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Spring Snow: The Sea of Fertility, 1 (Vintage International) Kindle Edition

76 customer reviews

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Length: 399 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


"Romantic obsession and sexual intrigue meet in the sumptuous historical melodrama" Variety "An austere love story, probably my favourite of his novels" -- David Mitchell Independent on Sunday "Mishima is the Japanese Hemingway" Life magazine "This tetralogy is considered one of Yukio Mishima's greatest works. It could also be considered a catalogue of Mishima's obsessions with death, sexuality and the samurai ethic. Spanning much of the 20th century, the tetralogy begins in 1912 when Shigekuni Honda is a young man and ends in the 1960s with Honda old and unable to distinguish reality from illusion. En route, the books chronicle the changes in Japan that meant the devaluation of the samurai tradition and the waning of the aristocracy." Washington Post "Mishima's novels exude a monstrous and compulsive weirdness, and seem to take place in a kind of purgatory for the depraved" -- Angela Carter

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese

Product Details

  • File Size: 3035 KB
  • Print Length: 399 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Publication Date: April 9, 2013
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C0ALYA8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,306 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Angry Mofo on May 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've only read two Mishima books so far, am reading a third now, and intend to get through 'em all. Alas, I fear that none will be as good as the first one I read - Spring Snow. I really didn't think people could still write like this in the 20th century. I mean, star-crossed, tragic love was an old subject by the time Shakespeare got to it - what made Mishima think he could write something new about it hundreds of years later? But something did, and I'm glad it did. For while there is a [very interesting] historical context to Spring Snow (tell me, what other book paints such a visceral portrait of early 20th century Japan?), the focus is on the love story. And no one writes love stories like Yukio Mishima. Somehow, it manages to avoid the gaping pitfalls of sentimentalism and melodrama, creating instead a world of great beauty and fragility that I was loath to leave when the book drew to its close.
If you read a biography of Mishima, you will likely find mountains of speculation concerning his various eccentricities (and that word is putting is nicely, methinks). Some will accuse him of right-wingery, others will rant about his "nationalism," etc. etc. etc. But I think that none of that applies. He was in no way a political person, just a hopelessly deluded romantic who still believed that romantic ideals had any place in modern society. This he applied to politics as well as to everything else. Spring Snow, fortunately, contains no politics, concentrating instead on romantic ideals as applied to the personal. The result is something that, while being Japanese through and through, is accessible to anyone. This book is worth reading for the marvelously poetic descriptions alone.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Calix F Eden on May 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mishima has the ability to get underneath the skin of his readers. What seems like an innocent and harmless story of adolescence gradually becomes one of fundamental importance. In my view, this is the most brilliant of the three Mishima novels I have read. It is a masterpiece which leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. None of Mishima's characters seem happy and even the 'heroes' are ambiguous, despite the fact that many of them are perfect in physical terms. We have to judge the character for ourselves without help, rather like a film without background music. There is a strong homo-erotic undercurrent in Mishima's work, even though the central relationship in this novel is heterosexual. The focal character, Kiyoaki, seems to be massochistic and derives a form of pleasure from his own destruction.
I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested in the complexities of relationships and the specific cultural life of Japan to read this novel. Above all, it should be read for the intricacy and skill of its literature.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
Spring Snow is a dramatic, moving work that helps codify Mishima's tetralogy, the Sea of Fertility, as perhaps the 20th century's greatest magnum opus. Mishima writes in a delicately impressionistic style, employing similes and metaphors of subtle, almost fragile beauty, that create a vivid and harmonic unity that simply inspire awe. Like Dante, he moves the reader's spirit as his characters spirits evolve. Like Dostoyevsky, he plunges relentlessly into the dark caprices of the mind. Like Milton, his word choice was so perfect that I put down the Sea of Fertility wishing that I had written it myself.

Spring Snow, the first installment of the cycle, stands very well on its own (though its ultimate meaning can only be appreciated as the tetralogy is continued). It takes place early in 20th century Japan, a time of transition in which Japan's decreased isolation leads to a Westernization that ultimately proves Spring Snow to be an elegy for the samurai tradition. It is also a wonderful and tragic love story -- far more convincing than Romeo and Juliet -- in which an impossible and doomed love threatens the young protagonists whose wealthy families adjust to the changing sociopolitical climate of Japan.

The other three books in the cycle are (in order):

'Runaway Horses,' 'The Temple of Dawn,' and 'The Decay of the Angel'
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34 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Yeung on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book back when I was a College Freshman. Back then the book presented a very good picture of the aristocratic life of early 1900's Japan to me. I read it at it's face value, as a tragic love story. The story was so intense and quiet full of suspense that I went thru 7 sleepless nights in a row to finish this great book. Eight years later, I have a second reading of this book. Since I had grown more mature since my first reading, I am able to detect more of the underlying ideas in the book. Ideas such as patriotism VS self-interst, self-gratification VS self-restraint, are 2 such forces that drive the plot.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Spring Snow" is unquestionably one of the finest Japanese novels ever written, as well as being a masterpiece of world literature in its own right. It is an eloquent, moving story with a "tale as old as time," that of star-crossed lovers who's love transcends social roles and obligations.

In another culture, with another writer, this would be a romantic, if not happy, story. But this is Japan, and the writer is Mishima Yukio. In his hands, the lovers Kiyoaki and Satoko transcend literary stereotypes, and become agents of their own happiness and destruction. By the very nature of their relationship, raised together since childhood, playing a complicated cat-and-mouse game of love and sexual tension, their future is never in doubt.

It is impressive that a writer such as Mishima, known for his right-wing politics and his samurai dreams, could craft such a tender love story. While knowing the eventual conclusion, the reader savors and hopes for each stolen moment of happiness between Kiyoaki and Satoko, and knows that even their despair is something to be treasured because it is shared. Not that it is a clear path. Even knowing Japanese literature, and the road it usually takes, there are surprises on the way. Things do not turn out the way one would expect.

I was incredibly moved by "Spring Snow." It is a novel that affects the heart of the reader, and lingers long after the last page is turned.
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