that God alone is entrusted with power over life and death. In Japan, however,a tradition of voluntary death has existed for more than a millenium. The suicides of samurai warriors, of kamikaze fighter pilots, of artists and lovers are part of a tradition which stretches back over man y centuries and which expresses a distinctive way of relating to death. In this profound and sensitive study, Maurice Pinguet carefully reconstruct s this tradition of voluntary death and relates it to other aspects of Japa nese culture and society. He shows that, in early Japanese myths and legend s, acts of self-immolation were often exalted as an ideal. A self-effacing suicide was viewed as an ethical act: a way of restoring order in a world d isrupted by conflict or marred by failure. Pinguet examines in detail the customs and elaborate rituals which surrounded the practice of voluntary death in different times and among different groups, from the seppuka practised by warriors in the thirteenth century to the suicide of Mishima in the twentieth. The result is a brilliant and absorbing analysis of Japanese culture and society - an analysis which, by focusing on a practice that is radically different from our own, tells us something about Western civilization as well.


Author Name: Pinguet, Maurice

Categories: Culture,

Publisher: Polity: 1993

ISBN Number: 0745608701

ISBN Number 13: 9780745608709

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good/Good

Seller ID: RWARE0000044847