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@Read Pdf ó Spring Snow Ð Tokyo,The closed world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders rich provincial families, a new and powerful political and social eliteKiyoaki has been raised among the elegant Ayakura family members of the waning aristocracy but he is not one of them Coming of age, he is caught up in the tensions between the old and the new, and his feelings for the exquisite, spirited Satoko, observed from the sidelines by his devoted friend Honda When Satoko is engaged to a royal prince, Kiyoaki realises the magnitude of his passion Has there ever been a stranger novelist than Yukio Mishima On the one hand, he was a body building Nationalist, who advocated bushido, the samurai code he also, as many know, committed seppuku, which is a ritual form of suicide involving disembowelling and beheading You don t, it is fair to say, get that kind of thing with Julian Barnes and Karl Ove Knausgaard.On the other hand, Mishima was undeniably a cultured man, who spoke English and dressed in the English fashion he was a bisexual who Has there ever been a stranger novelist than Yukio Mishima On the one hand, he was a body building Nationalist, who advocated bushido, the samurai code he also, as many know, committed seppuku, which is a ritual form of suicide involving disembowelling and beheading You don t, it is fair to say, get that kind of thing with Julian Barnes and Karl Ove Knausgaard.On the other hand, Mishima was undeniably a cultured man, who spoke English and dressed in the English fashion he was a bisexual who acted in films and wrote plays as well as novels and short stories It is almost as though he embodied the conflict that of the traditional and reserved vs the modern and progressive that until very recently so dominated most of the great Japanese literature, and about which his own work, especially Spring Snow, is also concerned.In what is perhaps a nod to Murasaki Shikibu s monumental Tale of Genji, Spring Snow is primarily focussed on a preternaturally beautiful young man As with the shining prince, everyone who meets the central character, Kiyoaki Matsugae, is struck by his attractiveness and the awareness of his good looks and the effect it has on other people makes him somewhat spoiled and conceited Further, although he is the son of a nouveau riche couple, who dress in Western clothes, he was actually raised by a once prosperous aristocratic family, in order to ensure that he is well versed in traditional Japanese ways and has an elegant bearing This upbringing means that Kiyoaki is, in a sense, caught between two different eras he isn t fully a traditionalist he doesn t revere the Emperor, for example , nor is he entirely modern he is elegant, as his parents desired, but his elegance, and decadence, means that he is unfit for the modern world for instance, out of indolence he neglects his schooling.I imagine that it is clear already that my opinion of Kiyoaki is not especially positive He is not bad per se, but he is tremendously arrogant and self obsessed Of course, you could excuse some of his flaws on the basis of his age Kiyoaki is a teenager and so arrogance and self obsession are pretty much part of the deal, but, even so, the behaviour of most teenagers does not lead to the ruin of numerous people I should point out, however, that I do not think that the reader is meant to like him I believe that, as a product of two conflicting eras, or ways of life, the effete and ineffectual Kiyoaki is, for Mishima, a necessary failure as a human being For me, it is telling that his servant Iinuma, the one character whose attitude would have, I think, most closely resembled Mishima s own in terms of his feelings about loyalty, duty, etc , is disappointed in him, and even, at times, disgusted by him Iinuma looked down at his face, at the sensitive darting eyes with their long lashes the eyes of an otter and he knew that it was hopeless to expect him to swear the enthusiastic oaths of loyalty to the Emperor that a night like this would have invoked in any normal young Japanese boy Kiyoaki s eyes were now wide open as he lay on his back staring at the ceiling, and they were filled with tears And when this glistening gaze turned on him, Iinuma s distaste deepened As I read the novel for the second time, I was baffled by the popular opinion that it is a moving love story, or even the greatest of all love stories Yes, it details a troubled relationship between two young people the aforementioned Kiyoaki and the equally beautiful Satoko, the daughter of the noble family who raised the boy but it is a strange kind of love that continually rejects someone and then suddenly wants that person at the point at which it has become impossible to have them Perhaps Satoko does love Kiyoaki, but there is abundant