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La corrupcion de un angel. El mar de la…

La corrupcion de un angel. El mar de la fertilidad, 4 (BIBLIOTECA MISHIMA)… (edition 2006)

by Mishima, Yukio

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646914,945 (3.77)1 / 36
Title:La corrupcion de un angel. El mar de la fertilidad, 4 (BIBLIOTECA MISHIMA) (Spanish Edition)
Other authors:Yukio
Info:Alianza (2006), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Decay of the Angel by Yukio Mishima


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English (8)  Spanish (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I'm sad to say that Yukio Mishima's tetralogy "The Sea of Fertility" started out brilliantly but then fizzled in the later books. I can say the fourth and final book "The Decay of the Angel" was at lest better than the dismal third book.

This time Honda has found a 16-year-old boy he believes is his reincarnated friend Kiyo. He adopts him as his heir with disastrous results.

I honestly just didn't really enjoy this story or find it particularly interesting. It picked up steam in the last few dozen pages but the first half the book just felt long and tedious. ( )
  amerynth | Dec 1, 2013 |
Mishima started this book after he'd already resolved on suicide. Spiritual desolation pervades its every cranny and squeezes perversity out of everyone who enters its pages. Being is filth, the author has seemingly resolved, and filth is sacred, and the profane cleanliness of Japan will never save him from himself when there is a deeper cleanliness of non-being to draw him inevitably forward. Japan was supposed to save him from himself, but the unbearable aridity of Japaneseness ends up being his pretext for reducing the symphony of growing emotion and power that he's been building since book one to cacophony and then silence. I don't think he wanted to be a samurai at all. I think he wanted to be Jean Genet, a sexy bodhisattva. But his Japaneseness made that impossible: decay ever, fruition never.

Enough psychologizing! Most of this is the story of the sick interaction between a dark vampire of a man and the spirit of malevolence he adopts as a son. The scene where the old people watch Toru and Momoko on the beach must be the most vampiric in all of literature. (Seidensticker as well as Mishima impresses here with his artistry.) Honda, that twisted Horatio, sees Toru disappoint his hopes (we shall avoid spoilers here), and evil briefly reigns. But a dramatic series of reverses follows--the black angel must decay as the benign ones do--the center shall not hold--and the dissolution of the self and the narrative that comes at the end is the most masterful act of self-devouring I've ever seen a work of fiction accomplish. Appropriately, this book relies for much of its power on the three previous volumes in the series, but that doesn't change the fact that by the end you could dissolve into oceanic nothing yourself with--not Kiyoaki's erotic ardour, or Isao's death-and-glory, or Ying Chan's almost absent-minded slipping out of the flesh, or Toru's botched, unintentional self-abnegation, or indeed Mishima's own devoutly wish'd and brutally forc'd consummation--but nothing more than an aesthete's shrug. "Perhaps then there has been no I." There is also Satoko, and Buddhism, and I think a real transendence that I don't know how to talk about, but certainly for Mishima there is foremost the relief of escape from a desiccated self and age. ( )
8 vote MeditationesMartini | Oct 18, 2013 |
This is really more like a 4 1/2 star novel..but of course Goodreads is a bit limiting at times. In any case, I was really intrigued when I found out that Mishima had committed ritual suicide after this one. There is a great deal more of depth and much less innocence than The Sound of Waves (had you not guessed that by the title, though? I mean, really!) There is also a great deal about the sea and waves in this one nonetheless and parallels with humans and angels. There is madness, delusions, youth, and aging..there is the idea of pure evil and it is quite vivid. But at the end, it's not completely clear how much we as a reader were also deceived and how to sort it all out...which I suppose just makes this novel even more interesting and one to fathom further in future readings.

I like the deeper novels that make you think..the ones rich with a sense of philosophy to ponder and make you wonder about your own beliefs as well. I think this is a great work but I wish that it was at least 100 more pages longer at a minimum to really develop the characters themselves even further. I think the novel at its strengths has some interesting story lines and in terms of the character development, there are some intriguing contrasts but I tend to want more like Dostoevsky would do, for instance. I like to feel like I have epically grown with the characters.

In any case, there are some amazing insights in this novel and it is one I am sure I will come back to as I grow older. The language itself, especially the imagery, is so very vivid that it will not easily be forgotten.

Favorite quotes:

pg 1" Three birds seemed to become one at the top of the sky. Then, in disorder, they separated. There was something wondrous about the meeting and separating. It must mean something, this coming so close that they felt the wind from each other's wings, and then blue distance once more. Three ideas will sometimes join in our hearts."

pg. 13-14 "There had to be a realm where at the limit of all the layers of clarity it was definite that nothing at all made an appearance. a realm of solid, definite indigo, where seeing cast of the shackles of consciousness and itself became transparent, where phenomena and consciousness dissolved like plumbic oxide in acetic acid."

pg 15 "The joy of seeing, where everything was self evident and given, lay only at the invisible horizon, far beyond the sea. Why need there by surprise? Despite the fact that deceit was delivered at every door every morning without fail, like the milk."

