Jr Bacdayan's Reviews > Spring Snow

Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
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A book can be either of two things: a key to open locked doors which lead to unique experiences we have not encountered or are impossible for us to attain; while the other is a mirror to show us who we are or remind us of ourselves and the past we have not forgotten. One stirs excitement, the other nostalgia. This time it took the shape of the latter. The book served as a mirror to me, reminding me of a befuddled young man blind to the workings of his heart, prone to exaggerating the simple nuances in the actions of a woman devoted to him, a woman he doubted because of childish fears. But I am not here to talk of myself, I am here because the pain it stirred in me forces me to write.

Kiyoaki, a beautiful yet lethargic young man, is at odds with his equally beautiful childhood friend Satoko. An inexperienced boy when it comes to the desire inside him, he constantly misinterprets and confuses the actions of the young woman who is thoroughly taken with him. His melancholy attitude doesn’t help his cause and he loathes balefully in the estranged pool of his own work. That is until he learns of Satoko’s engagement with a prince, thus the object of his hatred and bewilderment is snatched from him, suddenly out of reach. It is such a curious thing that when something we have ignored for so long is suddenly unavailable to us, we find it infinitely more desirable. The fickle human heart with its itinerant impulses shifts its gear and so the idea of unattainability forces us to acknowledge the taken for granted, the sudden spotlight makes the dull suddenly novel. And it is in this manner that young Kiyoaki realizes the gravity of his passion for Satoko. Doomed from the very start, an affair begins between the childhood friends. In this shared consciousness of tragedy, their love flourishes.

At the very core of this tragic romance Spring Snow serves as Yukio Mishima’s statement against elegance. Being a military man of action, he felt that the Japanese strayed from the righteous way of the Samurai and have alarmingly become slaves of pleasure, smitten with exterior beauty, apathetic to the real world, too taken by the West, too modern. He envisioned a traditional Japan with its graceful simplicity, austere values, and unceasing nationalism and love for the Emperor. The character Kiyoaki is a warning to the people of Japan, a cautionary tale to show the rottenness that elegance is bound to instill in the indolent souls of its time. This very idea is what prompted Mishima to stage a coup d’état in 1970 to restore power to the Emperor. But he failed and thus committed ritual seppuku. However before his death, he was able to complete his tetralogy, the Sea of Fertility, which features Spring Snow as the first of four books. With this in mind, I believe it to be quite irresponsible to fully interpret an incomplete picture. To understand his real intentions, I have to complete the journey by reading the other three works. Yet as a standalone it is rather fascinating to see something that was meant to alarm, instead take one’s breath away with sheer elegance. And so by embodying the object of his scorn, Mishima ironically succeeds in mirroring the very relationship of Kiyoaki and Satoko.

“The path we’re taking is not a road, Kiyo, it’s a pier, and it ends someplace where the sea begins.”

All at once subtle, tender, and painful, this novel manages to evoke a somber tinge of passion in the otherwise luscious backdrop of Taisho Japan. Indeed, like spring snow, a furtive loveliness envelops the landscape of its pages but intertwined with this beauty is a faint cry of desolation, a quiet deadliness that can only enhance its icy elegance.
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Reading Progress

September 3, 2016 – Started Reading
September 3, 2016 – Shelved
September 6, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review, Jr. This is one of my favorites, I was spellbound by its multifaceted nature. As you mention the picture is yet incomplete but many complete ideas resurface its lush, sensuous pages. Yours is the one!


message 2: by Seemita (new) - added it

Seemita "It is such a curious thing that when something we have ignored for so long is suddenly unavailable to us, we find it infinitely more desirable."

Well-put, Jr. A lovely review, warming up the heart as it flows by in quiet, reflective streams.


message 3: by Arah-Lynda (new)

Arah-Lynda Wow that is a stunning final paragraph Jr.


message 4: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Waqas wrote: "Great review, Jr. This is one of my favorites, I was spellbound by its multifaceted nature. As you mention the picture is yet incomplete but many complete ideas resurface its lush, sensuous pages. ..."

