This startling and haunting novel starts with the early death of Etsuko’s philandering husband. With this, she is force to moves into her father-in-law’s house which she numbly succumbs to things favorable to the old man. But soon find herself madly in love with the young, naïve, and handsome servant Saburo. Unmindful of their obvious differences, Etsuko is determined to fulfill her hidden desire toward the unsuspecting young man even with the presence of a catastrophic consequence.
Although the novel is slow in pace at the first couple of chapters, it sums up and explodes in the last few pages which make the conclusion surprising enough to make it unforgettable. Mishima’s narrator is as convincing as his others and doesn’t hold barred which makes it much more confessional that it also attracts sympathy although Etsuko acts violently and critically. I also find Etsuko’s psychology compelling, her jealousy exciting, her obsession short-sighted and her rants’ absorbing.
Published in 1950, Thirst for Love is one of Mishima’s early novels written shortly after his phenomenal semi-autobiographical novel, Confessions of a Mask. Although this is possibly not one of Mishima’s great novels it succeeds to show some of the painful reality of the human condition, the unattainment of love. It’s no wonder someone acts drastic and violently just to acquire something they want. The title in my opinion is a bit detached with the story and just blurs our perception to love. Does Mishima just try to illustrate that to love someone doesn’t necessarily mean not to inflict pain on the subject of our feelings? That caring for someone we like the same with to inflict pain to the ones’ we love and is considered also as a form of love? Is love a feeling for someone or just one of human’s complicated manner?
I recommend this not just only to Mishima fans but for everyone who’s interested in a portrayal of the complicated human psyche, its cruelty and the wicked ways human did for love.
Opening Sentence: That day Etsuko went to the Hankyu department store and bought two pairs of wool socks.
Ending Sentence: I choose not to reveal the last sentences for fear of spoiling readers.