"perhaps, he sometimes thought, he was a hydrogen bomb equipped with consciousness. IT was clear in any case that he was not a human being."

pg. 24 "There was a wild restlessness in the long and short lights, as if in among the clusters of solid lights a single light were mad with joy. The voice calling out from afar over the dark sea was like the voice of a madwoman. A metal voice crying out sadly though not sad, pleading an agony of joy."

pg 33 "The voices of children were like splinters of lass. Toru liked to look at people as at animals in a zoo..."

pg 40 "It was like night in a zoo of emotions. Cries and laughter came from all the pens and all the cages."

pg 41 "Rainbows will soon be animals too, at this rate. Rainbow animals."

pg 43 "Sixty years had gone by, as an instant. Something came over him to drive away his consciousness of old age, a sort of pleading, as if he had buried his face in her warm bosom."

pg 55 "Honda said to himself: ' The moment I die they will all go' The thought came to him as a happy one, a sort of revenge. IT would be no trouble at all, tearing this world up by the roots and returning it to the void. All he had to do was die. He took a certain minor pride in the thought that an old man who would be forgotten still had in death this incomparably destructive weapon. For him the five signs of decay held no fear."

pg. 66 "And the watch, solitary in the field of white plastic, carrying on an intercourse almost sexual with the sea, through the day and through the night, intimidated by harbor and ship, until gazing became pure madness. The whiteness, the abandonment of the self, the uncertainty and loneliness were themselves a ship."

pg 87 "Yes. The waves as they broke were a manifest vision of death. It seemed to him that they had to be. They were mouths agape at the moment of death.

Gasping in agony, they trailed numberless threads of saliva. Each purple in the twilight became a livid mouth.

Into the gasping mouth of the sea plunged death. Showing death nakedly time and time again, the sea was like a constabulary. It swiftly disposed of the bodies, hiding them from public gaze."

pg. 101 "Among clouds like antique white clay images of warriors were some that suggested dragons twisting angrily and darkly upward. Some as they lost their shape, were tinged rose. "

pg. 113 'The world does not approve of flying. Wings are dangerous weapons. They invite self destruction before they can be used."

pg. 137 "The shadows were the substance. They had been eaten away by the shadows, by the deep melancholy of a concept. That was not life, thought Honda. It was something less easy to excuse."

pg. 143 "But of course the world feels secure when the monstrous is reality."

pg, 154 "I suppose that thus thus rolling in the dark a woman feels only the wheel that runs over her."

pg. 209-210 "Senility was a proper ailment of both the spirit and the flesh, and the fact that senility was an incurable disease meant that existence was an incurable disease. It was a disease unrelated to existentialist theories, the flesh itself being the disease, latent death.

History knew the truth. History was the most inhuman product of humanity.It scooped up the whole of human will and, like the goddess Kali in Calcutta, dripped blood from its mouth as it bit and crunched."

( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
Final volume of Sea of Fertility tetralogy. I cannot say anything more. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
(Two reviews in one.)

[The Decay of the Angel]

After I was done, I couldn't say that this was the best or even my favourite Mishima novel, but it is an interesting novel, one that is almost as good enough to stand by itself, and that possesses all the hallmarks of my favourite Mishima works. The novel was short and translated, but it was nonetheless filled with beautiful prose, brilliantly deep insight, fresh psychologically disturbed characters, dark humour and wit. My expectations ran high with this last installment that the story of Shigekuni Honda and the reincarnations of Kiyoaki Matsugae would be satisfactorily resolved. In the end, I was both disappointed and yet (satisfied), for while the ending was not what I had expected, it was a fitting ending appropriate for the Buddhist philosophical framework that Mishima utilized and arguably believed in.

There are many ways to try understand what the entire tetralogy tries to communicate. The thesis that I found most convincing was that this is the story of the transformation of Japan from the brilliance of its feudal era to the apocalyptic ruins of its modernity, threaded together by eternal Buddhist philosophy; glimpses of that most fleeting thread having being seen by poets, seers, sages, and, like Kiyoaki and Honda, the damned. Honda, the embodiment of the Japanese people, tries over a span of sixty years to save the reincarnation of his childhood friend, Kiyoaki, from karmic fate. He does this partially out of guilt, partially to save a part of his lost innocence or naiveté, and partially to rub his thumb into the eye of fate. However, fate thwarts him time and time again, even into his seventies and eighties when he is the physical embodiment of a rich but impotent, immoral, aimless, and socially alienated modern Japan that appalled Mishima.

While I don’t necessary agree with Mishima’s judgment on the fate of Japan in modernity, I understand his arguments, I’m awed by the stylistic means he used to present them—whether beautiful, intense, provocative, terrifying, and I find him persuasive.

