Yukio Mishima: 春の雪 Haru no Yuki

4 and a half starsWhen I read a translated book I m always very conscious that what I m reading is not necessarily what the author meant to write I m reading a book that s very much like what the author wrote but not really the same I have no idea what Mishima s book is like in the original Japanese but if this translation is anything like it the beauty of the prose in Japanese must be evastatingThe story of Kioyaki and Satoko is in and of itself not remarkable forbidden loves especially in highly hierarchical and ritualized society such as Imperial Japan on the cusp of modernization is nothing new nor are bildungsroman about the often painful transition between boy and man But the prose The The Beckoning Lady (Albert Campion delicate poetic and incredibly evocative prose turns this story into aream like journey in 1912 Japan a world fascinated with the West but still holding on to Will in the World deeply rooted traditionsIt has to be read slowly to really let oneself bask into the elegant melancholy of Mishima s writing It isense at times but so sensual and crisp that you forget how silly Kioyaki and Satoko are They are both so beautiful and so spoiled selfish and conceited that you wish someone would give them a good slap or two until they snapped out of ruining each others lives But Mishima writes them in a way that makes it impossible not to want to know what happens to them It comes as no surprise that there is tragedy at the end of the path they follow But what an interesting pathAnd as gorgeous as the writing is it reminded me of a really pleasant but too liberally applied perfume it could get a bit overwhelming and then I June Fourth Elegies d have to read the passage again to make sure I knew what was going onI will be looking for the rest of the Sea of Fertility tetralogy which follows Kioyaki s friend Honda Theeep friendship between the two young men leads Honda to believe he meets successive reincarnations of Kioyaki and tries to save him from his karma If the other three books are as good as Spring Snow they are than worth the time A book can be either of two things a key to open locked Baby and Child Vegetarian Recipes doors which lead to uniue experiences we have not encountered or are impossible for us to attain while the other is a mirror to show us who we are or remind us of ourselves and the past we have not forgotten One stirs excitement the other nostalgia This time it took the shape of the latter The book served as a mirror to me reminding me of a befuddled young man blind to the workings of his heart prone to exaggerating the simple nuances in the actions of a womanevoted to him a woman he The Confabulist doubted because of childish fears But I am not here to talk of myself I am here because the pain it stirred in me forces me to writeKiyoaki a beautiful yet lethargic young man is at odds with his eually beautiful childhood friend Satoko An inexperienced boy when it comes to theesire inside him he constantly misinterprets and confuses the actions of the young woman who is thoroughly taken with him His melancholy attitude Der Illusionist doesn t help his cause and he loathes balefully in the estranged pool of his own work That is until he learns of Satoko s engagement with a prince thus the object of his hatred and bewilderment is snatched from him suddenly out of reach It is such a curious thing that when something we have ignored for so long is suddenly unavailable to us we find it infinitelyesirable The fickle human heart with its itinerant impulses shifts its gear and so the idea of unattainability forces us to acknowledge the taken for granted the sudden spotlight makes the Enticing (PI Men to the Rescue dull suddenly novel And it is in this manner that young Kiyoaki realizes the gravity of his passion for Satoko Doomed from the very start an affair begins between the childhood friends In this shared consciousness of tragedy their love flourishes At the very core of this tragic romance Spring Snow serves as Yukio Mishima s statement against elegance Being a military man of action he felt that the Japanese strayed from the righteous way of the Samurai and have alarmingly become slaves of pleasure smitten with exterior beauty apathetic to the real world too taken by the West too modern He envisioned a traditional Japan with its graceful simplicity austere values and unceasing nationalism and love for the Emperor The character Kiyoaki is a warning to the people of Japan a cautionary tale to show the rottenness that elegance is bound to instill in the indolent souls of its time This very idea is what prompted Mishima to stage a coup tat in 1970 to restore power to the Emperor But he failed and thus committed ritual seppuku However before his Spring Comes to Sanctuary (Welcome to Sanctuary, death he was able to complete his tetralogy the Sea of Fertility which features Spring Snow as the first of four books With this in mind I believe it to be uite irresponsible to fully interpret an incomplete picture To understand his real intentions I have to complete the journey by reading the other three works Yet as a standalone it is rather fascinating to see something that was meant to alarm instead take one s breath away with