evidence that the same is not true for the young man For example, the first thing he says to his friend Honda, when an ill looking Satoko is unresponsive towards him, is I don t think Satoko will sleep with me any Does that sound like love to you No, it sounds like someone who is a bit of a dick Don t get me wrong, I ve not always been a nice guy where girls are concerned, so you could say I m in no position to judge But on the basis of the principle of it takes one to know one I m calling Kiyoaki out.Moreover, although there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles to their relationship, I don t necessarily buy the star crossed lovers interpretation of the story because the couple, Kiyoaki in particular, cause their own problems and create those obstacles themselves Having said that, I guess you could argue that fate or destiny is also an obstacle to the couple s love, and this is certainly not something that Kiyoaki and Satoko can control As you may know, Spring Snow is part of a tetralogy called The Sea of Fertility Each book in the series deals with reincarnation and predestination In Spring Snow, the first volume, there are numerous hints and suggestions that what is happening, specifically to Kiyoaki, is, in a sense, meant to be For example, he keeps a dream journal, and one of his dreams involves Satoko clinging to his coffin there are repeated references to his demise, and a general sense of foreboding hangs over the novel There s no doubt that he s heading straight for tragedy I ve got to use every ounce of my strength to stop him fulfilling his destiny In this way, Satoko and Kiyoaki s relationship is tragic, because they never had a chance However, if you want to appeal to predestination then you can t really talk about Kiyoaki at all, because without free will he becomes a non entity As a reviewer, in order for discussion to be possible, I want to take him on face value.One may ask then, if Kiyoaki is so unpleasant, and Spring Snow is not the tragic or tear jerking tale of adolescent love it is billed as, why should you read the book Well, first of all, it is always engrossing whether one sympathises with Satoko and Kiyoaki or not, one is, crucially, still interested in their fate Further, although the narrative isn t exactly full of high octane action, Mishima, unlike many of the other historically important Japanese novelists, does serve up a steady amount of excitement and surprise and tension In contrast, something like Tanizaki s acclaimed novel The Makioka Sisters may be wonderful, but it is at times interminably slow and uneventful I can t imagine that, when reading that book, there are people that have stayed up late into the night, desperate to reach the end of a chapter, so as to find out what happens next, but I can certainly see that being the case with Spring Snow.I wrote at the beginning of this review that Mishima to some extent embodied the conflict that he wrote about, that of the traditional and the modern ways of life what is most interesting about Spring Snow is that this conflict, this tension, is not only apparent thematically, it is in the style too So, while the prose is undeniably graceful, as you would expect from a great Japanese novel, it lacks simplicity indeed, Mishima s style, with its extended metaphors, extreme emoting, and psychological depth, is, I would say, closer to Western writers, like Flaubert, Proust, and Dostoevsky, than Kawabata or Tanizaki I would also argue that Mishima s characters are easier to understand and relate to for a Western audience again, one may not like their behaviour, or admire their motivations, but they arefamiliar to us Kiyoaki is a brat, for example, but we all have known brats Satoko is perhapsa mystery,like the enigmatic women you find in Kawabata, but even her actions can be viewed in terms of a young girl having the hots for a great looking guy.Yet for all that, the biggest selling point is just how beautiful Spring Snow is it really is breathtaking at times As with Flaubert s Madame Bovary, the prose is actually so beautiful that it is, in a sense, diverting, so that, like when in the company of a beautiful woman one becomes incapable of judging her behaviour, readers tend not to pick up on how unsavoury the behaviour of the characters actually is Also like Flaubert, Mishima s prose is sensual, and highly detailed In my review of Madame Bovary I called the Frenchman a hyperrealist, by which I mean he makes the real or ordinary seem extraordinary, and I would apply the same term to Mishima There are numerous passages in the text that one could highlight as evidence, but one that particularly struck me was Kiyoaki holding the train of the princess dress Beautiful, elegant, imposing, she was like a flower at the moment of its perfection Princess Kasuga s hair had the blackness and sheen of