Thanks, Waqas. I really loved it as well. There other themes I didn't discuss here, particularly with regards to reincarnation. I felt like that particular part of the novel hasn't been concluded and I didn't want to make premature conjectures about it as it plays one of the central themes in the whole tetralogy. I'll be reading the other books as well but I don't plan on doing it in succession, I want to savor it for a while, I guess. Haha.


message 5: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Seemita wrote: ""It is such a curious thing that when something we have ignored for so long is suddenly unavailable to us, we find it infinitely more desirable."

Well-put, Jr. A lovely review, warming up the hear..."


Thank you, Seemita. It is only fitting for such a lovely book, I didn't want to stray from its elegance.


message 6: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Arah-Lynda wrote: "Wow that is a stunning final paragraph Jr."

Thanks, Arah! I hope I was able to convey how stunning this book is.


message 7: by Lynne (new)

Lynne King A lovely review Jr. I especially like the idea of mirrors.


message 8: by Katie (new) - added it

Katie Another cracking review Jr. I really like the sound of this.


message 9: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Lynne wrote: "A lovely review Jr. I especially like the idea of mirrors."

Thanks, Lynne. Sometimes a book can just transport you back and show you your past. This book did that to me and it left a deep impression.


message 10: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Katie wrote: "Another cracking review Jr. I really like the sound of this."

Thanks, Katie. This is a great book, I'm sure you'll like it as well.


message 11: by Ritwik (new)

Ritwik A book can be either of two things: a key to open locked doors which lead to unique experiences we have not encountered or are impossible for us to attain; while the other is a mirror to show us who we are or remind us of ourselves and the past we have not forgotten. One stirs excitement, the other nostalgia.
^ That is gold, Jr. Lovely review!


message 12: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Ritwik wrote: "A book can be either of two things: a key to open locked doors which lead to unique experiences we have not encountered or are impossible for us to attain; while the other is a mirror to show us wh..."

Thanks, Ritwik. This novel reminded me of one of my first forays in the unforgiving realm of romance so it did give me extra motivation to write the review.


message 13: by Nishat (new)

Nishat Exuding profundity and brilliance, you have written an eloquently sophisticated review, Jr.


message 14: by Lizzy (new) - added it

Lizzy What a beautiful review, Jr.!


message 15: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Nishat wrote: "Exuding profundity and brilliance, you have written an eloquently sophisticated review, Jr."

Thank you, Nishat. You are too kind. It's nice to finally interact with you. :)


message 16: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Lizzy wrote: "What a beautiful review, Jr.!"

Thank you, Lizzy. This is a beautiful book, I tired at least to make something worthy of it.


message 17: by Matthias (new) - added it

Matthias Exceptional review, with particularly strong opening and closing paragraphs. Really glad to count you among my new Goodreads friends!


message 18: by Jr (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jr Bacdayan Matthias wrote: "Exceptional review, with particularly strong opening and closing paragraphs. Really glad to count you among my new Goodreads friends!"

Thank you, Matthias. Glad to have you as a new friend as well. :)


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Sire, I have dug out this wonderful review of yours just today and now I again realized how tremendously I miss your writing. This novel is on my 2017 reading list and after reading your splendid write-up I truly cannot wait to get down to it.

Your powerful opening and closing paragraphs absolutely swept me off of my feet (no, I lied, I was stitting while reading them).

It is such a curious thing that when something we have ignored for so long is suddenly unavailable to us, we find it infinitely more desirable.

Yes, that is why I'm desperately trying to value all things and people coming into my way, although I must agree that it is not always easy. How blind we sometimes are, aren't we? But I guess that is what makes us human. Mistakes and regrets... I almost daresay that our lives would be strangely plain without them. Often our weaknesses and failures build us and eventually make better people of us, if we admit them and learn to work with them.

Thank you for this utterly magnificent splendor! I hope things are going well, Majesty. :)


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