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In Thirst for Love, Japan's greatest modern writer created a portrait of sexual torment and corrosive jealousy that is as delicately nuanced as Madame Bovary and as remorseless as Justine. Yukio Mishima's protagonist is Etsuko, whose philandering husband has died horribly from typhoid. The young widow moves into the household of her father-in-law, where she numbly submits In Thirst for Love, Japan's greatest modern writer created a portrait of sexual torment and corrosive jealousy that is as delicately nuanced as Madame Bovary and as remorseless as Justine. Yukio Mishima's protagonist is Etsuko, whose philandering husband has died horribly from typhoid. The young widow moves into the household of her father-in-law, where she numbly submits to the old man's advances. But soon Etsuko falls in love with the young servant, Saburo. Tormented by his indifference yet invigorated by her anguish, she makes one last, catastrophic bid for his attention. Stunningly acute in its perceptions, excruciating in its psychological suspense, Thirst for Love is a triumph of eroticism, terror, and compassion.


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In Thirst for Love, Japan's greatest modern writer created a portrait of sexual torment and corrosive jealousy that is as delicately nuanced as Madame Bovary and as remorseless as Justine. Yukio Mishima's protagonist is Etsuko, whose philandering husband has died horribly from typhoid. The young widow moves into the household of her father-in-law, where she numbly submits In Thirst for Love, Japan's greatest modern writer created a portrait of sexual torment and corrosive jealousy that is as delicately nuanced as Madame Bovary and as remorseless as Justine. Yukio Mishima's protagonist is Etsuko, whose philandering husband has died horribly from typhoid. The young widow moves into the household of her father-in-law, where she numbly submits to the old man's advances. But soon Etsuko falls in love with the young servant, Saburo. Tormented by his indifference yet invigorated by her anguish, she makes one last, catastrophic bid for his attention. Stunningly acute in its perceptions, excruciating in its psychological suspense, Thirst for Love is a triumph of eroticism, terror, and compassion.

30 review for Thirst for Love

  1. 5 out of 5

    Praj

    A pair of woollen socks! The solitary blue- brown image lingered in my pathetic thoughts, weeks after I had closed down the book. Verses had angrily left me, words refused to find a refuge within my wits and leisurely Mishima’s manuscript had melted into an obscure viscosity leaving behind only the recurring images of a mystified Etsuko and the pair of socks. For weeks I lived with that graphic, gaudily enhancing as the night darkened with every passing hour. How could a harmless pair of socks f A pair of woollen socks! The solitary blue- brown image lingered in my pathetic thoughts, weeks after I had closed down the book. Verses had angrily left me, words refused to find a refuge within my wits and leisurely Mishima’s manuscript had melted into an obscure viscosity leaving behind only the recurring images of a mystified Etsuko and the pair of socks. For weeks I lived with that graphic, gaudily enhancing as the night darkened with every passing hour. How could a harmless pair of socks from Hankyu departmental store bring reckless audacity, such tenderness and then knit a violent despair? Could the diabolical nature of the socks stir up with the slightest tap of human emotions? Were those socks diabolical as the humans tend to become? “What had given this courage? The thunder? The two pair of socks she had just purchased?” Symbolism seizes the pivotal core plunging and deciphering a limitless world beyond human mediocrity. Given Mishima’s palpable affinity towards the art of Noh , the evident usage of significant cryptograms of socks, typhoid, the lion mask , the hospital ward and the mattock among the others , spells every intricate nuances of a capricious face veiled behind a stoic Noh mask. Mishima’s astute narration on the premise of a reluctant heart and cataclysmic love flows into a theatrical Noh prism where the ghosts of the past erect skeletons in the present imprisoning the desires of a heart in a ruthless world. “In the moment a captive lion steps out of his cage, he possesses a wider worlds than the lion who has known only the worlds. While he was in captivity, there were only two worlds to him- the world of the cage and the world outside the cage. Now he is free. He roars. He attacks people, eats them. He is not satisfied for there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage.” A captured heart alien to the world of benevolent love; its reception caged behind the daunting fetters of loneliness and alienation. The burdened heart roars for emancipation from seclusion. The longing to love, the autonomy to love consumed in powerlessness to love. The heart perplexed in a world of duplicity and social repression succumbs to lunacy of obsession and vengeance for it does not know the sincerity of love , as there is no ‘third world’ beyond the emptiness of love, apart from death. Etsuko in her passivity, through her fatal love becomes a destructive yet pitiable figure hampered by her own quest against rising trepidations over her covetousness and its subsequent demise. Mishima elucidates on Etsuko’s temperament by articulating, “she found in the emptiness of her hopes the purest of meanings” A widow of a philanderer husband resides with her lascivious father-in-law in the grimy countryside. Yakichi Sugimoto’s conflicted household was a laborious abode of repulsive absurdities. The prejudices of Chieko and Kensuske floated among the wooden interiors of the household, conjectures of biased moralities hovering over the Sugimoto’s budding illicit associations with Etsuko mirrored through Etsuko’s orphaned existence, her gratification for such dire circumstances vocalized through anaesthetizing her thoughts. Etsuko’s infatuation for Saburo resurrected the primitive naivety previously misplaced in a frigid matrimony. The abundance of love and the intensity of a genuine sexual pleasure derived from the uttered enthusiasm for Saburo fetched a reprieving life-force. Even so, the reception for deliverance was cremated by feverish ravings of covetousness and shadows of Etsuko’s disaffections and guilt. “A feeling of liberation should contain a bracing feeling of negation, in which liberation itself is not agitated.” The protracted abandonment wallowing in the niggling emptiness dominated Estuko’s overwhelming arrogance enslaving her to the creativity of unquenchable passion and the eventual annihilation. The freedom to experience the power of her sexuality cowed to the socially repressive environment tightening Etsuko inescapability from the ongoing tussle of implausible passion v/s the banality of social mores and life as a whole. The tantalizing sight of a half-naked Saburo during the dance at the Autumn Festival of the Hachiman Shrine fiercely clashed her morality into vehemence of her sexuality. Mishima highlights the quintessence of a woman’s sexuality in a communally despotic culture and the acerbic reconstruction of its perversion of a toxic love. ‘Thirst’ develops into a symbolic gesticulation, hunger for implacable desires. Love becomes the timeless nectar guzzled ravenously by a vacant parched heart, incurable, suffocating the vagueness of pain and pleasure. “ The word 'love' had no proper place.” Etsuko was the fated romantic hero in a world where love was misplaced behind the countless agonies, fatigued by the dilemmas of egotistical hunger trapped between the insatiable nature of vengeance and obsession. ; the authentic self polluted by grotesque incongruity. Is love diabolical then? Anger, sorrow, fear, joy; each flourishing sentiment has its eminence on the arousing empathetic dais. Love, however clandestinely incarnates itself baffling the psychosomatic rationalities. The solitary heartfelt emotion coquettishly fleets teasing the human psyche with aspiring gentleness to reincarnate into diversified oblique sentimentalities. Love had metamorphosed into a dreadful entity for Etsuko , love had no proper place then , only proper death. The pair of socks is surely not diabolical after all. For not only did they bring back free flowing verses, but the hued woollen marvels also kept my feet warm while I typed the above words. ** [ the photographic illustrations are taken from the 1967 movie adaptation of the novel. ‘Ai no Kawaki’starring the lovely Ruriko Asako ]**

