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天人五衰 Tennin Gosui

As the dramatic climax of The Sea of Fertility 'The Decay of the Angel' brings together the dominant themes of the three previous novels the meaning and decay of Japan's courtly tradition and samurai ideal; the essence and value of Buddhist philoso. What s this one about do you suppose There is in all translations of Mishima s work I have read by a host of translators a fundamental woodeness or clunkiness of description especially in his philosophical flights In Japan he is often referred to as a stylist with a penchant for archaic Japanese word forms So it could be that Mishima s use of archaisms means he doesn t translate well into English I don t know But this fourth volume of The Sea of Fertility tetralogy seems to me in the first half worst of the batch One has no idea why the characters are alternately so goddamned indifferent then so cruel The novel s seems to be all surface Why is there mention of evil out of the blue like that What s evil I d like to be shown T ru s evil and not simply be told about it It would do wonders for the suspense Yet the motivations are often completely opaue Except at the end there is little or no insight into character T ru is without parentage No past for him is ever given He lives alone without friends motivated like most Mishima protagonists entirely by a mix of na vet and cryptic self inuiry The day after Mishima finished this MS he committed suicide He was 45 Maybe that was his only alternative He certainly makes clear here as in all his books to some degree his absolute detestation of old age The book seems to me a farrago a pastiche whose fragments are not without interest but a novel they do not make Little Gods of The Sea Ensorcelled The Erotic Adventures of Jane in the Jungle Book 9 of the Angel' brings together the dominant themes The Poems The Collected Works of W B Yeats of the three previous novels the meaning and decay Sylvia Pankhurst of Japan's courtly tradition and samurai ideal; the essence and value Attack of Apollyon: Revenge of the Locusts of Buddhist philoso. What s this Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere An Illustrated Introduction Tuttle Martial Arts one about do you suppose There is in all translations The Empirical Stance The Terry Lectures Series of Mishima s work I have read by a host Book of Isms of translators a fundamental woodeness バガボンド 1 or clunkiness Расул Гамзатов Стихи of description especially in his philosophical flights In Japan he is Disrupted My Misadventure in the Start Up Bubble often referred to as a stylist with a penchant for archaic Japanese word forms So it could be that Mishima s use Microsoft Office Excel 2007 for Project Managers of archaisms means he doesn t translate well into English I don t know But this fourth volume Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly of The Sea Hawk's Passion of Fertility tetralogy seems to me in the first half worst Girls of Brackenhill of the batch One has no idea why the characters are alternately so goddamned indifferent then so cruel The novel s seems to be all surface Why is there mention A Beautiful Dark of evil After We Fell out Damsels in Distress of the blue like that What s evil I d like to be shown T ru s evil and not simply be told about it It would do wonders for the suspense Yet the motivations are The Thread often completely Renewing Pastoral Practice Trinitarian Perspectives on Pastoral Care And Counselling Explorations in Practical Pastoral and Empirical Theology Explorations Practical Pastoral and Empirical Theology opaue Except at the end there is little Going Grand or no insight into character T ru is without parentage No past for him is ever given He lives alone without friends motivated like most Mishima protagonists entirely by a mix The Reject of na vet and cryptic self inuiry The day after Mishima finished this MS he committed suicide He was 45 Maybe that was his Screenwalks only alternative He certainly makes clear here as in all his books to some degree his absolute detestation Battle Ground of Rightfully the Alpha Female old age The book seems to me a farrago a pastiche whose fragments are not without interest but a novel they do not make

