Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima
Naoki Inose, Hiroaki Sato
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Yukio Mishima (b. 1925) was a brilliant writer and intellectual whose relentless obsession with beauty, purity, and patriotism ended in his astonishing self-disembowelment and decapitation in downtown Tokyo in 1970. Nominated for the Nobel Prize, Mishima was the best-known novelist of his time (works like Confessions of a Mask and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion are still in print in English), and his legacy—his persona—is still honored and puzzled over.
Who was Yukio Mishima really? This, the first full biography to appear in English in almost forty years, traces Mishima's trajectory from a sickly boy named Kimitake Hiraoka to a hard-bodied student of martial arts. In detail it examines his family life, the wartime years, and his emergence, then fame, as a writer and advocate for traditional values. Revealed here are all the personalities and conflicts and sometimes petty backbiting that shaped the culture of postwar literary Japan.
Working entirely from primary sources and material unavailable to other biographers, author Naoki Inose and translator Hiroaki Sato together have produced a monumental work that covers much new ground in unprecedented depth. Using interviews, social and psychological analysis, and close reading of novels and essays, Persona removes the mask that Mishima so artfully created to disguise his true self.
Naoki Inose, currently vice governor of Tokyo, has also written biographies of writers Kikuchi Kan and Osamu Dazai.
New York–based Hiroaki Sato is an award-winning translator of classical and modern Japanese poetry, and also translated Mishima's novel Silk and Insight.
entitlements were not large. The failure of his initial business venture, Japan’s first zinc manufacturing plant that went bankrupt with the onset of recession as the Great War ended, saddled Sadatarō with seven hundred thousand yen—at a time when the prime minister’s annual pay was twelve thousand yen and the prefectural governor’s thirty-six hundred yen. It was some time after the Hiraoka family moved to a less grand house, in , that the uncontrollable aspects of Natsuko’s nature and
Marie Laurencin painting hanging on a wall. Nagaoka was also one of the five members of the National Public Safety Commission. Chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs, the commission met every Thursday morning in a special room at the Ministry of Home Affairs, in Kasumigaseki. It had the authority to appoint and dismiss the commissioner of the National Police Agency, the superintendent of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, and the heads of all prefectural police agencies. In some ways the
Japan’s sublime beauty,” Mishima told Mitani, when he picked up a single maple leaf at the Shūgakuin Detached Palace. Mishima then wrote: “If Americans had made an effort to appreciate [Onoe Kikugorō] VI’s ‘Lion Dance’—or rather, if they had had a great people’s flexibility, this war would not have happened.” The Japan Romantic School One thing notable in the March “communication” is that Mishima by the spring of was distancing himself from Yasuda Yojūrō, the founder of the Japan
,” in , when the mass media wanted to mark the tenth anniversary of Japan’s defeat. Azusa’s was, of course, no more than a blurt in a moment of chaos. The defeat had created a mass disorientation. The novelist Shiga Naoya, for example, proposed, with a straight face, that the Japanese abandon their own language in favor of French because, he reasoned, without their amorphous language the war would not have happened. Azusa would soon regain his footing and resume urging Mishima to work
stripped naked like animals for the induction checkup, I sneezed a number of times. Not only did the callow army doctor mistake the rustling sound in my bronchi for Rasselgeräusch”— crackles, crepitations; German medical terms were routinely used at the time—“but he confirmed his misdiagnosis from my own illness report and went on to have my blood precipitation measured.” The upshot: the doctor diagnosed it as “amyloidal infiltration of the lungs” and ordered Mishima home right away. “Once out of