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jr Bacdayan

    What is it that prompts us to love? Is it something we have no say in, helplessly falling to its schemes unaware of its happening or is it something we push ourselves into like a drug we so insanely search for. Is it truly a person that is the object of our affection and insanity or is it merely an independent feeling we cultivate in us and then attach to the person most convenient? Thirst for Love is a shattering depiction of self-depravity. Etsuko is a broken woman beyond repair, hunted by the What is it that prompts us to love? Is it something we have no say in, helplessly falling to its schemes unaware of its happening or is it something we push ourselves into like a drug we so insanely search for. Is it truly a person that is the object of our affection and insanity or is it merely an independent feeling we cultivate in us and then attach to the person most convenient? Thirst for Love is a shattering depiction of self-depravity. Etsuko is a broken woman beyond repair, hunted by the scars left by her torturous husband. No, her name is not the battered wife. Her wounds run deeper; in the recesses of her persona her scabs and sores rot and give off a stench. She is a human being whole on the outside, but inside she is filled with fissures and rents. These cracks invisible to the eye, but readily felt, is infinitely more pronounced than the superficial kind remedied with ointment. Etsuko was subjected to an intense psychological torment that imbedded in her soul was the unwavering belief that she was unwanted, unneeded, and unloved. And so as a way to cope, at the center of her being, wrapped by all she held dear, she cultivated an intense jealousy she worshipped. However the hands of fate interfere with her life and her philandering tormentor of a husband acquires a grave illness. Oh how she reveled in his pain and misery! Oh how she celebrated his every call for help by mentioning her name! And in his dying moments, she was the model wife, not out of love or affection, but out of insane happiness rooted in her knowledge that her jealousy and suffering was bound to flourish stronger than she had known. And so when he was gone, her devil snuffed, she moved in with her husband’s family never more broken, but in her brokenness dwelled her strength. The shattered woman then finds herself in a game of emotional cat-and-mouse. Her proud father-in-law, Yakichi, took her as his own and greedily immersed in her womanhood. Her damaged heart endured, but she finds relief in the eyes of their innocent manservant Saburo. And so she is entangled in a web that tests not their capacity to love, but their ability to endure hurting. Etsuko revels in her pain, in her jealousy. She enjoys the stifling danger of the precarious status quo that at any moment can snap and destroy them all. But then the pangs of love slowly overtake her jealousy and she starts to ache for a resolution that can only bring them all to ruin. We all have a need to be loved, this beautiful oasis we all long for and worship. But will we really die without this paradise, this love from another? This longing, is it so vital to our survival? Can we not draw water from our own wells to feed our thirst? Here is a woman who never knew that her own thirst could be quenched by the spring inside her. Her brokenness left her blind to the pool in her that would have given her life. This pool that reflects, that teaches us accepting who we are and learning to love ourselves is the first step towards the oasis. That to be loved by another, we must first see that there is something to be loved inside of us, and even without it, we can realize that the water of our wells, our appreciation if not love for the self, is more than enough to sustain us. This function was lost to Etsuko, maybe broken by her suffering, and it proved to be her bane. Thirst for love is the story of a woman who only asked that she be loved but was denied. A broken woman, already shattered to pieces, yet is crushed by her own need for salvation. It is thoroughly haunting, nevertheless in her hopeless struggle flashes of intense beauty overwhelmed, the kind of melancholy beauty that only lingers in the tragic, a kind of beauty that grabs the heart and never lets go. The image of a drowning woman comes to mind. She rebels against her fate and strives for the surface with all her might, but the more she fights, the more she sinks into oblivion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Magdalene