fine lacquer Seen from behind her elaborate coiffure seemed to dissolve into the rich white skin textures of the nape of her neck, leaving single strands against her bare shoulders whose faint sheen was set off by her d collet she held herself erect and walked ahead with a firm step, betraying no tremor to her trainbearers, but in Kiyoaki s eyes that great fan of white fur seemed to glow and fade to the sound of music, like the snow covered peak first hidden, then exposed by a fluid pattern of clouds I love that It isn t a one off either, Mishima throws this kind of stuff out by the page Mad, bad, and dangerous to know he may have been, but he was a wonderful, sensitive writer THE SEA OF FERTILITYVolume 2 Runaway Horses Mishima 1925 1970 was a classic Japanese author He was a fierce anti communist who led a band of rebels trying to restore the Emperor He committed ritual suicide when the plot failed His best known work is a tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility, of which this book is the first volume Class divisions and changing values in Japan due to western influence aree major themes The main character is the son of a very wealthy family How wealthy They have 40 servants and the boy doesn t know all their Mishima 1925 1970 was a classic Japanese author He was a fierce anti communist who led a band of rebels trying to restore the Emperor He committed ritual suicide when the plot failed His best known work is a tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility, of which this book is the first volume Class divisions and changing values in Japan due to western influence aree major themes The main character is the son of a very wealthy family How wealthy They have 40 servants and the boy doesn t know all their names even though some of them who have worked there for years The family lives in a multi house compound which includes a western style home in which they entertain and occasionally have western meals The boy s own room is in a Japanese style house but it s decorated with western furniture His mother often dresses and wears her hair in western style And yet, he has a friend at school whose family, he feels is,western in outlook than his, despite their family s lack of western trappings in furniture, food and dress The boy is very good looking, dreamy, melancholy, lazy and ambition less He s bright but he figures he ll get into a university for rich kids because he s not wasting time studying for exams to get into an academically prestigious school He s 18 when the story opens The end of the Russo Japanese War, 7 years ago, is a key backdrop to the story So we know it s around 1912 So the boy s family has money, but it s not one of Japan s traditional 28 noble families, like the one next door So his father creates an alliance between those two families and the boy spends much time at the neighboring residence absorbing the noble ambiance His father supplies the money the other family supplies the prestige.The plot revolves around a love story between this boy and the daughter of the neighboring household They have known each other all their lives and she has loved him since they were children But his feelings toward her are on again, off again he mistreats her and pretends he doesn t care for her Finally she gives up on him and becomes engaged to a son of a noble family, actually a member of the Emperor s household At this point she s is 21 he s 19 , and after the engagement has been approved by the Emperor himself, finally he decides he loves her and begins to pursue her They begin a sexual relationship and she becomes pregnant If word of any of this gets out, it would be the equivalent of a national scandal When the boy s father learns what is going on, after spending his whole life ass kissing the emperor and the nobles, to say he is apoplectic is putting it mildly Never having lifted a hand to his son before, he beats him with a pool cue.The difficult romance gives the author a chance to discuss the theme of the light of reason vs the darkness of passions There s also quite a bit of discussion about Buddhism and reincarnation But we know all this can only end in tragedy His friend counsels him that he is throwing his life away almost as if he wants to commit suicide There is good writing, such as this passage that I liked On a warm spring day, a galloping horse was only too clearly a sweating animal of flesh and blood But a horse racing through a snowstorm became one with the very elements wrapped in the whirling blast of the north wind, the beast embodied the icy breath of winter It s a good story I don t know if it entices me to read the whole tetralogy, but the second volume is the series, Runaway Horses, is equally highly rated as Spring Snow The other two are The temple of Dawn and The Decay of the Angel Probably the author s best known