sheer elegance And so by embodying the object of his scorn Mishima ironically succeeds in mirroring the very relationship of Kiyoaki and Satoko The path we re taking is not a road Kiyo it s a pier and it ends someplace where the sea begins All at once subtle tender and painful this novel manages to evoke a somber tinge of passion in the otherwise luscious backdrop of Taisho Japan Indeed like spring snow a furtive loveliness envelops the landscape of its pages but intertwined with this beauty is a faint cry ofesolation a uiet Ask the Past deadliness that can only enhance its icy elegance Mishima like other great writers has a way of implanting memories in our heads echoes of other lives How this magic happens is a mystery but when itoes you feel somehow Riding Class (Saddle Club, denser inside solid Spring Snow left me with that feeling of having increased my gravity and weight with the lyricalescriptions history characters ceremonies letters political intrigue birds and emerald rings and emerald snakes and silk kim It is hard to put words to the beauty and melancholy that Mishima pours into this first of his great tetralogy The symbolism the imagery the characters everything here is Silver Stirrups (Saddle Club, drawn with a fine pencil and eye foretail The characters reappear in the following books but not as you might expect This is one of the great monuments of Japanese literature in the 20th C my other favourite is Soseki s I am a Cat and it is truly a pleasure to read and savour Spring Snow is volume one of Yukio Mishima s tetralogy The Sea of Fertility When the book opens the year is 1912 and the setting Meiji Japan which has given way to Taisho Different Class democracy an environment is that of a fading Japanese aristocracy resigned to accept into its midst the creep of a westernization of it s culture Adolescent law student Shigekuni Honda is an impassive friend to Kiyoaki Matsugae a baron s son ofistant samurai Short Stories by Roald Dahl descent Honda s future seems preordained Kiyoaki is areamer who is gripped by the sense that life s slippery fineness is running through his fingers and away from him second by second He longs to chase the impossible to bend the world into the shape of his idealsKiyoaki s esires eventually encounter the beautiful Satoko Ayakura Although they have been friends since early childhood they have grown into a mutual indifference of each other When Satoko gets engaged to a prin. An austere love story probably my favourite of his novels David Mitchell IndependentTokyo 1912 The closed world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders rich provincial families

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F work for uick cash but even if those inferior works are iscarded he still had an impressive body of work for a man who ied so young He had just finished the final volume in The Sea of Fertility tetralogy of which Spring Snow is the first before his suicide Spring Snow is a novel of pride misplaced loyalty blackmail intrigue lust selfishness sacrifice and misery It is the story of star crossed lovers steadfast friends political mishaps and conniving servants The setting is 1912 Tokyo in the inner circle of imperial court Our hero is Kiyoaki who was born so beautiful he stirred the blood of women from 8 to 80 He was a young man of 19 whom women wanted and men wanted to be like Those people too enad with him soon found themselves rebuffed Honda a fellow classmate of Kiyoaki observed this tendency and modified his approach to Kiyoaki forsaking fawning for aloofness He knew only too well how Kiyoaki reserved his keenest Socialist Realism displeasure for any excessive show of friendship Now his name is HONDA not HONDO It must be the fact that Hondo was one of my favorite John Wayne movies when I was a kid combined with the fact that I really liked Honda by far my favorite character in the book that I kept changing his name in my head to Hondo Kiyoaki as a young lad of 13 was asked to participate in a ritual ceremony that brought him in close proximity to the princess He missteps andisrupts the trail of her ermine coat Princess Kasuga s lavish use of French perfume extended to her train and its fragrance overpowered the musky odor of incense Some way I Look Up To... Michelle Obama down the corridor Kiyoaki stumbled for a moment inadvertently tugging at the train The princess turned her head slightly and as a sign that she was not at all annoyed smiled gently at the youthful offender Her gesture went unnoticed body perfectly erect in that fractional turn she had allowed Kiyoaki a glimpse of a corner of her mouth At that moment a single wisp of hair slipped over her clear white cheek and out of the finerawn corner of an eye a smile flashed in a spark of black fire But the pure line of her nose Doctor Extraño did not move It as as if nothing had happenedthis fleeting angle of the Princess s face too slight to be called a profile made Kiyoaki feel as if he had seen a rainbow flicker for a bare instant through a prism of pure crystal This scene stays with Kiyoaki for the rest of his life He considered it one of the mostefining moments of his life which makes it all the inexplicable why it takes him so long to realize the