    Really odd coincidence in a way that I picked up this novel last night. I was so stunned by it that I wrote a review straight away. I wasn't going to type it up till later but then I got so annoyed by reading the retarded reviews on Amazon I decided to do it now, while coffeed up. People are such stupid pods, just because they actually read books doesn't seem to make them sensitive or intelligent. Most of them completely missed the subtleties...maybe because most of the reviewers on Amazon are m Really odd coincidence in a way that I picked up this novel last night. I was so stunned by it that I wrote a review straight away. I wasn't going to type it up till later but then I got so annoyed by reading the retarded reviews on Amazon I decided to do it now, while coffeed up. People are such stupid pods, just because they actually read books doesn't seem to make them sensitive or intelligent. Most of them completely missed the subtleties...maybe because most of the reviewers on Amazon are male for some reason. Most reviewers generally are I suppose. Women are trained not to value their own opinions, and men are trained to value theirs too much. "Beggars show you their wounds to make you sorry for them. They're horrible. Madam is like some kind of proud beggar." Mishima is a very unusual man in many ways but most of all in his ability to create impressive female characters. It's hard to think of any other male author who can do this. I suppose it's a result of being locked in a room with his grandmother for most of his childhood. She apparently was a fearful and possibly quite insane matriarch, who did not allow him any freedom except in her vast library. No wonder he is also a master of creating oppressive and dysfunctional atmospheres, such as the one that permeates this novel. Etsuko is not just impressive, but quite complex and frightening, and her psychosis is clearly explicable and understandable, which makes her disturbingly easy to identify with. Her madness is really just an extreme version of the very common romantic delusion that turns love into a kind of twisted spiritual quest to heal one's wounds by inflicting pain on others. Her obsession is almost like vampirism, though that is a crude analogy, this idea of an unquenchable hunger is reflected in the title. It makes you think about the energy dynamics involved in the urge to "own" a lover. And about extreme possessiveness as a kind of mania to control and take over a person, psychically as much as sexually. And also of course as a symptom of the rank betrayal which Etsuko experienced in her marriage. The way Mishima portrays her is in fact very sympathetic. He clearly admires her intensity and her sensitivity. She is a sophisticated and intelligent woman, who after her disasterous marriage to a philanderer ends in his gruesome death from Typhoid, moves to the country to live on his fathers farm. She and the father have a strange intimate relationship, which at first seems like abuse, but is soon revealed as quite mutually beneficial. She doesn't enjoy his physical attentions but it gives her a power in the household and over him. The old man is in awe of her, and very jealous when she forms an obsession for a young farm labourer. She in turn is furiously jealous of the young mans relationship with one of the maids. In fact jealousy is her vice, her addiction, which might be why she chose to marry the philanderer in the first place. The younger man himself is without any sentiment. He doesn't understand the concept of Love at all, or even guess that he is beloved, though it is so obvious to everyone else. He is a perfect symbol of youthful callousness. The whole situation is doomed to disaster. From his perspective she is crazy. In fact from any perspective...to fall in love so obsessively is a form of insanity, but even more so when the object is such a vacant and simple character. It's almost as if it is his very blankness, the shining young ignorant emptiness of him that she is so engrossed with. I suppose the blank screen is always best suited for projection. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to cause herself the maximum possible pain, but the situation also says a lot about class, and about the reality of the hierarchical system. There can be no meaningful communication between them, and that is what she fails to comprehend. This total incomprehension somehow translates into obsession, I think because truly understanding someone makes it impossible to maintain such delusions. Even at the end when the penny finally drops there can be no physical connection between them. She does not want his lust but rather his Love, which of course does not exist, and this fine distinction I think is what makes this novel far more interesting and thought provoking than others with a similar theme. As usual Mr Mishima has made my head explode. Nice to know someone out there can still do that.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    Tradition vs Modernity Masculinity vs Femininity Old vs New Pride vs Zeal Fear vs Necessity and the splash of Blood that paints it all.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    I wasn't really feeling this until the scene at the shrine festival, where something cracks and the story falls into place as Saburo mans up and gets sexy. Before then, vague Etsuko appears to be lusting after a pre-pubescent half-wit. I thought Etsuko came through the story rather well, considering everything that happens to her. I assume she's the defence's star witness when Mishima is accused of misogyny? When Saburo said "I love you" to avoid an awkward conversation, I thought "the dumb cow's I wasn't really feeling this until the scene at the shrine festival, where something cracks and the story falls into place as Saburo mans up and gets sexy. Before then, vague Etsuko appears to be lusting after a pre-pubescent half-wit. I thought Etsuko came through the story rather well, considering everything that happens to her. I assume she's the defence's star witness when Mishima is accused of misogyny? When Saburo said "I love you" to avoid an awkward conversation, I thought "the dumb cow's going to fall for it!" but she was ahead of me and read the situation the best. Yakichi, however, is further proof that Mishima just hates old people. Although the Sugimoto family have land and staff, there's something strangely suburban about the location and attitudes. The women are always cooking or washing-up and we hear about the order in which they take their baths. It feels like the first Mishima I've read set in the commuter belt. I liked Kensuke and Chieko and their commentary on their suburban nightmare. Things I learnt from this book: a) There's a fruit called "pomelo". b) The Takarazuka all-female musical theatre company is named after the Hankyu-Takarazuka railway line. "Yakichi said 'Why were you in his room?' 'I went to look for his diary' Yakichi's mouth moved indistinctly. He said nothing more." "'Sometimes jiltings run in series – like miscarriages. Her nervous system has just got into the habit of it, I suppose, and when she falls in love it has to end in a miscarriage.'" "People who only wear ready-made clothes are apt to doubt the very existence of tailors." "The magnitude of pain leads people to believe in the indestructability of the body." "'But why, why, did you kill him?' 'He was making me suffer, that's why.' 'But it wasn't his fault.' 'Not his fault? That's not so. He got what he deserved for hurting me. Nobody has the right to cause me pain. Nobody can get away with that.' 'Who says they can't?' 'I say so. And what I say, no one can change.' 'You’re a terrifying woman.'"