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D wealthy man discovers and adopts a sixteen year old orphan Toru as his heir identifying him with the tragic protagonists of the three previous novels each of whom died at the age of twenty Honda raises and educates the boy yet watches him waiting. Much like listening to Joy Division s Closer there s an inescapable feeling of finality when reading the last novel of the uartet that goes beyond simply it being the last novel If you re at all interested in Mishima or the uartet you re probably well aware that as soon as Mishima finished the novel he went out attempted to stage a coup that failed miserably and then committed a ritual suicide all of which made perfect sense to him in his worldview but don t seem entirely like the acts of a rational person Yet we have this As his death was clearly planned when reading the final pages of the novel you are definitely reading the last words of a man about to die and who knew that he was about to die And that knowledge is somewhat hauntingNot surprisingly the notion of mortality creeps up than once in the course of the slimmest of the four novels although the uartet as a whole has been obsessed with the idea of growing older and losing the fire of youth it seems poignant here even as Mishima eschews sentimentality almost entirely We run into Honda again and find the man in his eighties old enough to realize that the good times are behind him even though he s uite rich and prepared to slide into oblivion the same way he has coasted through life unable or unwilling to leave or make much of an impact Always at the back of his mind is the notion of reincarnation embodied by his childhood friend Kiyoaki who keeps showing up in different guises throughout his life dying tragically young each timeThis time it seems that his old friend has become an orphan named Toru Spying those telltale birthmarks Honda adopts him as a teenager with the intent of watching him grow up and perhaps seeing if he can finally be spared the fate of all the other incarnations and not perish at a young age Sounds like as good a retirement plan as any rightYet it uickly becomes different The other incarnations were marked by what Honda perceived as an inner beauty a fiery passion that was inspiring in the way a bonfire can be You can stand back and admire it without daring to get too close Instead Toru seems wayward and petty not possessed with any grand romance or ideas for Japan content in casual cruelty and not struck with any arcing ambition And before long the old man and the kid are starting to get at each other s throats with Toru rather fond of seeing the old man die and nicely inheriting his wealth while Honda s initial desire to save the youth from what he believes was his fate becomes an insistence on surviving long enough to see him die so he can have the satisfaction of having lived longer Meanwhile the world erodes and decays around them both as Toru s inability to grasp beauty even in the midst of his petty evil makes Honda wonder if he indeed is a reincarnation or he has perhaps devoted his energy to the wrong course But his sureness in the rightness of it is what keeps him going in a sense the notion of being eternal and lasting beyond what he is exemplified in the continual reemergence of his old friendIts an interesting reversal from the early volumes a subtle undermining of all that we saw before Doubts that never existed before begin to linger the Japan outside Honda slipping further away as we spend time in his thoughts even as his thoughts become ossified Mishima has no love for old age a disdain that crackles throughout the book but seems to take on a particular focus here There are moments when the fear of losing the fire of one s youth and settling into senescence practically leaps off the page a chilling intensity that comes near to desperation The sensuality that lingered in the pages of Temple of Dawn or the raw passion that infused Runaway Horses has been replaced here with a crumbling decay that doesn t realize how fragile it has become a weakly swaggering Honda lost within himself detached from a Japan that Mishima perceives as already detached from itself lost in a spiral where the arc is no longer beautiful The final scenes resonates with a chill that goes past despair into a cold realization that can only occur when one feels that finally all the layers are stripped away and what remains in undoubtedly the truthIn the light of this the ending becomes remarkable upending everything that both we and Honda have known all along stripping away the mysticism and philosophy that marked the first volumes and perhaps leaving us with what was there all along the spaces between words the spaces that make up words and the voids that comprise ourselves The blissful continuation of nothing arrived and achieved Taken as a whole the volumes of the uartet have done their best to gradually take away the layers we thought existed setting up a world where we re convinced certain notions are true against all hope and by the end reinforcing that our original ideas were true all along We have no one else Mishima seems to suggest as the book races toward its and his end no one else and not even ourselves Just the universe maybe a single point of hard dark light too far away to be touched and unable to be unseen So what do we have then when the point is finally grasped The ending has a suggestion that Mishima may have ultimately taken in its fragile clarity or his interpretation may have been the only way he could have seen it having perhaps striven for so long to see what needed to be there what had to be present But we negate in our faltering absences acting without blinking Thus it becomes It acts as a mirror that turns us into glass It becomes better every time I read it Not truer but better It fits where it has to and in that becomes its own perfection and maybe worth the effort in ways he was unable to imagine

