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The Decay of the Angel (Sea of Fertility, Book 4)
Yukio Mishima’s The Decay of the Angel is the final novel in his masterful tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility. It is the last installment of Shigekuni Honda’s pursuit of the successive reincarnations of his childhood friend Kiyoaki Matsugae.
It is the late 1960s and Honda, now an aged and wealthy man, once more encounters a person he believes to be a reincarnation of his friend, Kiyoaki — this time restored to life as a teenage orphan, Tōru. Adopting the boy as his heir, Honda quickly finds that Tōru is a force to be reckoned with. The final novel of this celebrated tetralogy weaves together the dominant themes of the previous three novels in the series: the decay of Japan’s courtly tradition; the essence and value of Buddhist philosophy and aesthetics; and, underlying all, Mishima’s apocalyptic vision of the modern era.
The end of literature.
By Angry Mofo "angrymofo"
- June 13, 2002
On November 25, 1970, Yukio Mishima went to a Japanese army base. He was accompanied by a number of his young admirers, who called themselves the "Shield Society" and sought to embody an idealized Japanese martial tradition. Together with these followers, Mishima held the commander hostage and demanded that the soldiers at the base be gathered together. He stepped out onto the balcony and gave a fiery speech in which he encouraged the soldiers to overthrow the government and restore power to the Emperor. The speech was soundly mocked and ridiculed. Mishima returned inside and killed himself in the way prescribed by the samurai code, by slashing open his stomach with a Japanese sword. He was forty-five years old.
That very same morning, Mishima had finished his last novel, The Decay of the Angel. He handed it in to the publisher and only then went to his death. It was the last in a cycle of four novels which Mishima called "The Sea of Fertility."
In doing so,... read more
A fine last volume leading up to a nihilistic but utterly fascinating ending.
By Christopher Culver
- July 22, 2006
Yukio Mishima's THE DECAY OF THE ANGEL is the last volume of his "Sea of Fertility". It is also the last book he wrote. On November 25, 1970 he sent the manuscript off to the publisher, then went to incite the soldiers of Japan's military headquarters to a coup d'etat. When he failed, he committed seppuku. As might be expected, THE DECAY OF THE ANGEL contains much that that relates to Mishima's dissatisfaction with life, and the cosmic nihilism that he promised would be the ultimate theme of the tetralogy comes to the forefront. The ending is also possibly the most shocking in all of literature.
The year is now 1970, and Shikeguni Honda adopts a young orphan named Toru, who he believes is the third successive reincarnation of Kiyoaki. The decay present throughout the book is especially present in Honda, who we meet as as a man of seventy-six and who reaches eighty-one by the novel's end. His physical health, memory, and wife are gone. He keeps company with Keiko, the former... read more
culmination of the tetralogy
By N. Dyachenko "andriyd"
- January 17, 2004
"Spring Snow" was brilliant and breathtakingly beautiful.
"Runaway Horses" was Spartan, brave and controversial.
"Temple of Dawn" was somewhat boring, but decadent in an atractive sort of way.
Here comes the last part, which is a real culmination of the tetralogy. It is intellectually stimulating, highly mystical and very personal. Is it also very sad and pessimistic. It is a book about death and nihilism. Main characters are brilliant. It is of course Honda - the man of Reason, who is more real and attractive and complete as a person than in any previous book, but also a rich hedonistic lesbian destroyed by old age, Toru - the last reincarnation of Kiyoaki, who lost all his powers of uncompromising life and beauty, mad ugly girl, who believes she is very beautiful, mysterios enlightened Satoko, and the main protagonist of the novel - Japan the Great that greadualy lost her uniqueness and tradition and spirit during the infamous XX century and now is close to... read more
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