  6. 5 out of 5

    Samir Rawas Sarayji

    Thirst for Love is a powerful psychological narrative and, sadly, a technically flawed book. The choices and overall execution by the author destroy what could have been a haunting, memorable antihero. To start off with, Mishima’s omniscient point of view in this book makes no sense. The focus shifts constantly between the narrator and Etsuko—the protagonist—with occasional random shifts to other characters that really does not add any substance. Then there are the triple-layered Etsuko narrativ Thirst for Love is a powerful psychological narrative and, sadly, a technically flawed book. The choices and overall execution by the author destroy what could have been a haunting, memorable antihero. To start off with, Mishima’s omniscient point of view in this book makes no sense. The focus shifts constantly between the narrator and Etsuko—the protagonist—with occasional random shifts to other characters that really does not add any substance. Then there are the triple-layered Etsuko narratives, by which I mean the narrator is following Etsuko, then we are in Etsuko’s point of view, and then we are suddenly in Etsuko’s head reading her thoughts… but none of this sub-layering serves the story. What Mishima is doing here is clumsy. The narrator is an annoying commentator. Etsuko's thoughts are often nothing more than existential reflections that seem to be a window for the author to make us think deeper rather than believe what Etsuko would be feeling without all these imposed thought interjections. The only valid voice, the necessary POV is that of Etsuko. Etsuko is suffering—she has an intense crush, she has an intense hatred, she has intense jealousy—these are raw emotions full of destructive energy, they are not moments of existential crises and reflection, they are moments of action. Then she went on in the same way: “At that rate, when you got back here and Miyo wasn’t here, it worked out perfectly, didn’t it?” Her words were half thought, half spoken. She had difficulty distinguishing between soliloquy that kept insistently repeating itself in her mind and the soliloquy that she uttered. In dreams, seedlings mature instantly into fruit-bearing trees, and small birds become winged horses. So in Etsuko’s trance, outlandish hopes waxed into shape of hopes capable of immediate realization. What if I am the one Saburo has loved? I will have to be bold and try to find out. I must not even think that what I anticipate will not come true. If my hopes come true, I shall be happy. It’s that simple. Thus Etsuko pondered. Hopes for whose fruition one does not fear, however, are hopes so much as, in the last analysis, a species of desperation. “All right; but, then, who in the world do you love? Etsuko asked. The weakness in this structure is Mishima’s fear that the reader will not understand Etsuko’s plight without being spoon fed every logical nuance that leads to her action or inaction. But by his unfounded anxiety, Mishima has ended up practically telling me everything, and with so little shown, there is no room for emotional resonance. Handled differently, I would have felt pain and desolation and frustration on behalf of Etsuko, instead of a boring indifference to her suffering. It is really strange that the most unusual thread is not explored, much less developed, i.e. Etsuko being a widow is now her father-in-law’s mistress. Instead, her infatuation with Saburo, a younger, handsome man is the focus. Emotionally, there is no reason why she should not fall for Saburo. Yet I am to take for granted her current situation with her father-in-law, and somehow feel her pain for the somewhat unattainable Saburo. Is it normal in the culture that the widow of the son become the father-in-law’s mistress? And what about the pregnant Miyo who we never know anything of anymore? Then there are the plethora of metaphors throughout the book. It sometimes read like an author imposing a quota on himself to produce as many metaphors as possible, and this detracted from the more needed sense of emotional urgency. Some of the metaphors work and really capture the essence of the moment: Like an author who thinks himself a genius because his books don’t sell, he felt that his not being asked to lecture anywhere was evidence that the world was not ready for his message. But others fall flat or are cringe-worthy: The two sofas and eleven chairs in the drawing room, long untouched by human hand, were very much like girls worn out with waiting. …Ouch! With all that aside, the greatest affront in this novel is the climax. It came across as completely ridiculous and unbelievable. I do not wish to give it away for anyone who may want to read the book, although I would say there are better books out there, but it was so sudden and unexpected that it read like a cheap device to enthrall rather than to instigate an emotional chord. With a rushed denouement that does not even round up the story appropriately, I was left jarred and irritated at such a clumsy book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    Mishima followed up Confessions of a Mask with a book that was purposefully completely different. From the first-person coming of age tale of a young queer man to a third-person story of a woman who is lusted after by her dead husband's father. It's a departure in every sense. This book is far too conventional for Mishima. It doesn't seem to include any of his trademarks and any trace of the Mishima we know and adore seems to be missing here. The novel itself is fine. The story trundles alon Mishima followed up Confessions of a Mask with a book that was purposefully completely different. From the first-person coming of age tale of a young queer man to a third-person story of a woman who is lusted after by her dead husband's father. It's a departure in every sense. This book is far too conventional for Mishima. It doesn't seem to include any of his trademarks and any trace of the Mishima we know and adore seems to be missing here. The novel itself is fine. The story trundles along and there are admirable parts (especially the ending) but not much else. It's a shame.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Capsguy

    That was intense. Hard to believe he wrote it in his early twenties, although you can see that he expanded upon a lot of elements in his later books: the frailty, hysteria, and ease of manipulation of women; the youthful and masculine man who is adored by these women and in a position to use them for his own gain; and the older man, manipulating the feelings felt by others for his own gain. See Forbidden Colours, published a couple years later. As usual with Mishima, one of the most significant f That was intense. Hard to believe he wrote it in his early twenties, although you can see that he expanded upon a lot of elements in his later books: the frailty, hysteria, and ease of manipulation of women; the youthful and masculine man who is adored by these women and in a position to use them for his own gain; and the older man, manipulating the feelings felt by others for his own gain. See Forbidden Colours, published a couple years later. As usual with Mishima, one of the most significant focuses and his trademarks is the psychological depth and the corresponding build up of each character. Even though this is only 200 pages, the mind-frame switches from time to time, although the story is generally focused around a spiteful widow seeking for her own perverted pleasures/gains, Etsuko, who is a mistress to her own widowed husband's father. Dysfunctional characters, the close line between rage and love, and sexual tension make for this a typical Mishima novel. Although, you can see how well his characterisation of older characters matured in later books, cannot but help that his own persona was reflected in Saburo, with less effective emphasis made on other important characters like Yakichi. Regardless, a solid short novel, especially considering that I tend to have less receptive views for novels focused or through the perspectives of females. I do not know why. Could be that I have issues with 'feeling' the character, although this was not really an issue with me for this reading, further heralding Mishima's talent.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fulya İçöz

