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SUMMARY 天人五衰 Tennin Gosui

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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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. 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 navigate to their docks Obviously it was pre ordained that Honda finds him since he encounters him by simply wandering around the port Honda the lawyer who is another main character through the four volumes He is now 76 years old but he adopts the young boy He does this even though if the pattern holds he knows the boy will die at age 20 A sub theme tied in with the reincarnation is how Honda originally an associate justice in the national courts is initially all into rationalism and logic But when he meets the young boy gang leader in volume two Runaway Horses he notices three moles on his body identical to his deceased friend from years ago Despite his rationality he comes to believe the young boy is his old friend reincarnatedBut unlike in the other volumes the boy in The Decay of the Angel sets out to do evil thus the decay in the title I vow it that when I am twenty I will cast Father into hell I must start making plans The boy is attached to an ugly obese mentally ill young woman whom he eventually marries His evil starts out small getting his tutor dismissed but graduates to where he terrorizes his adoptive father by striking him with a poker He makes his four maids his mistressesAlthough you can pick up most of the back story in context it really helps to have to have read the whole series in seuence For those who want to read this book but have not read the preceding volumes here are brief summaries for each bookSpoiler for the first volume Spring Snow view spoilerThe plot revolves around a love story between a boy and the daughter of the neighboring household They have known each other all their lives and she has loved him since they were children But his feelings toward her are on again off again he mistreats her and pretends he doesn t care for her Finally she gives up on him and becomes engaged to a son of a noble family actually a member of the Emperor s household At this point she s 21 he s 19 and after the engagement has been approved by the Emperor himself finally he decides he loves her and begins to pursue her They begin a sexual relationship and she becomes pregnant If word of any of this gets out it would be the euivalent of a national scandal When the boy s father learns what is going on after spending his whole life ass kissing the emperor and the nobles to say he is apoplectic is putting it mildly Never having lifted a hand to his son before he beats him with a pool cue She enters a convent and the son later dies of a disease hide spoiler

Yukio Mishima ☆ 8 SUMMARY

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. 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 much to me than any other novel of his since it documented his last thoughts before his poetic demise The finished manuscript waited on the desk as he turned his life into the Line of Poetry written with a splash of Blood that he had longed for letting his fictional world collapse along with him in a poetic climax He will always be one of the most honest and poetically destructive writers that has ever lived May he rest in peace

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 reinca

  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 pag

  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 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

  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 wri

  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 much to me than any other novel of his since it documented his last thoughts before his poetic demise The finished manuscript waited on the desk as he turned his life into the Li

  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 memories as Honda said with the sunlight streaming on the trees

  8. says:

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

  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

  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 angels are celestial beings who live in the sixth realm of rebirth Those with good karma can b