In this final part of Mishima's tetralogy, Honda has become a rich old lawyer sustained by his lesbian friend Keiko, whose...

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THE DECAY OF THE ANGEL

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.

Pub Date: April 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974