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I've been reading Mishima for nearly 15 years. His work has always amazed me. But there are two particularly good books: After the Banquet and Thirst for Love. Thirst For Love is an early work of Mishima yet it's well-crafted. The relationships between the characters and Etsuko's gradual madness resulting in murder are attentively portrayed. The name of the book is Thirst for Love, the main character Etsuko suffers from not getting enough of love and compassion. In the first part of the book ( I I've been reading Mishima for nearly 15 years. His work has always amazed me. But there are two particularly good books: After the Banquet and Thirst for Love. Thirst For Love is an early work of Mishima yet it's well-crafted. The relationships between the characters and Etsuko's gradual madness resulting in murder are attentively portrayed. The name of the book is Thirst for Love, the main character Etsuko suffers from not getting enough of love and compassion. In the first part of the book ( I separate the book in two sections not Mishima), the lack of connection between Etsuko and her husband causes Etsuko's abnormal jealousy and in my opinion breeds the very seeds of her madness. The edge of madness is not yet to come. During the first part of the book, the plot is relatively calm but it's only the beginning. After her husband dies Etsuko starts living with her father-in-law and her husband's family. There she grows a kind of compassion or interest towards the young servant Saburo. However, Saburo lacks depth and consciousness Etsuko seeks for. Only she cannot perceive this. In the second part of the book, we see the climax of the story. The festival scene where all the passion and truth are revealed. In this scene, I believe Mishima is the master of his art. The colourful depiction of the scene in which Etsuko touches Saburo's back and leaves crutches of a tigress and Saburo's ignorance of it, the perfect conflict of the story. After the festivalm scene, the story speeds up with Miyo's pregnancy, Saburo and Miyo's marriage decision, Miyo's being sacked and the last section. The last section in which the harsh reality slaps Etsuko. Saburo will never ever love her because he doesn't feel deep and real emotions, and her reality too, she really doesn't crave for love, she's just obsessed. And it's a blind obsession. In delirium, she screams and kills Saburo. Now she can get rid of her pain, jealousy and obsession because she kills the very object of them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    "An overpowering, corrupting spirit seemed to hold her in invisible chains." A dark and disturbing novel, even for Mishima who can elevate the dark and disturbing to beautiful heights. He may have reached the heights of that here, in one of his earlier novels. A young widow, whose husband's last feverish days saw her in utter ecstasies watching him die, moves in with her father-in-law's family, has sex with the father-in-law and covets the simple-minded farmboy that works in the house. And that's "An overpowering, corrupting spirit seemed to hold her in invisible chains." A dark and disturbing novel, even for Mishima who can elevate the dark and disturbing to beautiful heights. He may have reached the heights of that here, in one of his earlier novels. A young widow, whose husband's last feverish days saw her in utter ecstasies watching him die, moves in with her father-in-law's family, has sex with the father-in-law and covets the simple-minded farmboy that works in the house. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! This is a kind of sensual, blackly spiritual harrowing into the hell of the self, probably unlike most of what you've read before, and with a truly horrifying, horrifying ending. Not recommended for fans of joy and/or goodness-in-others.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chitra Ahanthem

    In ‘Thirst for Love’, the main protagonist Etsuko is a young widow whose husband when alive was a philanderer who was will fully cruel to her. Etsuko’s longing for love and affection from her husband, her suppressed physical desires make her into a person she can scant recognise herself. When her husband falls ill, she begins to take delight in the way she suffers when her husband’s physical wellbeing lies in her hands.   It is this almost sadistic masochistic streak that is seen as Etsuko’s calm In ‘Thirst for Love’, the main protagonist Etsuko is a young widow whose husband when alive was a philanderer who was will fully cruel to her. Etsuko’s longing for love and affection from her husband, her suppressed physical desires make her into a person she can scant recognise herself. When her husband falls ill, she begins to take delight in the way she suffers when her husband’s physical wellbeing lies in her hands.   It is this almost sadistic masochistic streak that is seen as Etsuko’s calm demeanour when she comes to live in the family household presided over by her father in law, who soon takes advantage of her body. She does not fight off his attentions nor welcome it. Her only indifference to the situation around her is the presence of the youthful Saburo,a household help who is the manifestation of someone over whom she thinks she has a hold.   Mishima writes in the only way he does: taking the readers straight into the insides of a Japanese society where sociocultural mores call for stoic correctness even as there are layers beneath that throb of primeval emotions. His characters seek neither judgment nor sympathy from readers: he offers none and they are what they are – human beings given to jealousy and rage, cynical and selfish, dismissiveness and cruel. Read Mishima if you are keen to discover Japanese classic literature.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Guillermo Galvan

