Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow is the first novel in his masterful tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility. Here we meet Shigekuni Honda, who narrates this epic tale of what he believes are the successive reincarnations of his friend, Kiyoaki Matsugae. It is 1912 in Tokyo, and the hermetic world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders — rich provincial families unburdened by tradition, whose money and vitality make them formidable contenders for social and political power. Shigekuni Honda, an aspiring lawyer and his childhood friend, Kiyoaki Matsugae, are the sons of two such families. As they come of age amidst the growing tensions between old and new, Kiyoaki is plagued by his simultaneous love for and loathing of the spirited young woman Ayakura Satoko. But Kiyoaki’s true feelings only become apparent when her sudden engagement to a royal prince shows him the magnitude of his passion — and leads to a love affair both doomed and inevitable.