Thirst for Love by Yukio Mishima

by Kristopher Cook
Thirst for Love by Yukio Mishima - Book Review - Kristopher Cook

Beautiful poetic prose that mixes with the intricate details of everyday life; that’s the essence of this delightful book, written by Yukio Mishima in 1950.

Thirst for Love centres on Etsuko, who struggles to come to terms with the death of her husband. She moves in with her father-in-law, who makes numerous advances towards her. However, Etsuko begins to develop feelings for Saburo, a young servant living with the family. Torn between her feelings, Etsuko must decide which path will lead her to long-term happiness.

Mishima does tend to look into the intricacies of everyday life, much like the classic films of Ozu. There’s a delicacy finely balanced between the functioning of every day, and the boredom of seeing it unfold.

I love that simple soul. I even go so far as to think that there is nothing so beautiful in this world in the simple spirit in the simple body.
Yukio Mishima, Thirst for Love

Unfortunately, there are times when the novel does border into those territories.

Despite this, the writing is engaging; bringing forth a real sense of sadness on behalf of Etsuko and her predicament.

The relationships between the characters are dynamic and evolve throughout the book. When specific incidents occur, or moments of emotion are displayed, each reacts uniquely to the other’s needs.

Mishima’s portrayal of a women seeking love is both endearing and incredibly sad. It’s easy to associate with Etsuko’s character along with the longing she feels for wanting to find love again, especially after losing it the first time around.

Etsuko’s passive nature means that she’s moved around without setting down any foundations, not making changes for her needs, but for the sake of others. Likewise, this drive for love can only prove to be fatal because of the often malicious and destructible people who are trying to control her for their own selfish desires.

Closing Thoughts

Despite a few gripes, and plodding moments Thirst for Love is a great book that packs considerable emotional weight.

If you’re a fan of film director Ozu (mentioned above), then I’m sure you’ll love this book, along with Mishima’s style of writing. Otherwise, I’d say you need to be patient here and try to look for the subtle moments of interaction between characters and take pleasure in those instead.

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