B0nnie's Reviews > Spring Snow

Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
7355135
's review
Mar 26, 12

bookshelves: favourite-books
Read from March 23 to 26, 2012

Mishima, like other great writers, has a way of implanting memories in our heads, echoes of other lives. How this magic happens is a mystery but when it does, you feel somehow denser inside, more solid. Spring Snow left me with that feeling, of having increased my gravity and weight, with the lyrical descriptions, history, characters, ceremonies, letters, political intrigue, birds and emerald rings and emerald snakes, and silk kimonos, and more.

At its heart, this is a doomed love story, about two beautiful people - Kiyoaki Matsugae, and Satoko Ayakura - whose outward beauty match their inner turmoil.

This excerpt from Kiyoaki’s dream diary is an allegory of the story...which is an allegory…within allegory,

The very night before, he had dreamed of his own coffin, made of unpainted wood. It stood in the middle of an empty room with large windows, and outside, the pre-dawn darkness was shading to a deep blue; it was filled with the sound of birdsong.

A young woman clung to the coffin, her long black hair trailing from her drooping head, her slender shoulders wracked with sobs. He wanted to see her face but could make out no more than her pale, graceful forehead with its delicate peak of black hair.

The coffin was half covered with a leopard-skin bordered in pearls. The first muted glow of the dawn flickered on the row of jewels. Instead of funeral incense, a scent of Western perfume hung over the room with the fragrance of sun-ripened fruit. Kiyoaki seemed to be watching this from a great height, though he was convinced that his body lay inside the coffin.

But sure as he was, he still felt the need to see it there by way of confirmation. However, like a mosquito in the morning light, his wings lost all power and ceased beating in mid-air; he was utterly incapable of looking inside the nailed-down coffin lid. And then, as his frustration grew more and more intense, he woke up.

And Satoko,
...her words had a cold, proud glitter that could not tolerate the intrusion of a third party. In her own mind, she had fashioned their sin into a tiny, brilliant, crystal palace in which she and Kiyoaki could live free from the world around them. A crystal palace so tiny that it would balance on the palm of one’s hand, so tiny that no one else could fit in. Transformed for a fleetingly brief instant, she and Kiyoaki had been able to enter it and now they were spending their last few moments there, observed with extraordinary clarity in all their minute detail by someone standing just outside.

There is a movie, but from the preview it seems to have only caught the surface. But still...
description
春の雪

Spring Snow is a masterpiece - or at least the beginning of one, as it is the first in a cycle of four novels called the Sea of Fertility. I hope that the other books are as good as this one, but it’s going to be a hard act to follow.
50 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Spring Snow.
sign in »

Quotes B0nnie Liked

Yukio Mishima
“On a warm spring day, a galloping horse was only too clearly a sweating animal of flesh and blood. But a horse racing through a snowstorm became one with the very elements; wrapped in the whirling blast of the north wind, the beast embodied the icy breath of winter.”
Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow

Yukio Mishima
“He had never looked forward to the wisdom and other vaunted benefits of old age. Would he be able to die young—and if possible free of all pain? A graceful death—as a richly patterned kimono, thrown carelessly across a polished table, slides unobtrusively down into the darkness of the floor beneath. A death marked by elegance.”
Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow

Yukio Mishima
“Doesn’t it seem as though her heart were a green flame? Perhaps it’s the cold green heart of a small green snake, with a minute flaw in it, the kind of small green snake that slithers from branch to branch in the jungle, passing itself off as a vine. What’s more, perhaps when she gave me the ring with such a gentle, loving expression, she wanted me to draw such a meaning from it some day.”
Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow

Yukio Mishima
“Time is what matters. As time goes by, you and I will be carried inexorably into the mainstream of our period, even though we’re unaware of what it is. And later, when they say that young men in the early Taisho era thought, dressed, talked, in such and such a way, they’ll be talking about you and me. We’ll all be lumped together…. In a few decades, people will see you and the people you despise as one and the same, a single entity.”
Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow


Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by sckenda (new) - added it

sckenda Bonnie: I am so grateful to you for introducing me to Yukio Mishima of whom I was unaware before you started reviewing his work. ("Vincible ignorance" at least.)From your reviews and selected quotations, it seems that an elegant sadness permeates his work. The older I get, the more attracted I am to "those acquainted with the night," who help me to prepare and face the inevitable with courage in my heart and a blessing on my lips. I will be buying his work soon.


B0nnie Steve wrote: "Bonnie: I am so grateful to you for introducing me to Yukio Mishima of whom I was unaware before you started reviewing his work. ("Vincible ignorance" at least.)From your reviews and selected quota..."

I'm just discovering him too...you're right about the sadness that permeates his work. It is exquisite, like in Spring Snow - which also is the most accessible that I've read so far.


David I saw the film on a plane to Japan! It's not great, not on a big enough scale.


B0nnie David wrote: "I saw the film on a plane to Japan! It's not great, not on a big enough scale."
hmm, a good place to see it. The preview seems to reduce it to a soap-opera, although it does have a pretty look, with attractive stars.


message 5: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell I hope that the other books are as good as this one, but it’s going to be a hard act to follow.

I gobbled up the whole series a long, long while ago (1987, maybe....?) and the ending of the last one is really, really weird. But the whole series is pretty amazing.


B0nnie Moira wrote: "I gobbled up the whole series a long, long while ago (1987, maybe....?) and the ending of the last one is really, really weird. But the whole series is pretty amazing."

this first book is very amazing - I've steeled myself for the the coming weirdness of the others...


back to top