Thursday 6 December 2007
57. Thirst for Love
So, Mishima was kind of insane. Above you'll see a photo of him taken the day he publicly committed suicide. Having decided, once he conceived of his Sea of Fertility tetralogy, that he would kill himself the day he finished the last book (which he did), it is perhaps not surprising that death infuses most of his works in some capacity.
Thirst for Love was one of Mishima's earliest efforts, so I'm not sure the plan for the Sea of Fertility had even begun to germinate in his mind yet. Thus, the characters' meditations on death are not nearly as ominous, prolonged, or compelling as they become in later works. Thirst for Love does, nonetheless, move with determination towards a gruesome conclusion, the catalyst for which is the obsessive jealousy of the main character.
Etsuko has gone to live with her in-laws upon the sudden death of her young husband from Typhoid. She quickly falls into a sexual relationship with her father-in-law but really yearns for Subaro, one of the house's farm hands. As she obsesses on the young man, she becomes increasingly unhinged and this eventually leads to her murdering him.
The book was good, but it didn't have that intense, dreamlike quality that in my experience came to be Mishima's signature style. But there are certainly intimations of it here, and so I wasn't by any means disappointed with Thirst for Love.