    Thirst for Love has the tragedy of Shakespeare, the romantic scandal of a soap opera, and the brutality of a back alley stabbing. I was hesitant about reading this book because a lot of reviewers underscored it, claiming he was too young when he wrote it. It isn't his best work, but it's still damn good. Thirst for Love is a masterful portrayal of insane jealousy taking place in a psychologically suffocating environment. Read this book if you have an interest in emotionally disturbing literature. T Thirst for Love has the tragedy of Shakespeare, the romantic scandal of a soap opera, and the brutality of a back alley stabbing. I was hesitant about reading this book because a lot of reviewers underscored it, claiming he was too young when he wrote it. It isn't his best work, but it's still damn good. Thirst for Love is a masterful portrayal of insane jealousy taking place in a psychologically suffocating environment. Read this book if you have an interest in emotionally disturbing literature. This book is a precursor to his later masterpiece The Golden Temple. His early development is fascinating to read. Although it isn't Mishima's best, I never felt Thirst for Love was underdeveloped when taken as an individual work.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Yukio Mishima committed ritualistic suicide or seppuku shortly after I returned home from Vietnam in 1970. It made an enormous impact on me. Why would a man in the prime of his life and on the verge of winning the Nobel Prize for literature kill himself? It is a question I continue to ponder. I have read most of his books since then and love them. This is one I had not read yet. Here he is speaking about dying for a cause: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt3lj... Here he is speaking in English, a Yukio Mishima committed ritualistic suicide or seppuku shortly after I returned home from Vietnam in 1970. It made an enormous impact on me. Why would a man in the prime of his life and on the verge of winning the Nobel Prize for literature kill himself? It is a question I continue to ponder. I have read most of his books since then and love them. This is one I had not read yet. Here he is speaking about dying for a cause: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt3lj... Here he is speaking in English, a bit hard to understand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPAZQ... Here is a BBC documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ctufj... I highly recommend the movie Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters if you want to learn more about him and his works.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vishy

    After reading a couple of books by Yasunari Kawabata, I thought I'll read a book by Yukio Mishima. I picked 'Thirst for Love'. First a few words on Yukio Mishima. Mishima was one of the great Japanese writers of the twentieth century. He was also one of the most handsome. He wrote many books, including novels and plays. His most famous books are probably 'The Temple of the Golden Pavilion' and 'The Sea of Fertility' tetralogy, which is regarded as his magnum opus. He was expected to win the Nobel After reading a couple of books by Yasunari Kawabata, I thought I'll read a book by Yukio Mishima. I picked 'Thirst for Love'. First a few words on Yukio Mishima. Mishima was one of the great Japanese writers of the twentieth century. He was also one of the most handsome. He wrote many books, including novels and plays. His most famous books are probably 'The Temple of the Golden Pavilion' and 'The Sea of Fertility' tetralogy, which is regarded as his magnum opus. He was expected to win the Nobel Prize for literature during his lifetime, but he didn't. He died at the young age of forty-five, by committing Sepukku (or Harakiri as it is popularly known). Now about the book. Etsuko is a young woman and the main character in the story. When she loses her husband, her father-in-law Yakichi invites her to come and live in his farm with his other two grown-up children. Yakichi's son and daughter live with him in different parts of the house and help out in the farm. They are both married and have children. Yakichi used to work in a shipping company and when he retired he was the President of the company. After retiring, he decides to move to the countryside and buy a farm and manage it. His wife and children oppose that move, but then they move with him and now help him out in the farm. Yakichi's wife passes away after a few years. When Etsuko moves into her father-in-law's house, she is given a special status by him, which annoys his two children. But they still try to be friendly with her. After a while, Yakichi starts making advances on Etsuko. While these things are going on, Etsuko is attracted towards Saburo, who is a servant and gardener who is working there. To complicate things further, the cook and maid Miyo loves Saburo. How these feelings of different characters evolve and how the complex events of the story unfold is told in the rest of the book. This is my first proper Yukio Mishima book. Though I have read parts of 'The Temple of the Golden Pavilion', I couldn't finish reading it then. So I didn't know what to expect. Though I was expecting that the story would be a bit dark, based on past experience. It is. We experience the story most of the time through Etsuko's eyes and so we empathize with her. Though sometimes the point of view changes, we continue to be on 'Team Etsuko'. But as the complex story evolves and one thing leads to another, at some point we are no longer sure what to think. The characters in the story, including our favourite Etsuko, are complex, imperfect, flawed, real. When we read about Etsuko's feelings towards Saburo and Saburo's simple-minded ignorance and response to that – it is so beautifully expressed by Mishima. Yakichi's eldest son Kensuke and Kensuke's wife Chieko come through initially as two characters who gossip and plot behind other people's backs, but as we continue reading our heart warms up to them. One of my favourite conversations in the story happens between them. It goes like this. Chieko : "You don't have it quite straight. I meant you were a plain, ordinary man of the house." Kensuke : "Ordinary? Wonderful! The highest point at which human life and art meet is in the ordinary. To look down on the ordinary is to despise what you can't have. Show me a man who fears being ordinary, and I'll show you a man who is not yet a man. The earliest days of the haiku, before Basho, before Shiki, were filled with the vigor of an age in which the spirit of the ordinary had not died." Chieko : "Yes, and your haiku show the ordinary at its highest point of development." The other characters in the story are also well fleshed out including Yakichi, Saburo and Miyo. A complex story like this will have a complex ending. Yukio Mishima ensures that it does. I won't tell you what it is. You have to read the book to find out. I enjoyed reading 'Thirst for Love'. I am glad I finally read my first Mishima book. I can't wait to read more. I am sharing below some of my favourite passages from the book. Mishima's prose is very beautiful and very different from Kawabata's. Read it for yourself and tell me whether you find it different. "She was not religious, yet like devoutly religious women, Etsuko found in the emptiness of her hopes the purest of meanings...Not thinking about things was the basis of Etsuko's contentment. It was her reason for being." "A feeling of liberation should contain a bracing feeling of negation, in which liberation itself is not negated. In the moment a captive lion steps out of his cage, he possesses a wider world than the lion who has known only the wilds. While he was in captivity, there were only two worlds to him – the world of the cage, and the world outside the cage. Now he is free. He roars. He attacks people. He eats them. Yet he is not satisfied, for there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage." "In those three short days of Saburo's absence, the feeling that developed with his absence – whatever the feeling – was to me entirely new. As a gardener who, after long care and toil, holds in his hand a marvelous peach, hefts the weight of it, and feels the joy of it, so I felt the weight of his absence in my hand and reveled in it. It would not be true to say that those three days were lonely. To me his absence was a plump, fresh weight. That was joy! Everywhere in the house I perceived his absence – in the yard, in the workroom, in the kitchen, in his bedroom." Have you read Yukio Mishima's 'Thirst for Love'? What do you think about it? Which is your favourite Mishima book?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nabilah Firdaus