work in English is not part of the tetralogy, it s The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Photo of the Great Buddha of Kamakura featured in the novel from onmarkproductions.comPhoto of the newly restored Marunouchi Building, part of the Shimbasi railroad station featured in the novel Photo of the author from Goodreads Yukio Mishima felt the Japanese government needed to return to a system based on the samurai code He was descended from samarais and believed that this code, advocating complete command of one s body and soul combined with a complete loyalty to the emperor, was necessary for Japan to return to prominence He formed his own army in 1970 and attempted a coup d tat With a few friends he overpowered the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan s Sel Yukio Mishima felt the Japanese government needed to return to a system based on the samurai code He was descended from samarais and believed that this code, advocating complete command of one s body and soul combined with a complete loyalty to the emperor, was necessary for Japan to return to prominence He formed his own army in 1970 and attempted a coup d tat With a few friends he overpowered the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan s Self Defense Forces and tied the commandant to a chair Mishima then stepped onto a balcony outside the commandant s office and gave an impassioned speech to the government troops to join his cause He was jeered and mocked off the balcony He returned to the commandant s office and committed seppuku, a ritual suicide The friend he had chosen to slice his head from his body at the end of the ritual could not complete his responsibilities and another friend stepped in to end his pain Mishima had been planning his suicide for almost a year For those with agruesome bent you can find pictures of his severed head on the internet Mishima was only 45 on November 25th, 1970 He had been a successful actor, kendo master, and of course writer Mishima wrote 40 novels, 18 plays, 20 books of short stories, and at least 20 books of essays, one libretto, as well as one film Like Fitzgerald, he dashed off a lot of work for quick cash, but even if those inferior works are discarded, he still had an impressive body of work for a man who died so young He had just finished the final volume in The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, of which Spring Snow is the first, before his suicide Spring Snow is a novel of pride, misplaced loyalty, blackmail, intrigue, lust, selfishness, sacrifice, and misery It is the story of star crossed lovers, steadfast friends, political mishaps, and conniving servants The setting is 1912 Tokyo in the inner circle of imperial court Our hero is Kiyoaki, who was born so beautiful he stirred the blood of women from 8 to 80 He was a young man of 19 whom women wanted and men wanted to be like Those people too enad with him soon found themselves rebuffed Honda, a fellow classmate of Kiyoaki observed this tendency and modified his approach to Kiyoaki forsaking fawning for aloofnessHe knew only too well how Kiyoaki reserved his keenest displeasure for any excessive show of friendshipNow his name is HONDA not HONDO It must be the fact that Hondo was one of my favorite John Wayne movies when I was a kid combined with the fact that I really liked Honda, by far my favorite character in the book, that I kept changing his name in my head to Hondo Kiyoaki as a young lad of 13 was asked to participate in a ritual ceremony that brought him in close proximity to the princess He missteps and disrupts the trail of her ermine coatPrincess Kasuga s lavish use of French perfume extended to her train, and its fragrance overpowered the musky odor of incense Some way down the corridor, Kiyoaki stumbled for a moment, inadvertently tugging at the train The princess turned her head slightly, and, as a sign that she was not at all annoyed, smiled gently at the youthful offender Her gesture went unnoticed body perfectly erect in that fractional turn, she had allowed Kiyoaki a glimpse of a corner of her mouth At that moment, a single wisp of hair slipped over her clear white cheek, and out of the fine drawn corner of an eye a smile flashed in a spark of black fire But the pure line of her nose did not move It as as if nothing had happenedthis fleeting angle of the Princess s face too slight to be called a profile made Kiyoaki feel as if he had seen a rainbow flicker for a bare instant through a prism of pure crystalThis scene stays with Kiyoaki for the rest of his life He considered it one of the most defining moments of his life, which makes it all theinexplicable why it takes him so long to realize the extraordinary beauty of his life time friend Satoko Only after his friends at school see her and react extravagantly to her charms does Kiyoaki for the