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三島 由紀夫
Yukio Mishima

photograph by Shirou Aoyama (1956)
Born January 14, 1925(1925-01-14)
Shinjuku, Tokyo
Died November 25, 1970 (aged 45)
JSDF headquarters, Tokyo
Pen name Yukio Mishima
Occupation novelist, playwright, poet,
short story writer, essayist
Nationality Japanese
Ethnicity Japanese
Citizenship Japanese
Alma mater University of Tokyo
Period 1944–1970
Children Noriko Tomita (Daughter), Iichiro Hiraoka (Son)

Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫 Mishima Yukio?) was the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威 Hiraoka Kimitake?, January 14, 1925–November 25, 1970), a Japanese author, poet and playwright, also remembered for his ritual suicide by seppuku.

Contents

Early life

Mishima in his childhood (ca. April 1931)

Mishima was born in the Yotsuya district of Tokyo (now part of Shinjuku). His father was Azusa Hiraoka, a government official, and his mother, Shizue, was the daughter of a school principal in Tokyo. His paternal grandparents were Jotarō and Natsuko Hiraoka. He had a younger sister named Mitsuko, who died of typhus, and a younger brother named Chiyuki.

Mishima's early childhood was dominated by the shadow of his grandmother, Natsu, who took the boy and separated him from his immediate family for several years.[3] Natsu was the illegitimate granddaughter of Matsudaira Yoritaka, the daimyo of Shishido in Hitachi Province, and had been raised in the household of Prince Arisugawa Taruhito; she maintained considerable aristocratic pretensions even after marrying Mishima's grandfather, a bureaucrat who had made his fortune in the newly opened colonial frontier and who rose to become Governor-General of Karafuto. She was also prone to violence and morbid outbursts, which are occasionally alluded to in Mishima's works.[4] It is to Natsu that some biographers have traced Mishima's fascination with death.[5] Natsu did not allow Mishima to venture into the sunlight, to engage in any kind of sport or to play with other boys; he spent much of his time alone or with female cousins and their dolls.[4]

Mishima returned to his immediate family at 12. His father, a man with a taste for military discipline, employed such tactics as holding the young boy up to the side of a speeding train; he also raided Mishima's room for evidence of an "effeminate" interest in literature and often ripped up the boy's manuscripts.

Schooling and early works

Young Mishima in school uniform (ca. February 1940)

At age six, Mishima enrolled in elite Peers School (Gakushuin 学習院).[6] At 12, Mishima began to write his first stories. He read voraciously the works of Oscar Wilde, Rainer Maria Rilke and numerous classic Japanese authors. After six years at school, he became the youngest member of the editorial board in its literary society. Mishima was attracted to the works of Tachihara Michizō, which in turn created an appreciation for the classical form of the waka. Mishima's first published works included waka poetry, before he turned his attention to prose.

He was invited to write a prose short story for the Peers' School literary magazine and submitted Hanazakari no Mori (花ざかりの森 The Forest in Full Bloom), a story in which the narrator describes the feeling that his ancestors somehow still live within him. Mishima’s teachers were so impressed with the work that they recommended it for the prestigious literary magazine, Bungei-Bunka (文芸文化 Literary Culture). The story, which makes use of the metaphors and aphorisms which later became his trademarks, was published in book form in 1944, albeit in a limited fashion (4,000 copies) because of the wartime shortage of paper. In order to protect him from a possible backlash from his schoolmates, his teachers coined the pen-name "Yukio Mishima".

Mishima's story Tabako (煙草 The Cigarette), published in 1946, describes some of the scorn and bullying he faced at school when he later confessed to members of the school's rugby union club that he belonged to the literary society. This trauma also provided material for the later story Shi o Kaku Shōnen (詩を書く少年 The Boy Who Wrote Poetry) in 1954.

Mishima received a draft notice for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. At the time of his medical check up, he had a cold and spontaneously lied to the army doctor about having symptoms of tuberculosis and thus was declared unfit for service.

Although his father had forbidden him to write any further stories, Mishima continued to write secretly every night, supported and protected by his mother, who was always the first to read a new story. Attending lectures during the day and writing at night, Mishima graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1947. He obtained a position as an official in the government's Finance Ministry and was set up for a promising career.