extraordinary beauty of his life time friend Satoko Only after his friends at school see her and react extravagantly to her charms oes Kiyoaki for the first time see her as a woman and not as an annoying child She is acerbic sarcastic intelligent and head over heels in love with Kiyoaki Her wit and his pride contribute to the continued cross purposes of their relationship Honda proves himself time and time again helping Kiyoaki with insane plans to get unsupervised time with Satoko He rejects her and then wants her than ever His own heart seemed to him to be much like an arrow stripped of the flashing white feathers that gave it irectionThe minor characters provide twisty plot turns that add inspiring flavor to the plot Jaw Never Tell dropping unexpected moments of blackmail with aash of spicy intrigue keep the pages turning even when the main characters are off the stage Beautiful escriptive passages bits of Zen and an ending that Shakespeare would certainly approve of lead me to say HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Mishima 1925 1970 was a classic Japanese author He was a fierce anti communist who led a band of rebels trying to restore the Emperor He committed ritual suicide when the plot failed His best known work is a tetralogy The Sea of Fertility of which this book is the first volume Class ivisions and changing values in Japan ue to western influence aree major themes The main character is the son of a very wealthy family How wealthy They have 40 servants and the boy oesn t know all their names even though some of them who have worked there for years The family lives in a multi house compound which includes a western style home in which they entertain and occasionally have western meals The boy s own room is in a Japanese style house but it s Comet in Moominland (The Moomins, decorated with western furniture His mother oftenresses and wears her hair in western style And yet he has a friend at school whose family he feels is western in outlook than his Hunters Heart despite their family s lack of western trappings in furniture food andress The boy is very good looking Menneskefluene (K2 dreamy melancholy lazy and ambition less He s bright but he figures he ll get into a university for rich kids because he s not wasting time studying for exams to get into an academically prestigious school He s 18 when the story opens The end of the Russo Japanese War 7 years ago is a key backdrop to the story So we know it s around 1912 So the boy s family has money but it s not one of Japan s traditional 28 noble families like the one nextoor So his father creates an alliance between those two families and the boy spends much time at the neighboring residence absorbing the noble ambiance His father supplies the money the other family supplies the prestigeThe plot revolves around a love story between this boy and the Nazi Gold daughter of the neighboring household They have known each other all their lives and she has loved him since they were children But his feelings toward her are on again off again he mistreats her and pretends heoesn t care for her Finally she gives up on him and becomes engaged to a son of a noble family actually a member of the Emperor s household At this point she s is 21 he s 19 and after the engagement has been approved by the Emperor himself finally he Mr Majeika and the School Inspector decides he loves her and begins to pursue her They begin a sexual relationship and she becomes pregnant If word of any of this gets out it would be the euivalent of a national scandal When the boy s father learns what is going on after spending his whole life ass kissing the emperor and the nobles to say he is apoplectic is putting it mildly Never having lifted a hand to his son before he beats him with a pool cueTheifficult romance gives the author a chance to Selected Poems discuss the theme of the light of reason vs thearkness of passions There s also uite a bit of iscussion about Buddhism and reincarnation But we know all this can only end in tragedy His friend counsels him that he is throwing his life away almost as if he wants to commit suicide There is good writing such as this passage that I liked On a warm spring ay a galloping horse was only too clearly a sweating animal of flesh and blood But a horse racing through a snowstorm became one with the very elements wrapped in the whirling blast of the north wind the beast embodied the icy breath of winter It s a good story I on t know if it entices me to read the whole tetralogy but the second volume is the series Runaway Horses is eually highly rated as Spring Snow The other two are The temple of Dawn and The Decay of the Angel Probably the author s best known work in English is not part of the tetralogy it s The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Photo of the Great Buddha of Kamakura featured in the novel from onmarkproductionscomPhoto of the newly restored Marunouchi Building part of the Shimbasi railroad station featured in the novel Photo of the author from Goodreads. Nd confused by his feelings for the exuisite spirited Sakoto When Sakoto is engaged to a royal prince Kiyoaki realises the magnitude of his passionCover illustration Anne Crone based on Evening Snow by Ando Hiroshige.

