Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review: "Spring Snow" by Yukio Mishima

I really hope nobody reading Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow, the first book in his final sequence of novels, The Sea of Fertility, takes him seriously. And that goes for all of his novels as well. Despite his amazing talent and insight into human emotion, I can tell just from his books that he was a grim, grim man, and not in the cool, misguided kind of way. His thought process is the kind that can end lives, as noted by his final, depressing hours here on Earth. I hope people approach this series of books, and his others, with great trepidation as to what they are getting into. It is important to understand the way Mishima felt, in all of its ugliness, but don’t for a second buy into it. Also, another good way to approach his books is with a sense of humor, which he had not the tiniest bit of. Having said that, this book, and I’m sure the subsequent three books, are nothing short of amazingly crafted and really smart. The story centers on a young man named Kiyoaki living in Japan at the dawn of the 20th century. He is a member of an ambitious family who send him to live a local aristocratic family in hopes of improving their future lives. Kiyoaki is a welcome addition to the family, but unwanted feelings for a local girl clash with his undying devotion to his country and its customs ultimately lead to an inevitable tragedy. There are many great scenes in this book that are breathtaking, such as a big reveal taking place in a billiard room, and the book’s haunting last pages. I can’t help but think that below his stodginess, Mishima was a romantic who knew things we didn’t. But so much of his politics and rigid, awful beliefs shine through the narrative, that it is impossible to separate the two. One of Japan’s greatest storytellers, for sure, but the divide between his Eastern and our Western thought process is a gap that will never be closed.

Rating: 4/5

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