However, Mishima had exhausted himself so much that his father agreed to his resigning from his position during his first year in order to devote his time to writing.

Post-war literature

Mishima was a disciplined and versatile writer. He wrote not only novels, popular serial novellas, short stories and literary essays, but also highly acclaimed plays for the Kabuki theater and modern versions of traditional Noh drama.

Mishima began the short story Misaki nite no Monogatari (岬にての物語 A Story at the Cape) in 1945, and continued to work on it through the end of World War II. In January 1946, he visited famed writer Yasunari Kawabata in Kamakura, taking with him the manuscripts for Chūsei (中世 The Middle Ages) and Tabako, and asking for Kawabata’s advice and assistance. In June 1946, per Kawabata's recommendations, Tabako was published in the new literary magazine Ningen (人間 Humanity).

Also in 1946, Mishima began his first novel, Tōzoku (盗賊 Thieves), a story about two young members of the aristocracy drawn towards suicide. It was published in 1948, placing Mishima in the ranks of the Second Generation of Postwar Writers. He followed with Confessions of a Mask, a semi-autobiographical account of a young latent homosexual who must hide behind a mask in order to fit into society. The novel was extremely successful and made Mishima a celebrity at the age of 24. Around 1949, Mishima published a series of essays in Kindai Bungaku on Yasunari Kawabata, for whom he had always had a deep appreciation.

His writing gained him international celebrity and a sizable following in Europe and America, as many of his most famous works were translated into English. Mishima traveled extensively; in 1952 he visited Greece, which had fascinated him since childhood. Elements from his visit appear in Shiosai (潮騒 Sound of the Waves), which was published in 1954, and which drew inspiration from the Greek legend of Daphnis and Chloe.

Mishima made use of contemporary events in many of his works. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion in 1956 is a fictionalization of the burning of the famous temple in Kyoto. Utage no Ato (After the Banquet), published in 1960, so closely followed the events surrounding politician Hachirō Arita's campaign to become governor of Tokyo that Mishima was sued for invasion of privacy.[citation needed] In 1962, Mishima's most avant-garde work, Utsukushii Hoshi (Beautiful Star), which at times comes close to science fiction, was published to mixed critical response.

Mishima was among those considered for the Nobel Prize for Literature three times and was the darling of many foreign publications. However, in 1968 his early mentor Kawabata won the Nobel Prize and Mishima realized that the chances of it being given to another Japanese author in the near future were slim. It is also believed[citation needed] that Mishima wanted to leave the prize to the aging Kawabata, out of respect for the man who had first introduced him to the literary circles of Tokyo in the 1940s.

Acting

Mishima was also an actor, and he had a starring role in Yasuzo Masumura's 1960 film, Afraid to Die. He also has had roles in films including Yukoku (1966), Black Lizard (1968) and Hitokiri (1969). He also sang the theme song for Hitokiri.

Private life

Yukio Mishima (lower) with Shintarō Ishihara in 1956.

In 1955, Mishima took up weight training and his workout regimen of three sessions per week was not disrupted for the final 15 years of his life. In his 1968 essay Sun and Steel, Mishima deplored the emphasis given by intellectuals to the mind over the body. Mishima later also became very skillful at kendō.

Although he visited gay bars in Japan, Mishima's sexual orientation remains a matter of debate, though his widow wanted that part of his life downplayed after his death.[7] However, several people have claimed to have had homosexual relationships with Mishima, including writer Jiro Fukushima who, in his book, published a revealing correspondence between himself and the famed novelist. Soon after publication, Mishima's children successfully sued Fukushima for violating Mishima's privacy.[8] After briefly considering a marital alliance with Michiko Shōda—she later became the wife of Emperor Akihito—he married Yoko Sugiyama on June 11, 1958. The couple had two children, a daughter named Noriko (born June 2, 1959) and a son named Ichiro (born May 2, 1962).

In 1967, Mishima enlisted in the Ground Self Defense Force (GSDF) and underwent basic training. A year later, he formed the Tatenokai (Shield Society), a private army composed primarily of young students who studied martial principles and physical discipline, and swore to protect the Emperor. Mishima trained them himself. However, under Mishima's ideology, the emperor was not necessarily the reigning Emperor, but rather the abstract essence of Japan. In Eirei no Koe (Voices of the Heroic Dead), Mishima actually denounces Emperor Hirohito for renouncing his claim of divinity at the end of World War II.

