Yukio Mishima’s The Decay of the Angel is the final novel in his masterful tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility. It is the last installment of Shigekuni Honda’s pursuit of the successive reincarnations of his childhood friend Kiyoaki Matsugae.
It is the late 1960s and Honda, now an aged and wealthy man, once more encounters a person he believes to be a reincarnation of his friend, Kiyoaki — this time restored to life as a teenage orphan, Tōru. Adopting the boy as his heir, Honda quickly finds that Tōru is a force to be reckoned with. The final novel of this celebrated tetralogy weaves together the dominant themes of the previous three novels in the series: the decay of Japan’s courtly tradition; the essence and value of Buddhist philosophy and aesthetics; and, underlying all, Mishima’s apocalyptic vision of the modern era.
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.
McDonald graduated from Yale College and earned a M.B.A. degree from Columbia Graduate School of Business.
“Mesmerizing. . . . A saga of 20th-century Japan: a story of national decline that nonetheless proposes redemption through the endurance of a certain soul, forceful enough to be reborn ad infinitum.”
—The Guardian (London)
“The end of [Mishima’s] Sea of Fertility tetralogy. . . is surely one of the best final scenes in the history of the novel.”
—David Mitchell, The New York Times Book Review