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Phy and aesthetics; and underlying all Mishima's apocalyptic vision of the modern era which saw the dissolution of the moral and cultural forces that throughout the ages nourished a people and a world The time is the late 1960s Honda now an aged an. To be as honest as possible I must run the risk of not making any sense this is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite book in the series Parts of it were hugely gorgeous the prose was pure and had an almost cleansing aura to it and I felt alive while reading it However I wanted to strangle Mishima for writing some other parts that I felt were not only uncalled for but intentionally annoying to read I m looking at you several descriptions of harbor boats I know that Seidensticker is apparently revered as some sort of translator god in the Japanese world but I couldn t help but feel he edited it sentence by sentence with his mindset alternating between How do I make this as beautiful as possible with How can I make this as tedious as possibleWhere has Honda come to then He was first the friend of Kiyoaki Matsugae then the lawyer of Isao Iinuma and finally the friendvoyeur of Ying Chan Now he s the guardian of Toru a diabolical young teenager who in wanting to see himself as superior to everyone else decides to be evil Honda s journey has been as remarkable as it has been beautiful and according to him that may be for the better It would appear that beauty is perhaps one of the most undefinable things in the universe It is pain fragility distance youth and above all death When you put it together it seems to be that it becomes the art of suicide to kill yourself before you really grow up Beauty then becomes nothing than the physicality of your being your existence as an independent entity a transcendental adolescence and by killing yourself at that stage your life becomes synonymous with that beauty Hell if that was Kiyoaki s objective I think he did a bang up good jobThe last twenty pages are worth reading it all again for though It makes me want to go back and read the first one again if only that There s a throwback to a scene from the end of Spring Snow where Honda at wits end decides to visit someone he hasn t seen in sixty years The discussion that ensues chills meMemory is like a phantom mirror It sometimes shows things too distant to be seen and sometimes it shows them as if they were hereHas this all then been but a dream No it wasn t all just a dream That would be silly Mishima isn t some nutjob with a pen well okay maybe he was but let s be honest with ourselves here Mishima might actually be testing us with this one He wasn t a Buddhist but there s definitely something weird going on in the last installment and the writing itself betrays a sort of unsettling of his own philosophy There might be a good reason why Mishima chose to stage his coup right after finishing this final piece Perhaps it is not Honda but Mishima who arrives with the reader where there is no memory to the place where the noontide sun of summer flows over an empty garden


About the Author: Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima 三島 由紀夫 was born in Tokyo in 1925 He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s School of Jurisprudence in 1947 His first published book The Forest in Full Bloom appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask 1949 From then until his death he continued to publish novels short stories and plays each year His crowning achievement th



10 thoughts on “天人五衰 Tennin Gosui

  1. says:

    This is the fourth and final volume in Mishima’s tetralogy The Sea of Fertility Class divisions and changing values in Japan due to western influence are major themes Another theme all the way through the series is reincarnation In Decay of the Angel the reincarnated spirit is an orphan He has a job helping ships in port

  2. says:

    A strange swift landing to the Sea of Fertility tetralogy and a book that can't help but be altered by the fact that Mishima's strange ritualistic suicide occurred the day after he handed it in on the date on the last page of the mansucript There is a lot to like in this volume which cleverly inverts the reincarnations of Kiyoaki by uestioning whether this particular rendition a sociopathic ship watcher named Tōru Yasunaga a character w

  3. says:

    What’s this one about do you suppose? There is in all translations of Mishima’s work I have read—by a host o

  4. says:

    Do you think that your hopes and those of someone else coincide that your hopes can be smoothly realized for you by someone else? People live for themselves and think only of themselves You who than most think only of yourself have gone too far and let yourself be blinded You thought that history has its exceptions There are none You thought that the race has its exceptions There are none There is no special right to

  5. says:

    To be as honest as possible I must run the risk of not making any sense this is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite book in the series Parts of it were hugely gorgeous the prose was pure and had an almost cleansing aura to it and I felt alive while reading it However I wanted to strangle Mishima for writing some other parts that I felt were not only uncalled for but intentionally annoying to read I'm looking at you sever

  6. says:

    Of all the books that I've read so far this has got to be the hardest book to review I feel like my love for this book stems mainly from certain aspects that have little to do with the book itselfAs an admirer of Yukio Mishima this book meant

  7. says:

    A great ending to a great tetralogy the ending is drilled in my memory like a painting I can see Honda on his cane uestioning his life and Satoko guided by her assistant gazing at the garden a place that had no m

  8. says:

    Much like listening to Joy Division's Closer there's an inescapable feeling of finality when reading the last novel of the uartet that goes be

  9. says:

    An excellent ending to a most excellent and powerful series of four novels I'm so sad to see it end and I'm sure I'll be feeling a bit empty for a while to come

  10. says:

    How can an angel decay? An angel in this context is not the haloed winged messenger of the Christian deity In Buddhist cosmology ang

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