In the last 10 years of his life, Mishima wrote several full length plays, acted in several movies and co-directed an adaptation of one of his stories, Patriotism, the Rite of Love and Death. He also continued work on his final tetralogy, Hōjō no Umi (Sea of Fertility), which appeared in monthly serialized format starting in September 1965.

Yukio Mishima Incident

On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four members of the Tatenokai, under pretext, visited the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp—the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan's Self-Defense Forces.[7] Inside, they barricaded the office and tied the commandant to his chair. With a prepared manifesto and banner listing their demands, Mishima stepped onto the balcony to address the soldiers gathered below. His speech was intended to inspire a coup d'etat restoring the powers of the emperor. He succeeded only in irritating them, however, and was mocked and jeered. He finished his planned speech after a few minutes, returned to the commandant's office and committed seppuku. The customary kaishakunin duty at the end of this ritual had been assigned to Tatenokai member Masakatsu Morita, but Morita was unable to properly perform the task: after several attempts, he allowed another Tatenokai member, Hiroyasu Koga, to behead Mishima.

Another traditional element of the suicide ritual was the composition of jisei no ku (death poems) before their entry into the headquarters.[9] Mishima planned his suicide meticulously for at least a year and no one outside the group of hand-picked Tatenokai members had any indication of what he was planning. His biographer, translator and former friend John Nathan suggests that the coup attempt was only a pretext for the ritual suicide of which Mishima had long dreamed.[10] Mishima made sure his affairs were in order and left money for the legal defence of the three surviving Tatenokai members.

Aftermath

Much speculation has surrounded Mishima's suicide. At the time of his death he had just completed the final book in his The Sea of Fertility tetralogy.[7] He was recognized as one of the most important post-war stylists of the Japanese language.

Mishima wrote 40 novels, 18 plays, 20 books of short stories, and at least 20 books of essays, one libretto, as well as one film. A large portion of this oeuvre comprises books written quickly for profit, but even if these are disregarded, a substantial body of work remains.

Politics

Mishima espoused a very individual brand of nationalism towards the end of his life. He was hated by leftists, in particular for his outspoken and anachronistic commitment to bushidō (the code of the samurai) and by mainstream nationalists for his contention, in Bunka Bōeiron (文化防衛論 A Defense of Culture), that Hirohito should have abdicated and taken responsibility for the war dead.

Awards

Major works

Japanese Title English Title Year English translation, year ISBN
假面の告白
Kamen no Kokuhaku
Confessions of a Mask 1948 Meredith Weatherby, 1958 ISBN 0-8112-0118-X
愛の渇き
Ai no Kawaki
Thirst for Love 1950 Alfred H. Marks, 1969 ISBN 4-10-105003-1
禁色
Kinjiki
Forbidden Colors 1953 Alfred H. Marks, 1968–1974 ISBN 0-375-70516-3
潮騷
Shiosai
The Sound of Waves 1954 Meredith Weatherby, 1956 ISBN 0-679-75268-4
金閣寺
Kinkaku-ji*
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion 1956 Ivan Morris, 1959 ISBN 0-679-75270-6
鏡子の家
Kyōko no Ie
Kyoko's House 1959   ISBN
宴のあと
Utage no Ato
After the Banquet 1960 Donald Keene, 1963 ISBN 0-399-50486-9
午後の曳航
Gogo no Eikō
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea 1963 John Nathan, 1965 ISBN 0-679-75015-0
絹と明察
Kinu to Meisatsu
Silk and Insight 1964 Hiroaki Sato, 1998 ISBN 0-7656-0299-7
三熊野詣
Mikumano Mōde
(short story)
Acts of Worship 1965 John Bester, 1995 ISBN 0-87011-824-2
サド侯爵夫人
Sado Kōshaku Fujin
(play)
Madame de Sade 1965 Donald Keene, 1967 ISBN 0-394-17304-X
憂國
Yūkoku
(short story)
Patriotism 1966 Geoffrey W. Sargent, 1966 ISBN 0-8112-1312-9
真夏の死
Manatsu no Shi
Death in Midsummer and other stories 1966 Edward G. Seidensticker, Ivan Morris,
Donald Keene, Geoffrey W. Sargent, 1966
ISBN 0-8112-0117-1
葉隠入門
Hagakure Nyūmon
Way of the Samurai 1967 Kathryn Sparling, 1977 ISBN 0-465-09089-3
わが友ヒットラー
Waga Tomo Hittorā
(play)
My Friend Hitler and Other Plays 1968 Hiroaki Sato, 2002 ISBN 0-231-12633-6
太陽と鐡
Taiyō to Tetsu
Sun and Steel 1970 John Bester ISBN 4-7700-2903-9
豐饒の海
Hōjō no Umi
The Sea of Fertility tetralogy: 1964-
1970
  ISBN 0-677-14960-3
  I. 春の雪
  Haru no Yuki
   1. Spring Snow 1968 Michael Gallagher, 1972 ISBN 0-394-44239-3
  II. 奔馬
  Honba
   2. Runaway Horses 1969 Michael Gallagher, 1973 ISBN 0-394-46618-7
  III. 曉の寺
  Akatsuki no Tera
   3. The Temple of Dawn 1970 E. Dale Saunders and Cecilia S. Seigle, 1973 ISBN 0-394-46614-4
  IV. 天人五衰
  Tennin Gosui
   4. The Decay of the Angel 1970 Edward Seidensticker, 1974 ISBN 0-394-46613-6

