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'