Yukio Mishima's "Spring Snow" is the first novel in his masterful tetralogy, "The Sea of Fertility. "Here we meet""Shigekuni Honda, who narrates this epic tale of what he believes are the successive reincarnations of his friend, Kiyoaki Matsugae.
It is 1912 in Tokyo, and 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. Shigekuni Honda, an aspiring lawyer and his childhood friend, Kiyoaki Matsugae, are the sons of two such families. As they come of age amidst the growing tensions between old and new, Kiyoaki is plagued by his simultaneous love for and loathing of the spirited young woman Ayakura Satoko. But Kiyoaki's true feelings only become apparent when her sudden engagement to a royal prince shows him the magnitude of his passion -- and leads to a love affair both doomed and inevitable.
About the Author
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was many people. The best known in Japan of the writers to emerge there after World War II, he was by far the most published abroad. Mishima completed his first novel the year he entered the University of Tokyo. More followed (some twenty-three, the last completed the day of his death in November, 1970), along with more than forty play, over ninety short stories, several poetry and travel volumes and hundreds of essays. Influenced by European literature, in which he was exceptionally well read, he was an interpreter to his own people of Japan's ancient virtues, to which he urged a return. He had sung on the stage, starred in and directed movies and was a noted practitioner of Japan's traditional martial arts. He seemed at the height of his career and vitality at the age of forty-five, when after a demonstration in the public interest he committed suicide by ceremonial seppuku.
“Perfect beauty. . . . A classic of Japanese literature.”
“Mishima was one of literature's great romantics, a tragedian with a heroic sensibility, an intellectual, an esthete, a man steeped in Western letters who toward the end of his life became a militant Japanese nationalist.”
—Jay McInerney, The New York Times