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The Seed and the Sower

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  228 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
This is war as experienced in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Java in 1942, but, above all, war as experienced in the souls of men. What follows is the story of two British officers whose spirits the Japanese try to break. Yet out of all the violence and misery strange bonds of love and friendship are forged between the prisoners - and their gaolers. It is a battle of ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 1973 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1963)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 05, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
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
Lucinda Elliot
Nov 23, 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 17, 2013 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing
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 ...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
Jul 10, 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 ...more
Jun 03, 2016 A.S.F rated it really liked it
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
Jul 12, 2016 Jeane added it
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.
Apr 29, 2016 Reid rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pauline Lindeque
Feb 05, 2012 Pauline Lindeque rated it it was amazing
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
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 12, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it
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.
Erik Graff
Aug 08, 2014 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 30, 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.
Feb 13, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 20, 2015 S rated it liked it
Reminds me of 'Heart of Darkness'. I'd love to see some feminist/post-colonial/queer readings of this text.
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 23, 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
Aug 18, 2014
Federico Taddei
Federico Taddei rated it did not like it
Jan 11, 2014
Jagadish rated it it was amazing
Mar 21, 2009
Brooke rated it it was amazing
May 14, 2014
Laura rated it it was amazing
Apr 09, 2013
Anand Iyer
Anand Iyer rated it really liked it
Sep 04, 2011
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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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