*For the temple called Kinkaku-ji, see Kinkaku-ji.

Plays for classical Japanese theatre

In addition to contemporary-style plays such as Madame de Sade, Mishima wrote for two of the three genres of classical Japanese theatre: Noh and Kabuki (as a proud Tokyoite, he would not even attend the Bunraku puppet theatre, always associated with Osaka and the provinces).[11]

Though Mishima took themes, titles and characters from the Noh canon, his twists and modern settings, such as hospitals and ballrooms, startled audiences accustomed to the long-settled originals.

Donald Keene translated Five Modern Noh Plays (Tuttle, 1981; ISBN 0-8048-1380-9). Most others remain untranslated and so lack an "official" English title; in such cases it is therefore preferable to use the rōmaji title.

Year Japanese Title English Title Genre
1950 邯鄲
Kantan
Noh
1952 卒塔婆小町
Sotoba Komachi
Komachi at the Stupa (gravepost) Noh
1954 鰯賣戀曳網
Iwashi Uri Koi Hikiami
Dragnet of a Sardine-Seller's Love Kabuki
1955 綾の鼓
Aya no Tsuzumi
The Damask Drum Noh
1955 芙蓉露大内実記
Fuyō no Tsuyu Ōuchi Jikki
The Ōuchi Clan (oversimplified/not standardised) Kabuki
1956 班女
Hanjo
Noh
1956 葵の上
Aoi no Ue
The Lady Aoi Noh
1965 弱法師
Yoroboshi
The Blind Young Man Noh
1969 椿説弓張月
Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki
The Crescent, or Crescent Moon: The Adventures of Tametomo, literally "The Strange Theory of a Paper Lantern's Appearance" Kabuki

Films

Year Title USA Release Title(s) Character Director
1951 純白の夜
Jumpaku no Yoru
Unreleased in the U.S.   Hideo Ōba
1959 不道徳教育講座
Fudōtoku Kyōikukōza
Unreleased in the U.S. himself Katsumi Nishikawa
1960 からっ風野郎
Karakkaze Yarō
Afraid to Die Takeo Asahina Yasuzo Masumura
1966 憂国
Yūkoku
The Rite of Love and Death
Patriotism
Shinji Takeyama Domoto Masaki, Yukio Mishima
1968 黒蜥蝪
Kurotokage
Black Lizard Human Statue Kinji Fukasaku
1969 人斬り
Hitokiri
Tenchu! Shimbei Tanaka Hideo Gosha
1985 Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters   Paul Schrader
Music by Philip Glass
The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima
(BBC documentary)
The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima   Michael Macintyre

Photo modeling

Mishima has been featured as a photo model in Ba-ra-kei: Ordeal by Roses by Eikoh Hosoe, as well as in Young Samurai: Bodybuilders of Japan and OTOKO: Photo Studies of the Young Japanese Male by Tamotsu Yatō. Donald Richie gives a short lively account[12] of Mishima, dressed in a loincloth and armed with a sword, posing in the snow for one of Tamotsu Yato's photoshoots.

