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The Temple of Dawn: The Sea of Fertility, 3 (Vintage International) Kindle Edition

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Length: 345 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


“Surpassingly chilling, subtle and original.”
The New York Times
“[Mishima’s] Sea of Fertility tetralogy. . . shines ever more obviously as one of the great works of the last century.”
—William Vollman

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation)

Product Details

  • File Size: 2985 KB
  • Print Length: 345 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679722424
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Publication Date: April 9, 2013
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C0ALYB2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,798 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Angry Mofo on October 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Now here's one of those books which one tries to review, but can only come up with disembodied cries and wild gesticulations due to sheer awe when one sits down to do it. I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical when approaching this: Runaway Horses, the second novel in the Sea of Fertility cycle, seemed to me to be a kind of regression after the incredibly beautiful Spring Snow. But now it occurs to me that I very well may have treated it unfairly, since I've read The Temple of Dawn and was blown away all over again.
I'll grant you, this is a more difficult read than Spring Snow, which is probably why people don't talk about it as much. Why so? Well, first of all, it's split into parts. The first part isn't very heavy on plot - most of it is comprised of Mishima explaining various aspects of Buddhism. You might not be too keen on this; I wasn't, and frankly I don't think Mishima was either - it's a bit too dry to have been written by someone who was passionate about the subject. If this turns you off, however, I advise you to persevere - the ending will make it more than worth it.
Secondly, there's an abrupt shift in focus. The first two books centered around their young protagonists Kiyoaki and Isao; Shigekuni Honda was present in both as a sort of way to link the two, but was often out of the picture. Further, both of those books seemed to paint a broader picture of Japan, if the depictions of court intrigue in Spring Snow and conspiracy organization in Runaway Horses are any indication. Indeed, both of those books reflect just how well Mishima could understand the world when he had a mind to. The Temple of Dawn, however, takes a new course that is then followed all the way to the end of The Sea of Fertility - it takes place almost entirely in Honda's head.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
This was the first novel I read in the Sea of Fertility tetrology, and though I have finished the series, this still remains my favorite one. Few other novels I have read, not just in the series but other books in general, have been as shocking or deeply moving.
The main character's quest for enlightenment and search for truth culminate into a disastrous obsession with a young lady. His fixation on her youth and beauty are compared to his own tired and aging body, and that of his unhappy wife.
Deeper than other novels, he pursues the link between people beyond death. If someone is reborn, are they forced to replay their fate again and again? Is this the fate of mankind, or is the protagonist simply unable to accept the death of someone he loved? He is searching in this novel, searching for lost love and friendship, and searching for his own soul. The dialogue in the novel on Buddhism is somewhat dry and scholarly, but the this fits in with the dryness and objective view the narrator feels towards the world in general.
Mishima manages to connect eroticism, reincarnation, post-war Japan skepticism, beauty and death into a work of art. I highly recommend this novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alex Frantz on July 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
This was, for me, the weakest of the three Sea of Fertility novels I have read. One problem has been commented on by almost every reviewer: the theme of the overall work is reincarnation. But traditional Buddhist philosophy regard the soul, and even the self, as illusions. If this is so, then what is it that is reincarnated? A long and complex essay on this takes up far too much of the novel and probably could be understood only by a reader with extensive previous knowledge of Buddhist philosophy.

A more subtle problem is that this book seems to lack the compassion of the earlier volumes. Part of this is the treatment of Honda himself, and perhaps a natural reflection of the fact that Honda, in the timeline of the overall work, is becoming an old man, combined with Mishima's own horror of old age that influenced his suicide a few years after this book was written. Certainly the contrast between the fading age of Honda and this novel's reincarnation of Kiyoaki, a beautiful young Thai princess, is made frequently and rather heavy-handedly. But in other cases Misihima's cruelty seens clearly gratuitous, particularly the case of a pseudo-intellectual and a would-be poetess who are brought in as characters almost solely so that Mishima can mock them before killing them off. This whole subplot struck me as entirely unworthy of Mishima.

Mishima was a genius, though, and there is much in this book that is impressive, fully equal to the brilliance of the two prequels. The dramatic ending has been justly praised by other reviewers. The recent history of Japan is a major focus of the tetralogy, and the descriptions in this story of Tokyo in ruins during and just after the war are harrowing. And the portrayal of Honda's marriage with Rie, two people who have spent their lives together and are growing old together, tied to each other by familiarity and social custom, yet never really united by love, is poignant and remarkable.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the third installment of the SEA OF FERTILITY tetralogy.
Seeing the development of Honda's life throughout the "Sea of Fertility" series has been a fascinating journey that I'm sure will be taken to extreme in part IV (The Decay of the Angel.) Knowing a bit about Mishima's biography is particularly helpful in understanding his works (more so than with many other authors.)
As Honda (who is the link in all the books) gets older, he gets jaded and disenchanted with life, he get's wrapped up in sexual fantasy with a girl over 30 years younger, ignores his wife, and is still searching for some sort of religious truth in Buddhism, although his outlook becomes more nihilistic all the time.
This is a good story, although not as good as "Spring Snow" or "Runaway Horses." The writing is a bit more clouded than before...but its probably because there's a different translater in this volume. "Spring Snow" and "Runaway Horses" were both translated by Michael Gallagher who did a brilliant job. This volume uses two translators and the words just don't flow as well...its more awkward. (By the way I'm reading the series put out on Vintage International.)
In addition to just being a wonderful piece of fiction, its interesting to see how the characters reflect different aspects of 20th century Japanese society, and the conflicts that arise when a nation embraces aspects of different cultures and straddles two distinctly different ideaologies.
I strongly recommend reading the book if you've read the previous two, because Honda's character is ever evolving and Mishima is a grand storyteller, but I can't rate this one as high due to the sometimes dry translation.
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