If I could be allowed to read into the work, I believe that there are echoes from Mishima’s previous novels in The Decay of the Angel, echoes that serve it fittingly as his deliberate last testament. In a 1995 interview for [Suburu (available in English in the Spring 1996 issue of "Japan Echo" as "Mishima: The Man and the Mask")], Ishihara Shintaro, the controversial Governor of Tokyo and former Mishima friend, accused Mishima of unoriginally and lazily taking the basic plot for his 1951–53 novel Forbidden Colors, wherein an old man is tricked by a strange boy, and reworked it in The Decay of the Angel. While I did read slight shades of what Ishihara had argued in the English text, I didn’t agree with him. Mishima did not plagiarize himself in The Decay of the Angel. Sure, while he might have provided several examples of self-homage in the text, he created something new as he deconstructed those old characters, images, and themes to demonstrate the frailty and transience of human existence. For instance, I read the return of the old Japanese I-Novel genre, that was arguably exemplified by Mishima in Confessions of a Mask and in the sinister shadows of his early short stories, in Toru's diary. I read an at first silly but then truly disturbed variation of the Daphnis and Chloe myth, first explored by Mishima in The Sound of Waves, in the form of Toru and Kinue—who do end up together as impotent as Mishima saw Japan in the late-60s and -70s after several petty and purely psychological adventures. I also saw throughout the conflict between Honda and Toru, the desperate need for a young man to not only survive but to prove his existence in the face of both an existential and physical threat, which finds parallels in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Confessions, and in Forbidden Colors. Mishima didn't just rehash his old ideas, but he destroyed them in favour of a different, more timeless, and possibly more universal theme: the limitlessness and timelessness of the Buddhist universe.

I would like type that E. G. Seidensticker's already critically lauded translation of The Decay of the Angel is superb. It is tricky, but not impossible, to review translated works because of a concern about what has been lost in translation, especially from Japanese to English. Sometimes a translated text takes on the "voice" of its translator, as has been argued by many with the Constance Garnett translations of War and Peace. The problems with the translation of Japanese prose into English have included failed attempts to faithfully transmit emotions, socioeconomic class, but especially the wordplay, the double- and triple-entendres, and the humour particular to the Japanese language. One particular problem many translators of Mishima have encountered has been failed attempts to retain the acoustically pleasing (sounds) of reading Mishima's prose aloud in Japanese. Seidensticker doesn't fail English readers; in fact, he had given English readers one of the best translations of a Mishima work, if not the best. While a translation may necessarily be incomparable from the original, Seidensticker has retained more of Mishima's humour and wit, the same that Mishima was famous for in Japan when he was alive. He has also saved Mishima’s propensity for phenomenally descriptive prose—Mishima was said to have always used the right word for everything, whereas previous instalments of this tetralogy in English sometimes seemed bland and listless. Seidensticker's translation is never dull.

[The Sea of Fertility]

The Sea of Fertility is a brilliant but uneven at times epic; it can be dull, tedious as it can be humorous, but it's never awful or unreadable. Out of the four books, the Seidensticker translated The Decay of the Angel is the best and most readable in English. Seidensticker also retains more of Mishima's humour than Michael Gallagher. Reading the whole tetralogy took me a good part of a year, but with each installment I was even more encouraged to see it to the end. At the end I was left not with a sense of satisfaction, but I was slipped in Honda's shoes. Like him, I tasted, as he did, the sour grapes of age, the transience of human life, the endlessness of time, and of seeing karma run its miraculous course until it is disturbed, like a still pond or a unspoiled landscape, by human arrogance. Honda begins the tetralogy as a witness to history and karma, and he, and like Japan in Mishima's estimation, declines into a rich but helpless and impotent voyeur. Unfortunately, as a character, he, and possibly a hundred others, did not transcend in my eyes. However, Satoko Ayakura (did) transcend, and after 1,400 pages of sacrifice, mystery, twists and turns, she remained as interesting and inscrutable as her creator, Yukio Mishima.
1 vote GYKM | May 27, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
"a surpassingly chilling, subtle and original novel."
added by GYKM | editNew York Times, Alan Friedman (May 12, 1974)
"The outstanding weakness of this, the final novelistic effort of Mishima Yukio and indeed the major failing of the bulk of his work is its striking inability to rise above the emotional and intellectual limitations of its author." "He is a good writer with a well-developed sense of intrigue and suspense, but he is not a great writer." "Seidensticker's rendering of the final volume is superb and it is a pity that he could not have been persuaded to take on the whole tetralogy."

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yukio Mishimaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edward G. SeidenstickerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winter, Maxim deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The mists in the offing turned the distant ships black."
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Book description
The last instalment of Yukio Mishima's [The Sea of Fertility] tetralogy and the last piece of literature that he ever published, albeit posthumously. The title is a reference to the five signs of decay for a deva, or a mortal angel, as found in Buddhist scriptures. While Mishima did submit the final instalment of [The Decay of the Angel] to his publishers on November 25, 1970, the morning of his attempted coup and seppuku, John Nathan and others have stated that he had actually finished the entire tetralogy in August 1970, during a family vacation to Shimoda.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679722432, Paperback)

The dramatic climax of the SEA OF FERTILITY, bringing together the dominant themes of the three previous novels; the decay of Japan's courtly tradition and samurai ideal, and the essence and value of Buddhist philosophy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

During the last years of his life, Honda adopts an orphaned boy and teaches him about Japanese society and tradition.

(summary from another edition)

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