Works about Mishima

  • Ba-ra-kei: Ordeal by Roses by Eikō Hosoe and Mishima (photoerotic collection of images of Mishima, with his own commentary) (Aperture 2002 ISBN 0-89381-169-6)
  • Deadly Dialectics: Sex, Violence, and Nihilism in the World of Yukio Mishima by Roy Starrs (University of Hawaii Press, 1994, ISBN 0-8248-1630-7 and ISBN 0-8248-1630-7)
  • Escape from the Wasteland: Romanticism and Realism in the Fiction of Mishima Yukio and Oe Kenzaburo (Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series, No 33) by Susan J. Napier (Harvard University Press, 1995 ISBN 0-674-26181-X)
  • Mishima: A Biography by John Nathan (Boston, Little, Brown and Company 1974, ISBN 0-316-59844-5)
  • Mishima ou la vision du vide (Mishima : A Vision of the Void), essay by Marguerite Yourcenar trans. by Alberto Manguel 2001 ISBN 0-226-96532-5)
  • Rogue Messiahs: Tales of Self-Proclaimed Saviors by Colin Wilson (Mishima profiled in context of phenomenon of various "outsider" Messiah types), (Hampton Roads Publishing Company 2000 ISBN 1-57174-175-5)
  • The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima, by Henry Scott Stokes London : Owen, 1975 ISBN 0-7206-0123-1)
  • The Madness and Perversion of Yukio Mishima by Jerry S. Piven. (Westport, Connecticut, Praeger Publishers, 2004 ISBN 0-275-97985-7)
  • Teito Monogatari {vol. 5–10) by Hiroshi Aramata (a fantasy/historical novel featuring Mishima as a central character contending with malignant spiritual forces which feed off his nationalist pride), (Kadokawa Shoten ISBN/ASIN 4041690056)
  • Yukio Mishima by Peter Wolfe ("reviews Mishima's life and times, discusses, his major works, and looks at important themes in his novels," 1989, ISBN 0-8264-0443-X)
  • Yukio Mishima, Terror and Postmodern Japan by Richard Appignanesi (2002, ISBN 1-84046-371-6)
  • Mishima's Sword–Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend by Christopher Ross (2006, ISBN 0-00-713508-4)
  • Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), a film directed by Paul Schrader
  • Yukio Mishima: Samurai Writer, a BBC documentary on Yukio Mishima, directed by Michael Macintyre, (1985, VHS ISBN 978-1-4213-6981-5, DVD ISBN 978-1-4213-6982-2)
  • Yukio Mishima, a play by Adam Darius and Kazimir Kolesnik, first performed at Holloway Prison, London, in 1991, and later in Finland, Slovenia and Portugal.

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c Waagenar, Dick, and Iwamoto, Yoshio (1975). "Yukio Mishima: Dialectics of Mind and Body". Contemporary Literature, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Winter, 1975), pp. 41-60
  2. ^ a b Yamanouchi,Hisaaki (1972). "Mishima Yukio and his Suicide". Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1 (1972), pp. 1-16
  3. ^ Profile of Yukio Mishima (1925–1970)
  4. ^ a b glbtq Entry Mishima, Yukio (1925-1970). Retrieved on 2007-2-6.
  5. ^ Profile Yukio Mishima (January 14, 1925 - November 25, 1970. 2007 February 2–6.
  6. ^ "Guide to Yamanakako Forest Park of Literature( Mishima Yukio Literary Museum)". http://www.mishimayukio.jp/history.html. Retrieved 20 October 2009.  "三島由紀夫の年譜". http://www.mishimayukio.jp/history.html. Retrieved 20 October 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c Mishima: Film Examines an Affair with Death by Michiko Kakutani. New York Times. September 15, 1985.
  8. ^ Sato, Hiroaki (2008-12-29). "Suppressing more than free speech" (HTML). The View from New York (The Japan Times). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/rss/eo20081229hs.html. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  9. ^ Donald Keene, The Pleasures of Japanese Literature, p.62
  10. ^ Nathan, John. Mishima: A biography, Little Brown and Company: Boston/Toronto, 1974.
  11. ^ Donald Keene, Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan, Columbia University Press, 2008. ISBN 0231513488 Cf. Chapter 29 on Mishima in New York
  12. ^ Donald Richie, The Japan Journals: 1947-2004, Stone Bridge Press (2005), pp. 148–149.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

At no time are we ever in such complete possession of a journey, down to its last nook and cranny, as when we are busy with preparations for it.

