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Spring Snow (The Sea of Fertility Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Yukio Mishima
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

Tokyo, 1912. The closed world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders - rich provincial families, a new and powerful political and social elite.



Kiyoaki 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, and his feelings for the exquisite, spirited Satoko, observed from the sidelines by his devoted friend Honda. When Satoko is engaged to a royal prince, Kiyoaki realises the magnitude of his passion.


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Review

"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

Book Description

The first novel in Mishima's masterful Sea of Fertility tetraology

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1294 KB
  • Print Length: 399 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679722416
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (23 Feb. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003ATPQ98
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,838 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Briefly, the Sea of Fertility tetrology has much in common with Dostoevsky. Mishima's characters act within the tight confines of aristoocratic Japan in the early to mid 20th Century. However, the real story underneath the cultural one involves a brilliant and sustained discussion of the Budhist conceptions of samsara, karma and reincarnation. Mishima's investigation of this subject covers Hindu, ancient Greek, 19th Century German and countless schools of Budhism.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Just after author Yukio Mishima finished the final novel in his "Sea of Fertility" tetralogy on November 25, 1970, he disemboweled himself in a ritual suicide--seppuku. Mishima, aged forty-five, believed whole-heartedly in the strengths of the old Japanese emperors and in the strong, aristocratic culture that had evolved from the samurai. Spring Snow, written in 1966, is the first of the four novels of what is generally regarded as his masterpiece, a series which explores the essence of life, the spiritual beliefs which make that life meaningful, the obligations of man to a wider society, the relationship of chance to free will, and the glory of dying for one's beliefs. By using a historical approach, with each of these novels taking place later than the previous one, and by repeating his characters, Mishima allows the reader to see Japanese cultural and social history change over a fifty-year period.

Spring Snow begins in 1912. The Meiji dynasty has ended, and Kiyoake Matsugae is a schoolboy at the exclusive, but rigidly spartan, Peers School. By age fifteen, Kiyoake, schooled in courtly manners, appears ready to make his mark within the court. He does, however, hate the militant atmosphere and prefers a more artistic, emotional life. Satoko Ayakura, two years older, is the daughter of the family where Kiyoake grew up, and when he begins to have romantic feelings for her, he is caught in the philosophical no-man's-land between the harshly rigid values of his school (and much of his culture) and his own feelings of need for warmth and communication. Though she is also attracted to him, he refuses to admit that he needs anyone or anything to be a man, and he alternately encourages and rejects any future relationship.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, moving, delicate, and unforgettable. 10 July 1997
By A Customer
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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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mishima's most perfect novel 28 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
While the last three books of Mishima's Sea of Fertility cycle tend to get bogged down in somewhat convoluted philosophical arguments, which may hold interest for some (Temple of Dawn), or by uninspired writing (Runaway Horses), Spring Snow, the first, displays no such weakness. It is a novel of immensely beautiful imagery and lyricism and overall perfection. What's more, this translation truly does justice to the beauty of the original Japanese.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spring rebirth (9/10) 27 Jun. 2008
Format:Paperback
Spring Snow is a 1966 novel by Yukio Mishima, the first in his Sea of Fertility tetralogy that concerns itself principally with themes of love, death and reincarnation. It's an evocative and at times philisophical novel, rendered into English with the apparently painstaking care and meticulous spirit in which is written. The translator has done an incredible job delivering Mishima's highly disciplined descriptive style in English, which is deeply rooted in Japanese aesthetic traditions. In reading Spring Snow we are priviledged access to the seemingly impenetratable Japanese spiritual identity - and the unique visual grammar so deeply entwined with it - in a way that a weaker translation might have failed to do. Some of the descriptive passages in particular are so vivid and evocative (and often cinematic) that is hard to believe that we are reading anything but the authentic voice of the author.

While some of the philosophical ruminations, most often delivered as dialogue, leave me cold - it seems too overt when compared to the novel's subtler explorations, especially those in the realm of aesthetics - the principal storyline is devestatingly emotive. While some readers might find Mishima's style a little too self-conscious, too disciplined, others (like myself) may find themselves sucked into the intense seasonal imagery, as richly coloured as it is tactile. The quote on the back of the book compares Mishima's prose to the perfectionism of a Japanese garden, and while this may seem like lazy cultural stereotyping, it is hard to disagree. Mishima's writing is highly stylised, yes, but with a taut symmetry rooted in the cyclical nature of Japanese spiritual and aesthetic traditions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A fabulous book ! B F-P
Published 25 days ago by B F-P
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good service
Published 5 months ago by PhilBe
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Great book, excellently written and excellently translated meaning it still has the same effect to an English reader it obviously has in Japan.
Published 9 months ago by James Warner Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Images fresher than ever
Some 20 years after my first read, it wasn't so surprising how many of the salient images I could still vividly recall. Read more
Published on 14 Oct. 2011 by Fionnbharr Ua Duinnín
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic love story
This isn't just a story. It is obvious from the first ripples that this book is quite introspective and illuminates Mishima himself. Read more
Published on 15 Sept. 2011 by Discerning
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicate and haunting
This book from Mishima is a beautiful meditation on the meaning of love and the folly of youth. The prose, as is the case for much Japanese writing, has a delicate touch and... Read more
Published on 7 Oct. 2009 by David K. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chillingly Beautiful Novel
Spring Snow tell's the tale of the brief, yet chillingly beautiful romance between Kiyoaki and Satoko. Read more
Published on 16 Jun. 2004 by MelanieBlack
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chillingly Beautiful Novel
Spring Snow tell's the tale of the brief, yet chillingly beautiful romance between Kiyoaki and Satoko. Read more
Published on 16 Jun. 2004 by MelanieBlack
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to Mishima
Though a part of the sea of fertility, Spring Snow is a self contained novel. It is a love story that is likely to appeal to men and women. Read more
Published on 23 July 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting: it makes you want more
Perhaps I shouldn't review this book in light of the fact that I haven't read the whole tetralogy. However, after reading 'Spring Snow' I'm trying to plow through 'Runaway Horses'... Read more
Published on 17 May 1999
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