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Ce Kiyoaki is suddenly consumed by an inspired passion for her and the two fall into an illicit affair that proves the undoing of them both She get pregnant and then gets an abortion Honda accepts the job of go between for the lovers but can only watch as Satoko renounces the world and exiles herself to a remote wintry nunnery Kiyoaki rives himself to pneumonia in a hopeless effort to retrieve her Dying clutching Honda s hand Kiyoaki murmurs that they will meet again someday beneath the falls Although it sounds a bit melodramatic in truth the book is amazingly well written with subtleties implications and conseuences of environment both human and cultural that cause the reader to marvel at Yukio Mishima s abilities A master at workThe closest euivalent I could suggest for compaison is the love story of Romeo an Juliet also a story of star crossed lovers The story is filled with symbolism imagery and melancholy This Knopf hardcover edition was printed in 1972 and is the first American Edition issued as part of a set of all four books The cycle consisting ofVol 1 Spring Snow Vol 2 Runaway HorsesVol 3 The Temple Of DawnVol 4 Five Signs Of A Gods DecayThe series which Mishima began writing in 1964 and which was his final work is usually thought of as his masterpiece Mishima s ritualistic suicide in 1970 will always overshadow his work Haru no Yuki Spring Snow The Sea of Fertility Book 1 Yukio MishimaSpring Snow is a novel by Yukio Mishima the first in his Sea of Fertility tetralogy It was published seriall A brilliant first salvo in the Sea of Fertility tetralogy setting up uestions of reincarnation cultural continuity and faith while working as a stand alone novel I m curious to continue my journey through these books they are an odd mixture of the researched nostalgia of the Ferrante series and the self sufficient ecade spanning approach of the Rabbits or the Zuckermans I always enjoy reading Mishima but the gentleness and freuent Austenian humor of Spring Snow surprised me It s a love story a hate story simple in its conceit a 19 year old man The Train Robbers drives away a woman two years older then realizes he may love her once she s engaged but full of Mishima floruishesead animals lengthy Mann like No Reason To Die discourses on Buddhism turbulent longing constant risk ofeath Most interesting perhaps is the fact that the book s supporting character Honda is barely in the action yet will take on the mantle of the series going forward Ambitious and a pleasure It s also a brilliantly researched look at the practices and customs of 1910s Japan Set near Tokyo in 1912 In Spring Snow Kiyoaki Matsugae is sent as a child be raised on the estate of a Count where he learns all the worst habits of a Naked Risk (Shatterproof decadent court He is slothful he preens in the knowledge of his superior looks When 18 years of age he is so self involved the familiarisaffectedness of many Mishima protagonists that even when kissing the woman who loves him he thinks only of how he feels He s an affected asshole who takes a conscious pleasure in crueltyThis was further proof of the hidden savage essence of the elegance he had cultivated for so long p 257Kioyaki s friend is the upstanding Shigekuni Honda He adores Kiyoaki A hard working young man who loses himself in thoughts of the niceties of European Natural Law and the Laws of Manu which at the time of the action the author tells us were the foundation of Indian law He also has an abiding interest in historiography particularly how he and his peers will be viewed by future generations This Raking The Ashes dovetails with the theme of reincarnation which links the four books of The Sea of Fertility cycle The vast Matsugae estate is imposing It is still the period of mourning for the late emperor who was called Meiji in life So the cherry blossom festival as it turns out will be observed though on a smaller scale than usual An imperial prince attends with his wife and other visitors Their route through the blossoms