Yukio Mishima (1925-01-14 - 1970-11-25) was the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka, a Japanese novelist, playwright, essayist and short story writer.

Contents

Sourced

What transforms this world is — knowledge.
When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed.
  • What transforms this world is — knowledge. Do you see what I mean? Nothing else can change anything in this world. Knowledge alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed. You may ask what good is does us. Let's put it this way — human beings possess the weapon of knowledge in order to make life bearable. For animals such things aren't necessary. Animals don't need knowledge or anything of the sort to make life bearable. But human beings do need something, and with knowledge they can make the very intolerableness of life a weapon, though at the same time that intolerableness is not reduced in the slightest. That's all there is to it.
    • The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1959)
By means of microscopic observation and astronomical projection the lotus flower can become the foundation for an entire theory of the universe and an agent whereby we may perceive the Truth.
  • I've never done much, but I've lived my whole life thinking of myself as the only real man. And if I'm right, then a limpid, lonely horn is going to trumpet through the dawn some day, and a turgid cloud laced with light will sweep down, and the poignant voice of glory will call for me from the distance — and I'll have to jump out of bed and set out alone. That's why I've never married. I've waited, and waited, and here I am past thirty.
    • Ryuji, the sailor in The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea (1965), p. 38
  • According to Eshin's "Essentials of Salvation," the Ten Pleasures are but a drop in the ocean when compared to the joys of the Pure Land.
    • "The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love" in Death in Midsummer, and Other Stories (1966), p. 59
  • By means of microscopic observation and astronomical projection the lotus flower can become the foundation for an entire theory of the universe and an agent whereby we may perceive the Truth. And first we must know that each of the petals has eighty-four thousand veins and that each vein gives eighty-four thousand lights.
    • "The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love" in Death in Midsummer, and Other Stories (1966), p. 61
  • Just let matters slide. How much better to accept each sweet drop of the honey that was Time, than to stoop to the vulgarity latent in every decision. However grave the matter at hand might be, if one neglected it for long enough, the act of neglect itself would begin to affect the situation, and someone else would emerge as an ally. Such was Count Ayakura's version of political theory.
  • We tend to suffer from the illusion that we are capable of dying for a belief or theory. What Hagakure is insisting is that even in merciless death, a futile death that knows neither flower nor fruit has dignity as the death of a human being. If we value so highly the dignity of life, how can we not also value the dignity of death? No death may be called futile.
    • Yukio Mishima on Hagakure : The Samurai Ethic and Modern Japan (1977) as translated by Kathryn Sparling, p. 105; Mishima's commentary on the sayings of Yamamoto Tsunetomo.
I want to make a poem of my life.
  • How oddly situated a man is apt to find himself at the age of thirty-eight! His youth belongs to the distant past. Yet the period of memory beginning with the end of youth and extending to the present has left him not a single vivid impression. And therefore he persists in feeling that nothing more than a fragile barrier separates him from his youth. He is forever hearing with the utmost clarity the sounds of this neighboring domain, but there is no way to penetrate the barrier.
    • Runaway Horses (1969), as translated by Michael Gallagher (1973)
  • All my life I have been acutely aware of a contradiction in the very nature of my existence. For forty-five years I struggled to resolve this dilemma by writing plays and novels. The more I wrote, the more I realized mere words were not enough. So I found another form of expression.
    • As quoted in Mishima : A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
  • I want to make a poem of my life.
    • As quoted by Mishima's biographer, Henry Scott-Stokes in the documentary Yukio Mishima : Samurai Writer (1985)

Confessions of a Mask (1949)

