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The Seed and the Sower

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  242 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Filmed as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence starring David Bowie & Tom Conti. This is war as experienced in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Java in 1942. It's the story of two British officers whose spirit the Japanese try to break. Yet out of the terrible violence & hardship strange bonds of love & friendship are forged between the prisoners & their jailers.
Hardcover, 1st, 256 pages
Published 1963 by William Morrow & Co. (NYC)
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Feb 20, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great writing, the boys in Africa part was exceptional. Which is funny because it was the worst bit of the movie. Tom Conti wasn't really Mr Lawrence, but I can see why they went for David Bowie as Jacques Celliers.

"when the ground under the feet of Hara's war lords was cracking and reverberating from the shock of the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and when the legendary twilight of the submerged racial soul of Japan must have been dark and sagging under the weight of the wings of dragons
Jan 15, 2017 Lyra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became aware of this book, unsurprisingly, through the adapted movie Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence directed by Nagisa Oshima. I enjoyed the movie tremendously and was curious about the source material that made the movie.

The book is elegantly written and incredibly moving. It digs deep into the minds of its characters and presents them as they evolve. The writing is intimate and profound not only for how it reveals the genuine nature of the characters, but also in a way that is closely tied to
Lucinda Elliot
Sep 12, 2011 Lucinda Elliot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part this is brilliantly written, the strong spiritual message all important but never overstated.

The themes are complex, but at base describe the net of forces which oblige whole peoples, let alone inidividuals, to act in accordance with urges that seem stronger than themselves. Thus, in 'The Bar of Shadow' the Japanese officer practically in charge of the starved prisoners, Hara, is acting monstrously according to any humane standards, but by his own, he is beating them out of the
Patrick McCoy
May 14, 2013 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I recently re-watched Nagisa Oshima's masterful Merry Christmas Mr.Lawrence and realized through the Criterion extras that the film is based on the writings of South African author Laurens van der Post. Post is a fascinating character who had worked in Japan as a journalist and had some Japanese language knowledge so that when he was captured he could communicate with his captors better than most. He went onto become a celebrated traveler and writer. This explains why Oshima choose a story writt ...more
'n Uitstekende boek. Een van die tien bestes wat ek nog gelees het. Twee ou vriende wat saam die verskrikking van die Japanese strafkampe tydens die 2de wêreld oorlog oorleef het, kom weer bymekaar gedurende Kersfees 'n aantal jare na die oorlog. Hulle begin gesels soos net ou vriende kan wat al baie saam deurgemaak het. Hulle onthou ou kamerade, karakters en ervarings tydens die oorlog. Van wrede Japanese kamp opsigters tot 'n jong passievolle vrou vasgevang in die wreedheid van oorlog. 'n Baie ...more
Jun 24, 2010 Mollie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best book I've read in a long time. Van Der Post has something really important to tell us in these three beautifully written novellas. The stories are recalled by two men who had been through the war and prison camp together when they meet again at Christmas time. The episodes are set in a Japanese prison camp, in battle fields, and torture chambers--all places you would least likely expect to find love, compassion and brotherhood. I highly recommend this book. It's out of pr ...more
Dec 31, 2015 A.S.F rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The seed and the Sower is the kind of book that leaves you in a daze for a day or two after you are down reading it. Some themes are sure to hit close to home and the written is at times incredibly superb. It must be said though that some of the writing and formulations can be racists.

"Yet as one recognizes the nature of the seed from the tree, the tree by its fruit, and the fruit from the taste on the tongue, so I know the betrayal from its consequences and the tyrannical flavour it left behin
the writing is silted and flowery but its to be expected by the stature of the person writing it and the era it was written in. not nearly as gorey as the people on the dvd extras lead me to believe. (its the book Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence is based on) but then everyone's idea of gore is different.
Jul 31, 2014 Reid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pauline Lindeque
Excellent! Van der Post describes the world around him with such beauty. I read some passages twice to make sure that I did not miss it. You have to be attentive when reading but well worth the effort.
Jun 08, 2011 Luciferous rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I only recently got a copy of this book from the library's archives. This is one of the most
Beautiful and moving books I've read. I just wish I could own a copy of's a shame this book is out of print! :(
George Ilsley
Took me ages to get through this. Parts are brilliant, parts are mushy and incomprehensible. A section when he talks about male/females relations felt really dated. All in all, these are linked stories, not a novel.
Mar 11, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A WWII story. A Japanese prison camp story. But mostly a story of brothers. There are lines in this book that have stayed with me for decades. Lovely writing.
Julie Harris
Jul 13, 2016 Julie Harris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More research for Yosomono but also my introduction to a marvellous writer
Erik Graff
Apr 27, 2012 Erik Graff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Laurens van der Post fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
I picked this up to read after reading Lauren van der Post's Jung and the Story of Our Time book. The movie based on it made more of an impression on me than this did.
Michael Page
Sep 02, 2012 Michael Page rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book I first read as a teenager and have read every decade since- still an excellent exploration of why men fight and how people can reach across even the greatest divides.
Diana Sharkey
Jan 13, 2016 Diana Sharkey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poignant, powerful.

Story telling at its finest. If you enjoyed the movie Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, you will love this book which inspired it.
Nov 08, 2008 Arya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i just love it...
Feb 13, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saw the movie, interestingly enough in South Africa, and read the book much later. Both are very good and well worth the read and the watch.
Nov 12, 2014 S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminds me of 'Heart of Darkness'. I'd love to see some feminist/post-colonial/queer readings of this text.
wrong timing for me and this book
will try again at a later stage
This book brings back good memories. I should really return it to its owner.
Justin Summay
Justin Summay rated it did not like it
Jul 06, 2015
Chua Julingxiaoye
Chua Julingxiaoye rated it it was amazing
Jul 12, 2014
Janna rated it it was amazing
Feb 12, 2013
Zen rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2016
Cfrench1 rated it really liked it
Jan 19, 2013
M! rated it really liked it
May 20, 2012
Jakob Orri Jonsson
Jakob Orri Jonsson rated it liked it
Jan 27, 2014
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Sir Laurens Jan van der Post (aka Laurens van der Post) was a 20th century Afrikaner author of many books, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer, and conservationist.
More about Laurens van der Post...

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“We may not be able to stop and undo the hard old wrongs of the great world outside, but through you and me no evil shall come either in the unknown where you are going, or in this imperfect and haunted dimension of awareness through which I move.” 9 likes
“The only death the spirit recognizes is the denial of birth to that which strives to be born: those realities in ourselves that we have not allowed to live. The real ghost is a strange, persistent beggar at a narrow door asking to be born; asking, again and again, for admission at the gateway of our lives. Such ghosts I had, and thus, beyond all reason, I continued to be haunted.” 0 likes
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