The dramatic climax of The Sea of Fertility tetraology takes place in the late 1960s. Honda, now an aged and 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.
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 philosophy 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 and 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.
THE LAST NOVEL IN THE SEA OF FERTILITY TETRALOGY 'The four novels remain one of the outstanding works of twentieth-century literature and a summary of the author's life and work' Los Angeles Times The dramatic climax of Mishima's masterful cycle of novels takes place in the late 1960s. Honda, now an aged and 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. See also: Spring Snow
Yukio Mishima was born into a samurai family and imbued with the code of complete control over mind and body, and loyalty to the Emperor - the same code that produced the austerity and self-sacrifice of Zen. He wrote countless short stories and thirty-three plays, in some of which he acted. Several films have been made from his novels, including The Sound of Waves; Enjo, which was based on The Temple of the Golden Pavilion; and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea. Among his other works are the novels Confessions of a Mask and Thirst For Love and the short-story collections Death in Midsummer and Acts of Worship.
The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, however, is his masterpiece. After Mishima conceived the idea of The Sea of Fertility in 1964, he frequently said he would die when it was completed. On November 25th, 1970, the day he completed The Decay of the Angel, the last novel of the cycle, Mishima committed seppuku (ritual suicide) at the age of 45.
"A major literary creation" New York Times "This tetralogy is considered one of Yukio Mishima's greatest works. It could also be considered a catalogue of Mishima's obsessions with death, sexuality and the samurai ethic. Spanning much of the 20th century, the tetralogy begins in 1912 when Shigekuni Honda is a young man and ends in the 1960s with Honda old and unable to distinguish reality from illusion. En route, the books chronicle the changes in Japan that meant the devaluation of the samurai tradition and the waning of the aristocracy" Washington Post "One of the great writers of the twentieth century" Los Angeles Times "Japan's foremost man of letters" Spectator "Mishima's novels exude a monstrous and compulsive weirdness, and seem to take place in a kind of purgatory for the depraved" -- Angela Carter
In this final part of Mishima's tetralogy, Honda has become a rich old lawyer sustained by his lesbian friend Keiko, whose shallow dabbling in Japanese antiquity Mishima mocks as a failure to reach the dark blood spring of the empire's roots. Honda is impotent from beginning to end, though he finds spasms of joy in control - one of Mishima's preoccupations - of a young man, Toru, who Honda thinks may be one of the chosen, a tribe of beautiful and fierce people mystically marked to die at 20. Instead of dying, Tom becomes blind and inert; Honda finds an eerie extinction in an abbey. A lore of angels - sentient, superior, but mortal beings - permeates the book, along with Mishima's cult of the body and muted throughts about suicide. Toru's inhumanity and utter selfishness is what draws Honda to him: "a workerless factory, polished to a perfection of utter bleakness, Honda's mature self-awareness in juvenile form." Mishima killed himself in 1970 at the age of 45, the morning he wrote the last word of this book. The title of the tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility, betokens the dead sea of the moon, said Mishima, and "superimposes the image of cosmic nihilism." Fastidiously, distantly written, conscious of its atmosphere of evil, the book ends with a device, as the abbess tells Honda that perhaps sixty years of his life did not exist. A better key to Mishima is found in the young man's diary - "I have put together a delicate machine for feeling how it would be if I were to feel like a human being." (Kirkus Reviews)
A major literary creation
"The fourth and final book in Mishima's landmark tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility"
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