The first novel of Mishima's landmark tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility.
Spring Snow is set in Tokyo in 1912, when the hermetic world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders -- rich provincial families unburdened by tradition, whose money and vitality make them formidable contenders for social and political power. Among this rising new elite are the ambitious Matsugae, whose son has been raised in a family of the waning aristocracy, the elegant and attenuated Ayakura. Coming of age, he is caught up in the tensions between old and new -- fiercely loving and hating the exquisite, spirited Ayakura Satoko. He suffers in psychic paralysis until the shock of her engagement to a royal prince shows him the magnitude of his passion, and leads to a love affair that is as doomed as it was inevitable.
©1972 Copyright 1972 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Originally published in Japan as Haru no Yuki by Shinchosha Company, Tokyo, in 1968. c. 1968 by Yukio Mishima (P)2010 Audible, Inc
"[The Sea of Fertility] is a literary legacy on the scale of Proust's." (National Review)
"Mishima is like Stendhal in his precise psychological analyses, like Dostoevsky in his explorations of darkly destructive personalities." (Christian Science Monitor)
Wonderful and lyrical. With a canvas as broad as Mishima's hero Thomas Mann and writing as lyrical as Rilke. Very impressive.
Mishima who performed the ritual Seppukku on the afternoon of Nov 25, 1970, sealed and posted to his publisher the manuscript of The Sea of Fertility, a tetralogy of novels over which he had labored for five years. Unfortunately his magnum opus has always been occluded by his suicide. The four books – Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, The Temple of Dawn and The Decay of the Angel – are a saga of 20th-century Japan: a story of national decline that nonetheless proposes redemption through the endurance of a certain soul, forceful enough to be reborn ad-infinitum.
Spring Snow (volume 1 of this tetralogy) is set in 1912 and has shades of Lampedusa's-The Leopard). The main characters of this book are capricious Kiyoaki Matsugae, a baron's son of distant samurai descent, his friend Shigekuni Honda and Kiyoaki's love Satoko Ayakura.
The extraordinary beauty of this book lies in Mishima's intense portrayal of Kiyoaki as a dreamer, gripped by the sense that life's elusive fineness is slipping away by the second and longing to chase the impossible, to "bend the world" into the shape of his ideals. Of course tragedy is not far behind.
The narrator has done his job deftly.
I hope Audible will consider bringing out volumes 2, 3 and 4 of this transcendental work.
I couldn't get into this book at all. I found the depth of description of every aspect of each moment in the narrative distracted me so much from the story I couldn't follow it's thread. I persisted, hoping I'd get immersed in the story as I became more familiar with the characters. Unfortunately this didn't happen and I ended up giving up on it after the first few chapters. I wouldn't recommend it.
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