As translated by Meredith Weatherby (1958) ISBN 0-8112-0118-X
My "act" has ended by becoming an integral part of my nature, I told myself. It's no longer an act.
  • Actually the action called a kiss represented nothing more for me than some place where my spirit could seek shelter.
    • p. 115
  • At no time are we ever in such complete possession of a journey, down to its last nook and cranny, as when we are busy with preparations for it. After that, there remains only the journey itself, which is nothing but the process through which we lose our ownership of it.
    • p. 118
  • Is there not a sort of remorse that precedes sin? Was it remorse at the very fact that I existed?
    • p. 144
  • My "act" has ended by becoming an integral part of my nature, I told myself. It's no longer an act. My knowledge that I am masquerading as a normal person has even corroded whatever of normality I originally possessed, ending by making me tell myself over and over again that it too was nothing but a pretense of normality. To say it another way, I'm becoming the sort of person who can't believe in anything except the counterfeit.
    • p. 153
  • I received an impassioned letter from Sonoko. There was no doubt that she was truly in love. I felt jealous. Mine was the unbearable jealousy a cultured pearl must feel toward a genuine one. Or can there be such a thing in this world as a man who is jealous of the woman who loves him, precisely because of her love?
    • p. 208
  • I had long since insisted upon interpreting the things that Fate forced me to do as victories of my own will and intelligence, and now this bad habit had grown into a sort of frenzied arrogance. In the nature of what I was calling my intelligence there was a touch of something illegitimate, a touch of the sham pretender who has been placed on the throne by some freak chance. This dolt of a usurper could not foresee the revenge that would inevitably be wreaked upon his stupid despotism.
    • p. 220
  • There is no virtue in curiosity. In fact, it might be the most immoral desire a man can possess.
    • p. 222

The Sound of Waves (1956)

As translated by Meredith Weatherby (19??) ISBN 0-679-75268-4
  • "I'll be going now," she said.
    Shinji made no answer and a surprised look came over his face. He had caught sight of a black streak that ran straight across the front of her red sweater.
    Hatsue followed his gaze and saw the dirty smudge, just in the spot where she had been leaning her breast against the concrete parapet. Bending her head, she started slapping her breast with her open hands. Beneath her sweater, which all but seemed to be concealing some firm supports, two gently swelling mounds were set to trembling ever so slightly by the brisk brushing of her hands.
    Shinji stared in wonder. Struck by her hands, the breasts seemed more like two small, playful animals. The boy was deeply stirred by the resilient softness of their movement.
    The streak of dirt was finally brushed out.
    • p. 31, ch. 4

Sun and Steel (1968)

Words are a medium that reduces reality to abstraction for transmission to our reason, and in their power to corrode reality inevitably lurks the danger that the words will be corroded too.
As translated by John Bester (2003) ISBN 4-770-02903-9
Only through the group, I realised — through sharing the suffering of the group — could the body reach that height of existence that the individual alone could never attain.
  • In its essence, any art that relies on words makes use of their ability to eat away — of their corrosive function — just as etching depends on the corrosive power of nitric acid.
    • p. 8
  • Words are a medium that reduces reality to abstraction for transmission to our reason, and in their power to corrode reality inevitably lurks the danger that the words will be corroded too. It might be more appropriate, in fact, to liken their action to excessive stomach fluids that digest and gradually eat away the stomach itself.
    Many people will express disbelief that such a process could already be at work in a person's earliest years. But that, beyond doubt, is what happened to me personally, thereby laying the ground for two contradictory tendencies within myself. One was the determination to press ahead loyally with the corrosive function of words, and to make that my life's work. The other was the desire to encounter reality in some field where words should play no part at all.
    • p. 9
  • I had no taste for defeat — much less victory — without a fight.
    • p. 49
  • The most appropriate type of daily life for me was a day-by-day world destruction; peace was the most difficult and abnormal state to live in.
    • p. 57
  • Only through the group, I realised — through sharing the suffering of the group — could the body reach that height of existence that the individual alone could never attain. And for the body to reach that level at which the divine might be glimpsed, a dissolution of individuality was necessary. The tragic quality of the group was also necessary, the quality that constantly raised the group out of the abandon and torpor into which it was prone to lapse, leading it to an ever-mounting shared suffering and so to death, which was the ultimate suffering. The group must be open to death — which meant, of course, that it must be a community of warriors.
    • p. 87

Quotes about Mishima

  • Let us remember that the central reality must be sought in the writer's work: it is what the writer chose to write, or was compelled to write, that finally matters. And certainly Mishima's carefully premeditated death is part of his work.

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