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The Seed and the Sower
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The Seed and the Sower

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  30 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 s ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 1973 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1963)
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Mark Lawrence
This is just my lame way of getting a Merry Christmas from Mr (Dr even!) Lawrence into your feed!

Have a good one, everybody!

(I saw the film when it came out. It's good.)
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 20, 2011 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
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Susan by: The Wonderlings
Shelves: fiction
In these three interconnected stories, two old friends meet for Christmas 5 years after the end of World War II and talk over wartime experiences including their time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Conflicts between Eastern and Western culture and mores are shown in an intuitive, almost spiritual Jungian perspective with respect for both, despite descriptions of brutal actions which would seem to foreclose understanding. Read for online book group.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is great, I loved the flowery and lengthy descriptions and most of the book was very captivating although the last section of the book (i e the last story) really fell flat for me and felt incredibly dated. The religious overtones became a bit annoying at times, also it isn't so much a novel than it is a collection of three distinct stories with some interlinking characters and themes. It was interesting to see how the filmakers of Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence managed to tie and cleverly me ...more
Jason Prodoehl
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
There are times in this book you will wonder what kind of strange tangent the story is taking. It's worth it. This author is so incredible in his descriptions, and he finds a way to describe complex emotions. It also makes me see beyond the moment and the action, to what is happening to the heart. Do note this book describes events during WW II. Even though the Japanese were the "enemy" of the Allied forces, I was surprised and pleased that the author describes those fighting against as human be ...more
Gianfranco Furboni
Sono anni che volevo leggere questo libro, ho amato il film (Furyo/Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence) e devo dire che il libro, composto da tre storie indipendenti, mi ha consentito di approfondire aspetti solo accennati nell'opera di Oshima.
Magistrale la descrizione di Hara, così come il momento finale del secondo libro, quello del faccia a faccia tra Celliers e Yonoi.
Assolutamente consigliato a chiunque desideri approfondire il tema dello scontro tra culture.
Denise Greenwood
Well-written and a riveting story.
Lucinda Elliot
Sep 12, 2011 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pauline Lindeque
Feb 05, 2012 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 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 11, 2013 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.
Julie Harris
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
More research for Yosomono but also my introduction to a marvellous writer
Erik Graff
Apr 27, 2012 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 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 13, 2016 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 rated it it was amazing
i just love it...
Feb 13, 2013 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.
Nov 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Reminds me of 'Heart of Darkness'. I'd love to see some feminist/post-colonial/queer readings of this text.
Jun 16, 2010 added it
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
rated it did not like it
Jul 06, 2015
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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.
“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.” 11 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.” 3 likes
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