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Runaway Horses (The Sea of Fertility) Paperback – 11 Mar 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (3 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099282895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099282891
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"In Runaway Horses Mishima writes of a desire to destroy or subvert beauty at its height, thus strengthening its appeal and preventing its slow decay" (New York Times)

"One of the great writers of the twentieth century" (Los Angeles Times)

"Mishima's novels exude a monstrous and compulsive weirdness, and seem to take place in a kind of purgatory for the depraved" (Angela Carter)

"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 succeeded, unlike any other writer before him, in creating a glittering alloy of Eastern and Western traditions, classical and contemporary forms" (New York Times)

Book Description

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

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Format: Paperback
(4.5 stars) Runaway Horses (1969), the second in the Sea of Fertility tetralogy, continues the characters introduced in Spring Snow into 1932 - 1933, a time in which Japan is beset with enormous internal problems - the economy and rural poverty, the corruption of politicians, the rise of communism, the cutbacks in the army, and in foreign affairs. Many incidents of political violence have taken place, including the assassination of the Finance Minister, and on May 15, 1932, the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai himself, by eleven Navy officers.

As the novel opens, Shigekuni Honda, a main character in Spring Snow, now a judge in the Osaka Court of Appeals, has reached the age of thirty-eight, a man leading a quiet life of reason who believes that his youth ended with the death of his friend Kiyoaki Matsugae, eighteen years ago. When he is asked to substitute for his Chief Justice at a kendo exhibition in Nara, some distance away, he accepts. The star of the exhibition is young Isao Iinuma, the nineteen-year-old son of Kiyoaki's tutor during their childhood. Later, after climbing Mount Miwa, Honda performs a purification ritual in a waterfall and sees, once again, young Isao. This time he is stunned to notice a pattern of three moles under Isao's arm. His friend Kiyoaki had exactly the same pattern of moles, and had insisted on his deathbed that "I will see you again." Honda, who has always grounded his life in reason, now believes that Isao is the confident samurai reincarnation of Kiyoaki.

At the Saigusa Festival of Wild Lilies, Isao gives Honda a copy of a book which is a prized possession: The League of the Divine Wind, by Yamao Tsunenori, which rails against making Japan a republic and insists that all foreign influences be eliminated from Japan.
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Format: Paperback
For a student of the Mishima phenomenon, the second volume in his tetralogy is interesting in the extreme. The protagonist of "Spring Snow", Kiyoaki Matsugae, is reincarnated as the son of his tutor, Iinuma. The young Isao is the converse of the effete, introspective Kiyoaki. He is consumed by a ferocious, impatient physicality which finds expression in kendo and in his devotion to ultra right-wing patriotism. Isao comes to the notice of Prince Toin, a member of the imperial family, and of a hot-headed army officer who, for a while at least, goes along with the naive dream of a kamikaze coup: for Isao's ambition is to see the Emperor restored as the spiritual leader of a martial Japan.
Isao's idealism is rendered in intense, homoerotic detail. He is perhaps what Mishima most yearned to be -- an anti-intellectual, motivated by love of the Emperor. Above all, Isao dies young. His suicide is a compressed version of that of the young soldier in Mishima's short story (or, rather, masturbation fantasy), "Patriotism", a lascivious account of seppuku.
Mishima's version of Japan in the 1930s reads suspiciously like the turbulent, westernizing sixties, during which he assembled his corps of fascist dimwits and body-builders. This private army had less to do with politics than the author's own, increasingly deranged, exhibitionism: culminating, of course, in his bizarre and very public demise.
Even if Mishima was not someone you might care to have as a neighbour, he was indisputably a terrific writer. He understood perfectly that imagination lies in the detail.
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Format: Paperback
This is my favourite book ... not just of those produced by Mishima , but of all authors . As a Westerner , I can only guess as to the workings of the great man's mind , but to me , I humbly submit that in both this title , and the excellent " Forbidden Colours " , there is the baring of a haunted man's soul , and fantasy ... his disgust with himself at being born too late , for which he never forgave himself . The story stripped down to its most basic premise , is almost one of " if you want something doing , then you must do it yourself " , whatever the obstacles ... the story exposes the chasm between the rhetoric of revolution , and the actions required to actually accomplish it . Isao is betrayed by all of those who purport to , and maybe do , love him ... but honour and truth are causes beyond simple human emotions . If you are not moved by the account of the exploits of the " League of the Divine Wind " , then you are , or might as well be , already dead . I can only hope that any other reader draws at least a fraction of the inspiration that this book has given me ... or , in truth , burdened me with . Please read it ...
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