The Sea of Fertility is a tetralogy, that is, a four-part "cycle", if you will, authored by the prolithic Japanese author/director/playwriter/many-other-things Yukio Mishima.

He first conceived the idea for The Sea of Fertility in 1964, and told Donald Keene that he would die when it was completed. As many of you Mishima afficiandos know, the fateful November 25th, 1970 event, which marked his committing of seppuku after taking over the Defense Force facility in Ichigaya, was the day he finished The Decay of the Angel, the final novel in the cycle, thus completing his own death prophecy.

"The title, The Sea of Fertility," he told Keene, "is intended to suggest the arid sea of the moon that belies its name. Or I might say that it superimposes the image of cosmic nihilism on that of the fertile sea."

The cycle("tetralogy") is as follows(in this order):

The main theme of the cycle deals with the reincarnation of a sprit, each time having to face different issues and recurring themes that seems to haunt it throughout it's many "lives", most notable of which is the erosion of the Japanese society as a whole at the hands of outside influences and changing times in general. Each of the novels depict a different reincarnation of the same being: first as a young aristocrat in 1912 Tokyo, then as a political fanatic in the 1930s, as a Thai princess before and after World War II, and as an evil young orphan in the 1960s.

Personally, I was deeply moved by the first two novels and am currently reading the third as we speak. Vintage Press international has an english edition of all the books available for sale at most reputable book stores, if you're into that sort of thing. At times like this, I suppose you Japanese speaking members of this community are the lucky ones, because you can read the originals. :P

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