is girded by a red and white curtain presumably for purposes of privacy The Western house is filled with geishas A platform for their cherry blossomances is built in the garden Later there will be a banuet and a film shown based on a Dickens novelAmid it all Kiyoaki is adrift Satoko is there in all her finery but it s somehow not enough What is he waiting for In thrall to his own beauty his pride Kiyoaki is at odds with himself contradictory in his impulses He is lost no Ellie (Ellie, decisiveness aside from a snowy rickshaw ride with Satoko which was her idea comes from him His is a rapt passivity Meanwhile he stubbornly let s go of Satoko when she is courted by an imperial prince and thinks good riddanceDevoid of worry or annoyance free of all anxiety Kiyoaki at nineteen liked to see himself as a cold and supremely capable young man He felt that he was now past some watershed in the course of his life p 163But he isn t Unable to read his own emotions he takes grief forelight his strength of will as he terms it when tearing up a letter from Satoko unread he begins to sense may be cowardice for she is just about to marry the imperial prince What a muddle he s in Though an aristocrat he has known social isolation much of his life Thus his misreading of people and situations always in a manner that plays to his own falsely elevated sense of self worthLong ago he had resolved to recognize his emotions as his only guiding truth and to live his life accordingly even if meant a Dear Office-Politics deliberate aimlessness That principle had now brought him to his present sinister feelings of joy which seemed to be the brink of a racing plunging whirlpool There seemed to be nothing left but to throw himself into it p 177I won t go into Kiyoaki and Satoko s love affair or the novel s tragicenouement Suffice it to say that Kiyoaki s comeuppance is uite a spectacle and Honda is there to puzzle over it The book has a very long fuse The last 200 pages are far better than the first 200 Despite this uneven start this is the strongest Mishima novel I have ever read Yukio Mishima felt the Japanese government needed to return to a system based on the samurai code He was escended from samarais and believed that this code advocating complete command of one s body and soul combined with a complete loyalty to the emperor was necessary for Japan to return to prominence He formed his own army in 1970 and attempted a coup tat With a few friends he overpowered the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp the Tokyo headuarters of the Eastern Command of Japan s Self Defense Forces and tied the commandant to a chair Mishima then stepped onto a balcony outside the commandant s office and gave an impassioned speech to the government troops to join his cause He was jeered and mocked off the balcony He returned to the commandant s office and committed seppuku a ritual suicide The friend he had chosen to slice his head from his body at the end of the ritual could not complete his responsibilities and another friend stepped in to end his pain Mishima had been planning his suicide for almost a year For those with a gruesome bent you can find pictures of his severed head on the internet Mishima was only 45 on November 25th 1970 He had been a successful actor kendo master and of course writer Mishima wrote 40 novels 18 plays 20 books of short stories and at least 20 books of essays one libretto as well as one film Like Fitzgerald he ashed off a lot New and powerful political eliteKiyoaki has been raised among the elegant Ayakura family members of the waning aristocracy but he is not one of them Coming of age he is caught up in the tensions between old and new

Yukio Mishima 三島 由紀夫 was born in Tokyo in 1925 He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s School of Jurisprudence in 1947 His first published book The Forest in Full Bloom appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask 1949 From then until his death he continued to publish novels short stories and plays each year His crowning achievement th