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Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima

Spring Snow

by Yukio Mishima

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Sea of Fertility (1)

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English (24)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Jefferson's first day of school was a Wednesday, and I of course had a brain meltdown and barely got us out the door in time, so certainly didn't have a lunch packed or a book to read while I hung out in Mecosta and waited for time to pick him up. Plus, on Wednesdays, the library doesn't open until 1:0o (preschool starts at 11:30), but happily the used bookstore was open.

Spring Snow was the first book to catch my eye on entering the store. I suspected at the time and have since confirmed that it sounded so familiar because it was on Bookslut's top 100 books of the 20th century list. And I'm happy to say after reading it I feel it definitely deserves its spot on that list. I loved this book from beginning to end.

Set in early 20th century Japan, this story plays out against a backdrop of a country in flux -- where families with money and families with rank have access to different kinds of power. Where old world elegance clashes with those emulating the tastes and values of the west.

In addition to this intriguing glance into a foreign culture, are the more familiar forms of a young man's coming of age and the tragic tale of a forbidden romance. But almost all of these things seem secondary to the languid, hypnotizing style with which the story is told. One never stops to wonder how the recitation of a dream or a religious discussion or a rumination on law moves the story forward, because every word just seems to draw the reader further into the dream that is this book.

I can hardly recommend this book highly enough. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Spring Snow
Series: Sea of Fertility #1
Author: Yukio Mishima
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Japanese Lit
Pages: 399
Format: Digital Edition


Kiyoaki, son of a wealthy samurai family, has been raised in the Ayakura household. The Ayakuras are an ancient royal family and the Matsugae's hope that some of the Ayakura's polish will rub off on Kiyoaki.

The Ayakura's have a daughter who is in love with Kiyoaki. However, Kiyoaki is the forerunner of the emo-goths and so self-absorbed that he ignores or repels anything having to do with anyone else. He rejects Satoko's love and she is then affianced to a direct descendant of the Emperor.

Kiyoaki loses it, starts a torrid affair with Satoko without thinking about any of the consequences. Satoko becomes pregnant, is forced to abort the baby and in response joins a nunnery. Kiyoaki refuses to believe that Satoko would spurn him and in the process of trying to get her attention, catches pneunomia and dies.

My Thoughts:

Ugh. And that pretty much sums up every single feeling I had about this book. It was “Literature” with a Capital L.

It was beautifully written and the translator did a fantastic job of keeping that beauty intact. However, nothing could disguise the pathetic, childish, self-centered, disgusting character of the main character. Kiyoaki was a typical young man but without getting any of his sharp corners ground down by his parents or his friends. So at the end, he cracks and breaks.

This was reading about the worst of people, just because the author felt like writing it. In the introduction, by the publishers, they give a little history of the author. He killed himself at the age of 45. If his mindset continued like this book, it's no wonder.

This was supposed to be a tetralogy, but I'm not sure how this can be a series since the main character dies. From the tone of the book, I'd guess that the series is all tied together by some esoteric “Idea”. Ugh. Again. I will NOT be reading any more by Mishima.

★★☆☆☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Sep 25, 2017 |
A heartwrenching coming-of-age story that is so beautiful, so sincere ( )
  MetropolitanBlues | Oct 28, 2015 |
The rites of passage for a Japanese boy on the cusp of manhood provide the basis for this story, with its focus and style laying bare the discomforting philosophy and ideology of the author. Narcissism and the cult of the self manifest in the highly unlikeable protagonist Kiyoaki who has, until threatened by a rival suitor, built a worldview around his own aesthetic perfection and inevitability of marrying a beautiful childhood friend Sakoto. His devoted schoolfriend Honda is painted in stark contrast: selfless, intellectual yet capable of fun, unlikely the melancholy, introspective and beautiful Kiyaoki.

Although superficially it is firmly placed in time, location and culture very different to anything recognisably 'Western', the story of betrothal, protocol, the anxiety of the upper classes, military prestige, banishment of shamefully unchaste society girls to life of religious servitude and an imperial house redefining itself in a modern context are actually very familiar themes of classic European literature. The author's attention to male aesthetics is telling of his own obsession with physique, sexual predisposition and attachment to the honour codes of Japan: he was a bodybuilder with male lovers who made good on his promise to ritually kill himself once his writing work was done.

The novel is a fascinating insight into a personal, if not national philosophy, often distasteful, often poetic and beautiful, built around a simple story of love thwarted by society norms, albeit love of self being the ultimately destructive force here. However the author's prejudices and obsessions ultimately damage this as a work of literature. ( )
  zchat04 | Oct 10, 2015 |
I didn't know what to expect with this book. It turned out to be beautiful and sad. Set at the transition from Meiji to Taisho, with Japan still a contradiction of feudal tradition and modernity, it explores the love affair of two aristocratic young adults and the consequences of forbidden love. The observance of social niceties contrasts with the passionate yearning for freedom, with the way of life of the old guard slowly giving way to the Westernised ways of the new rich. As much as it's a commentary on society, though, it's an old fashioned love story in the mould of Abelard and Héloise or Romeo and Juliet. Mishima's prose is delicately elegant. I was carried along effortlessly by it. ( )
1 vote missizicks | Feb 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
"a work of brilliant historical coloring and erotic introspection"
added by GYKM | editNew York Times, Alan Friedman (May 12, 1974)
"we read 'Spring Snow' for its marvelous incidentals, graphic and philosophic, and for its scene-gazing"
"The point here is that Mishima seems to share many Western illusions about not only Japan, but all of Asia" [...] "an unconvincing movie scenario portrait of Japan in the 1910s" [...] "Mishima's diction is self-consciously intellectual; his prose is filled with words drawn from the whole history of the Japanese language used in an effort to enrich the texture of his diction" [...] "However the translation we are offered of the first two volumes is in quite pedestrian English."
A novel with the perfect beauty of a Japanese garden... a classic of Japanese literature.
added by GYKM | editChicago Sun-Times

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yukio Mishimaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blaauw, Gerrit deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallagher, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shimizu, YukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
When conversation at school turned to the Russo-Japanese war, Kiyoake Matsugae asked his closest friend, Shigekuni Honda, how much he could remember about it.
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
una domenica tranquilla, pacifica e fausta, eppure Kiyoaki aveva
l’impressione di udire il rumore che le gocce del tempo producevano
filtrando dal forellino da sempre aperto sul fondo del mondo simile a un
otre colmo d’acqua.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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See visuals and brief background to at: http://www.practise.co.uk/work/archiv...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679722416, Paperback)

The first novel of Mishima's landmark tetralogy, The Sea of fertility

Spring Snow is set in Tokyo in 1912, when the hermetic world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders -- rich provincial families unburdened by tradition, whose money and vitality make them formidable contenders for social and political power.

Among this rising new elite are the ambitious Matsugae, whose son has been raised in a family of the waning aristocracy, the elegant and attenuated Ayakura. Coming of age, he is caught up in the tensions between old and new -- fiercely loving and hating the exquisite, spirited Ayakura Satoko. He suffers in psychic paralysis until the shock of her engagement to a royal prince shows him the magnitude of his passion, and leads to a love affair that is as doomed as it was inevitable.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Kiyoaki Matsugae's passionate and ill-fated love for the betrothed daughter of a Tokyo aristocrat brings him into disfavor at the Imperial Court.

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