first time see her as a woman and not as an annoying child She is acerbic, sarcastic, intelligent, and head over heels in love with Kiyoaki Her wit and his pride contribute to the continued cross purposes of their relationship Honda proves himself time and time again helping Kiyoaki with insane plans to get unsupervised time with Satoko He rejects her and then wants herthan everHis own heart seemed to him to be much like an arrow stripped of the flashing white feathers that gave it direction The minor characters provide twisty plot turns that add inspiring flavor to the plot Jaw dropping, unexpected moments of blackmail with a dash of spicy intrigue keep the pages turning even when the main characters are off the stage Beautiful descriptive passages, bits of Zen, and an ending that Shakespeare would certainly approve of lead me to say HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Set near Tokyo in 1912 In Spring Snow Kiyoaki Matsugae is sent as a child be raised on the estate of a Count where he learns all the worst habits of a decadent court He is slothful, he preens in the knowledge of his superior looks When 18 years of age he is so self involved the familiar disaffectedness of many Mishima protagonists that even when kissing the woman who loves him he thinks only of how he feels He s an affected asshole who takes a conscious pleasure in cruelty.Thiswas fur Set near Tokyo in 1912 In Spring Snow Kiyoaki Matsugae is sent as a child be raised on the estate of a Count where he learns all the worst habits of a decadent court He is slothful, he preens in the knowledge of his superior looks When 18 years of age he is so self involved the familiar disaffectedness of many Mishima protagonists that even when kissing the woman who loves him he thinks only of how he feels He s an affected asshole who takes a conscious pleasure in cruelty.Thiswas further proof of the hidden, savage essence of the elegance he had cultivated for so long p 257 Kioyaki s friend is the upstanding Shigekuni Honda He adores Kiyoaki A hard working young man who loses himself in thoughts of the niceties of European Natural Law and the Laws of Manu, which at the time of the action, the author tells us, were the foundation of Indian law He also has an abiding interest in historiography, particularly how he and his peers will be viewed by future generations This dovetails with the theme of reincarnation which links the four books of The Sea of Fertility cycle The vast Matsugae estate is imposing It is still the period of mourning for the late emperor who was called Meiji in life So the cherry blossom festival as it turns out will be observed, though on a smaller scale than usual An imperial prince attends with his wife and other visitors Their route through the blossoms is girded by a red and white curtain, presumably for purposes of privacy The Western house is filled with geishas A platform for their cherry blossom dances is built in the garden Later, there will be a banquet and a film shown based on a Dickens novel.Amid it all Kiyoaki is adrift Satoko is there in all her finery but it s somehow not enough What is he waiting for In thrall to his own beauty, his pride, Kiyoaki is at odds with himself, contradictory in his impulses He is lost, no decisiveness aside from a snowy rickshaw ride with Satoko, which was her idea comes from him His is a rapt passivity Meanwhile, he stubbornly let s go of Satoko when she is courted by an imperial prince, and thinks good riddance.Devoid of worry or annoyance, free of all anxiety, Kiyoaki at nineteen liked to see himself as a cold and supremely capable young man He felt that he was now past some watershed in the course of his life p 163 But he isn t Unable to read his own emotions, he takes grief for delight his strength of will, as he terms it, when tearing up a letter from Satoko unread, he begins to sense may be cowardice, for she is just about to marry the imperial prince What a muddle he s in Though an aristocrat he has known social isolation much of his life Thus, his misreading of people and situations always in a manner that plays to his own falsely elevated sense of self worth.Long ago he had resolved to recognize his emotions as his only guiding truth and to live his life accordingly, even if meant a deliberate aimlessness That principle had now brought him to his present sinister feelings of joy, which seemed to be the brink of a racing plunging whirlpool There seemed to be nothing left but to throw himself into it p 177 I won t go into Kiyoaki and Satoko s love affair or the novel s tragic denouement Suffice it to say that Kiyoaki s comeuppance is quite a spectacle and Honda is there to puzzle over it The book has a very long fuse The last 200 pages are far better than the first 200 Despite this uneven start, this is the strongest Mishima novel I have ever read