The Sea of Fertility

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Spring Snow

Read 14/02/2015-22/02/2015

Rating: 4 stars

LibraryThing review

Runaway Horses

Read 22/02/2015-28/02/2015

Rating: 3 stars

The Temple of Dawn

Read 15/04/2015-19/04/2015

Rating: 3 stars

LibraryThing review

The Decay of the Angel

Read 29/07/2015

Rating: 2 stars

LibraryThing review

Reading Yukio Mishima’s Sea of Fertility tetralogy was a big undertaking. I started off trying to read each one consecutively, but after Runaway Horses it was too much, too depressing. It isn’t the most edifying of book series I’ve ever read. As someone who loves Japan and is intrigued by Japanese history and culture, though, I wanted to read it. Mishima is, for me, the dark to Sōseki’s light. I felt like I needed to hear from someone whose political viewpoint is anathema to me, especially as Japan, like Britain, seems to be growing more conservative in the face of economic contraction. I wanted to see whether Mishima’s perspective was valid.

22 February 2015

I feel deeply moved by the sadness of Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow. The sadness of the doomed love affair, and the sadness of the loss of an old, courtly way of living in favour of the Western idea of modernity. I felt very involved with the two young lovers. It’s the third book I’ve read by Mishima. Each one has been different. I like that.

28 February 2015

Maybe it’s because the world we currently live in is full of disaffected youths searching for meaning and, in some cases, willing to die or to kill to create that meaning, and a place where disaffected adults turn to fascist viewpoints to assuage their sense of injustice, but I found Runaway Horses very depressing. It lowered my mood all week. It is beautifully written and an interesting window into Japanese society and politics in the 1930s, but it’s not at all a joyful read. Reading about ultra rightwing teenagers in 1930s Japan who are obsessed with their own brand of moral purity, to the extent that they would commit suicide, against a backdrop of current affairs that include Islamic fundamentalism, Russian imperialism, political nationalism in the UK, and the right to bear arms gone mad in the US was hard.

I think I know where David Mitchell got his reincarnation idea from for the Ghostwritten/number9dream/Cloud Atlas story arcs, though.
19 April 2015
I thought Temple of Dawn was an improvement on Runaway Horses, but not quite as good as Spring Snow. Honda made me think of Don Draper. He seems to be following a similar path as he ages through the novels. Of course, Don Draper believes in a different kind of reincarnation, but both characters seem to stand aside from what’s going on around them in order to follow their own desires, whether that’s good or bad.
29 July 2015
Not the most satisfying book in the series, but I’m glad to have completed the tetralogy. It only took me a day, and it didn’t feel like it added anything to what had gone before. Mishima seemed to be in a hurry to tie up loose ends. Perhaps he’d had enough of the story, too, or was just anxious to commit seppuku. Is that poor taste? His choice to die a public and symbolically ritualistic death, though.

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