    Depressing tale of Etsuko, a widow who just lost her husband who didn’t love her, where she subsequently submits numbly to her father in law’s desire for her but soon find herself in love with her young servant, Saburo. A tale of love, jealousy, overwhelming destructive human desire. My first Yukio Mishima and damn, that was one hell of a read. The messages and symbolism of the story are almost perfect considering that this book was written in Mishima’s early 20s. Very violent and disturbing read Depressing tale of Etsuko, a widow who just lost her husband who didn’t love her, where she subsequently submits numbly to her father in law’s desire for her but soon find herself in love with her young servant, Saburo. A tale of love, jealousy, overwhelming destructive human desire. My first Yukio Mishima and damn, that was one hell of a read. The messages and symbolism of the story are almost perfect considering that this book was written in Mishima’s early 20s. Very violent and disturbing read, best not to read when you are in a blue mood. Loved the characters, Etsuko and Saburo especially. Etsuko’s obsession was brilliantly explained and Saburo’s oblivious to such feelings was simple but fairly well crafted (I especially loved Saburo’s characterization at the end of the book) I thought that this story would end in a typical manner, BOY WAS I WRONG. The ending has me at loss for words. Fairly twisted and disturbing. My actual rating: 3.9/5 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gia Salvaggio

    This book brings together poetic prose mixing with intricate details of the everyday life and balances between the mundane and the limits of boredom it can bring while exploring the fears and hope of love. It might not be the most entertaining book I’ve read but it is certainly one that will stay with me for a long time. Etsuko’s character and her quest to find love again, her fear to lose it once more, is a sad but understandable part of this woman’s journey. The tragedy, along the merging of h This book brings together poetic prose mixing with intricate details of the everyday life and balances between the mundane and the limits of boredom it can bring while exploring the fears and hope of love. It might not be the most entertaining book I’ve read but it is certainly one that will stay with me for a long time. Etsuko’s character and her quest to find love again, her fear to lose it once more, is a sad but understandable part of this woman’s journey. The tragedy, along the merging of human nature and sentiments bring the story together to create a tale underlined in darkness with burst of sunburst throughout. Reading somehow Thirst For Love reminded me of watching movies by Yasujirō Ozu and just expended my quench of Japanese literature.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nikolaj Lauritsen

    "Who would know that the tears with which I washed my husband through his dying hours were shed in grief for the passing of the passion that has brightened those hours for me?" "Who would know that the tears with which I washed my husband through his dying hours were shed in grief for the passing of the passion that has brightened those hours for me?"

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Mishima presents the story of a young Japanese widow who is the mistress of her father-in-law; he does so in oppressive naturalistic prose, jealousy dominates the householding. The stress is on the in-depth psychological description, especially towards the end: for each spoken sentence Mishima offers a page of description of the emotions and the circumstances. I read this very long ago. At the time it didn't spoke that much to me, but I suspect it would now; it's on my to be re-read list. (2.5 s Mishima presents the story of a young Japanese widow who is the mistress of her father-in-law; he does so in oppressive naturalistic prose, jealousy dominates the householding. The stress is on the in-depth psychological description, especially towards the end: for each spoken sentence Mishima offers a page of description of the emotions and the circumstances. I read this very long ago. At the time it didn't spoke that much to me, but I suspect it would now; it's on my to be re-read list. (2.5 stars)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Freddie

    It was OK, nothing mind-blowing. Perhaps it was because I was reading the story while being ridden with anxiety that I could not focus very well, Etsuko just came across very unlikeable, selfish, and manipulative - overall just an unsympathetic character. She was literally blinded by a mix of passion and rage, it was annoying and excruciating to watch.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    Wonderfully written but oh so boring. I might not have been in the right mood for this but I think it should have ended 100 pages earlier. It only gains a star because of its descriptive style.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rahul Singh

    There is something about Japanese fiction that draws me to itself and makes me fall in love with whatever authors from Japan have to offer. This book and the author is one such discovery. It is the story of a widow named Estuko who has moved to the house of her father-in-law after her husband’s death. Not only is she vexed with the boring, slow life in the Japanese countryside topped by her father-in-law’s sexual advances, she is also struggling with coming to terms with her own desires and emot There is something about Japanese fiction that draws me to itself and makes me fall in love with whatever authors from Japan have to offer. This book and the author is one such discovery. It is the story of a widow named Estuko who has moved to the house of her father-in-law after her husband’s death. Not only is she vexed with the boring, slow life in the Japanese countryside topped by her father-in-law’s sexual advances, she is also struggling with coming to terms with her own desires and emotions. In midst of pleasing her father-in-law, she realises she is thirsty for the love of their help, Saburo. The book is a journey that takes us to what her attraction, obsession with a working class boy, her own desires does to the lives in the green, quiet life of the Japanese village bursting with fruits and festivals of joy every now and then. This book also reminded me of a Shakespearean play which I shall not mention here and which I leave for you to discover as you read the book. As for the style, I loved the writing and the credit goes to the translator of the book as well. There was something subtle yet haunting in the way the book was written. The first scene of the book among many others shall always remain etched in my mind in the days or years to come. I couldn’t stop myself from gobbling the book and enjoy the slowness that captured some insane, radical desires of a group of people who challenge what’s normal. That’s all, I don’t wish to write anymore about this book. It is a short book, do read it if you get the chance.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sana Abdulla

