The Sea of Fertility: A Cycle of Four Novels. Yukio Mishima, Michael Gallagher, Cecila Segawa Seigle, E. Dale Saunders, Edward G. Seidensticker.

The Sea of Fertility: A Cycle of Four Novels. Spring Snow; Runaway Horses; The Temple of Dawn; The Decay of the Angel

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972-74. 1st US Editions. 4 vols., octavo, publisher's buff cloth, spines and upper boards variously stamped in metallic colors, top edges variously stained in colors, original illustrated dust jackets.

"For everything sacred has the substance of dreams and memories, and so we experience the miracle of what is separated from us by time or distance suddenly being made tangible. Dreams, memories, the sacred—they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp" (from Spring Snow). First US editions of towering Japanese postwar writer, actor, model, film director, and nationalist (he was deemed "Japan's Renaissance man" for a reason) Mishima's sweeping, late-career tetralogy: Spring Snow (1972 - originally published in Japan in 1969), Runaway Horses (1973/1969), The Temple of Dawn (1973/1970), and The Decay of the Angel (1974/1971). Sensuous, imaginative, and progressively nihilistic, Mishima's magnum opus both represents a climax of 20th-century decadent Japanese literature and provides insight into his obsessive assertions of the unity of beauty, eroticism, and death (notably, Mishima claimed Georges Bataille as the European thinker for whom he felt the most affinity). A prolific creator, Mishima's literary work is often overshadowed by his controversial life and death: he was the founder of Tatenokai, a private militia in Japan dedicated to traditional Japanese values, and later killed himself by the gruesome ritual suicide method of seppuku, after having that very day delivered the final installment of his tetralogy. Although his reason for committing suicide had at one point been attributed to a failed coup attempt at Japan's military headquarters, it was later discovered that Mishima had been planning to carry out the act for over a year. Gift inscription to front endpaper of vol. I; gift note laid in to vol. III. Offsetting to endpapers and pastedowns from binder's glue to vol. III; some foxing to endpapers and edges of vol. IV, with boards of same slightly bowed. Unclipped dust jackets with only occasional edgewear. Overall, a very good or better set, uncommon complete in first editions. Item #2482