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VINE VOICEon July 20, 2009
Yukio Mishima's "Spring Snow" is inevitably compared to a Japanese garden, a reference perhaps to the delicacy of the descriptions of the novel's various settings or to the way it evokes the personal beauty of the protagonist and his lover. The love story of "Spring Snow" also is often compared to "Romeo and Juliet" in reference to the youth and heedlessness of the two lovers, Kioyaki Matsugae and Satoko Ayakura, as well as to the nurse-figure, Tadeshina, who acts as a go-between. If you have never read a novel by Mishima, however, these comparisons are not especially helpful and don't convey the feeling you'll have when you read "Spring Snow": that a world has opened to view that is so different that you can only admire it and understand it as best you can.

Since the novel is set in a particular historical period, the early Taisho era, at least a cursory knowledge of modern Japanese history is extremely helpful in understanding the tensions in the society of this period between traditional Japanese culture and the powerful forces of Westernization. (A good short history of this period is Ian Buruma's "Inventing Japan: 1853-1964.") "Spring Snow" is a historical novel, one that is as distant to a Japanese reader as it is to an American reader, and in the contrast between the characters of Marquis Matsugae, Kioyaki's pompous and rather dissolute father, and the Marquis's old mother, whose toughness and humble origins have not entirely been smoothed away by prosperity, one senses Mishima's interest in an age that was disappearing at the time of the novel's setting: 1912. I use the word "interest" rather than "nostalgia," because the other character who recalls an earlier age, Satoko's father, Count Ayakura, is so genteel, so utterly unconnected to the modern world around him, that he invites contempt. I enjoyed this novel very much (and am looking forward to reading the other novels in the "Sea of Fertility" tetralogy). However, I want to stress once more that a basic familiarity with Japanese history and places is enormously helpful and will increase your pleasure in this novel.
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on September 26, 2017
I read this quartet several years ago and this book is my favorite. It is quite poetic and evokes wonderful visual imagery.
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on February 5, 2013
I purchased this as 'used, hard cover' A real nice copy of this excellent Mishima book. Well packed, quick shipment, more than fair price.

This is a love story with epic proportion, a story of tragic love. Spring Snow deals with romantic ideals. Kiyoaki, the main character, is proud, haughty and often childish - his life is one of privileged which is rapidly becoming more and more in question as pre WW II Japan emerges to a modern nation. The love which he works so hard to deny eventually consumes him. Along the way Kioaku tests friendships, his family, and the traditions which, in part, form him.
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VINE VOICEon February 17, 2009
When I was halfway through this book, I ordered the other three in the series!

I have struggled to describe why I liked this so much. There is no radical writing style. There were few characters I actually liked. The story has been told by others many times. Though the setting is in the Japan of a hundred years ago, I have read Oriental and historical fiction many times.

I think it boils down to this: the style, plot, setting and characters have a subtlety that pulls you into the story. Though detailed descriptions are sparse, I could "see" events taking place. Mishima didn't use a hammer - he whacked me with a feather - but it left a lasting impression. I'm ready for more!
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on August 17, 2016
Beautifully written. Complex characters. A fascinating look at the customs and mores of Turn-of-the-century Japan.Maybe a little slow. But you can't understand the ending of the last book in the series without reading this. Each book gets better.
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on December 8, 2016
I am writing the review per my daughter's review.

She really loved the book. She did say that, because it's translated, there were some concepts lost in translation.
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on October 20, 2000
I read this book after a friend's strong recommendation. Overall this book is beautifully written and absolutely captivating. The central plot on its own for this first book in the tetralogy is not something that we have never seen or heard before, but Mishima is unparalleled when it comes to his unique style in detailed character development. Though slow moving at first, by 1/2 way through the book, you are completely immensed in the world he so delicately paints. I find myself thumb a few section of the book over and over to truely get the multiple meanings Mishima is trying to convey. Aside from great character development, the book is FILLED with facts and descriptions of the different flavors of Buddhism, Japanese history during the 1920s and tons of other subjects (reincarnation etc), which makes the reading experience all that more complete. I am moving onto the 2nd book in the tetralogy, as for the ending of this book left many questions unanswered. I have a feeling Mishima was in a bit of rush towards the end, hence I am hoping to get a more complete picture of the author's thoughts after completing the whole tetralogy. This is not to say this book doesn't stand on its own, but I am sure when viewed as part of the tetralogy, it has more meaning than just a love tragedy. Spring Snow is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you are a true fan of fine literature and Japanese culture, this book will be at the top of your list as well.
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on November 11, 2013
The four-part Sea of Fertility is one of the most ambitious literary projects ever undertaken. And it comes off. Spring Snow is up there with Runaway Horses as equal best of the four. It provides tremendous cultural and historical insights as well as wrestling with issues of motivation and purpose in Mishima's crystalline prose. He thought he should have won the Nobel Prize. I do too.
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on January 29, 2014
I adore this book. I knew it was great before I was halfway through. Even if you haven't read Mishima before, do consider giving this a whirl. The Kindle version of this book is great too. There is good spacing; chapters are well divided and the font size is good. Honestly, I can't recommend this enough.
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on November 28, 2016
I had to read for a class. I enjoyed the book and I started reading the second book of the series.
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