    I leave this book confused, is this just an unhappy family in its own way, or is this a reflection of the culture as a whole? Everybody isn't shocked by what we consider shocking - the patriarch taking his widowed daughter in law on as a mistress just months after his son's death - but they cringe at things far less immoral like firing a maid for no apparent reason. They also understand what's going on without fail, who is lying, who is doing what to who, motives behind ordinary actions, just thr I leave this book confused, is this just an unhappy family in its own way, or is this a reflection of the culture as a whole? Everybody isn't shocked by what we consider shocking - the patriarch taking his widowed daughter in law on as a mistress just months after his son's death - but they cringe at things far less immoral like firing a maid for no apparent reason. They also understand what's going on without fail, who is lying, who is doing what to who, motives behind ordinary actions, just through innocent banter and body language alone. For example the family is walking to a festival and they hear some night birds, a woman comments that they sound like a baby crying, and everybody understands that she is criticising her sister in law's parental skills. The book is not boring but difficult to grasp, there is too much of one thing and too little of the other.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Reid

    Hell hath no fury like a woman on the verge... Let Mishima detail the ways. “In the moment a captive lion steps out of her cage, she possesses a wider world than the lion who has known only the wilds…Now she is free. She roars. She attacks people. She eats them. Yet she is not satisfied, for there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage.” "Assuredly, daily life is a ridiculous thing...she was a woman none would call old...Yet (the old man) was her onl Hell hath no fury like a woman on the verge... Let Mishima detail the ways. “In the moment a captive lion steps out of her cage, she possesses a wider world than the lion who has known only the wilds…Now she is free. She roars. She attacks people. She eats them. Yet she is not satisfied, for there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage.” "Assuredly, daily life is a ridiculous thing...she was a woman none would call old...Yet (the old man) was her only echo, her only reverberation..." “Until the moment of her death, it seemed, no one would know she was drowning.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Locky

    One of Mishima's more mediocre works. All the elements that comprise a typical Mishima novel are here - a protagonist with a death wish, violence, the portrayal of aging as a terrible thing... yet none of it combines as successfully as some of his other writings. Even the prose which is usually exemplary of the delicate eastern touch is missing - I don't know if it was lost in translation or just neglected by Mishima himself. One of Mishima's more mediocre works. All the elements that comprise a typical Mishima novel are here - a protagonist with a death wish, violence, the portrayal of aging as a terrible thing... yet none of it combines as successfully as some of his other writings. Even the prose which is usually exemplary of the delicate eastern touch is missing - I don't know if it was lost in translation or just neglected by Mishima himself.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nikola Novaković

    A deeply strange and haunting tragedy that reads like a meditation on what it means to love.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Poornima Vijayan

    After 'The Sailor Who Fell..', this book didn't meet the expectations I'd formed of Yukio Mishima's work. I know, I know.. expectation and misery. But, the book is very powerful. The many complexities of the human mind and the relationships that form because of this is very evocatively told by Mishima. No doubt that he's a master storyteller. After 'The Sailor Who Fell..', this book didn't meet the expectations I'd formed of Yukio Mishima's work. I know, I know.. expectation and misery. But, the book is very powerful. The many complexities of the human mind and the relationships that form because of this is very evocatively told by Mishima. No doubt that he's a master storyteller.

  27. 4 out of 5

    RI

    Great Yukio Mishima.....once more has been overflown with astonishing feelings.....

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lysergius

    Wonderful descriptive prose brings alive the countryside where the action of the novel takes place. The theme jealousy is as old as the hills, but the outcome something other.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    Reading this "Thirst for Love" by Yumiko Mishima was mysteriously disappointing as compared to his "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion" or "The Sea of Fertility," the romance-cum-tragedy tetralogy. However,"Death in Midsummer and Other Stories" is not included here due to its different genre. One of the reasons, I think, is that I found reading both uniquely enjoyable and kept in mind as his admirable standard but, contrasively, I kept reading this novel, nothing touching or sentimental perceived Reading this "Thirst for Love" by Yumiko Mishima was mysteriously disappointing as compared to his "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion" or "The Sea of Fertility," the romance-cum-tragedy tetralogy. However,"Death in Midsummer and Other Stories" is not included here due to its different genre. One of the reasons, I think, is that I found reading both uniquely enjoyable and kept in mind as his admirable standard but, contrasively, I kept reading this novel, nothing touching or sentimental perceived till nearly the unimaginable climactic end of the story, I can't help wondering if Etsuko has done too far and why. However, I tell myself it's just something done in the name of drama, not logic or law. [To continue]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beverlee Jobrack

    I think Mishima is a powerful writer--his imagery and cadence. He writes in prose poetry. But I had trouble connecting with the people in the novel and found it difficult to sympathize or care about them. I wanted to feel the sympathetic humiliation of the infidelity of Etsuko's husband and her relationship with her father in law, but I could not. She was so restrained yet seething, so alone, but unsympathetic. Is this a metaphor for Japan after the war? A thought provoking book but difficult to I think Mishima is a powerful writer--his imagery and cadence. He writes in prose poetry. But I had trouble connecting with the people in the novel and found it difficult to sympathize or care about them. I wanted to feel the sympathetic humiliation of the infidelity of Etsuko's husband and her relationship with her father in law, but I could not. She was so restrained yet seething, so alone, but unsympathetic. Is this a metaphor for Japan after the war? A thought provoking book but difficult to embrace.

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