Who Was Yukio Mishima Really?

16 Jan
Persona by  Naoki Inose (translated by Hiroaki Sato )

Persona by Naoki Inose (translated by Hiroaki Sato )

Okay, what I know about Japanese writer and intellectual Yukio Mishima I gleaned from Paul Schrader’s 1985 film, Mishima.

Which makes the appearance of this prodigious biography Persona by (the first in English in 40 years) quite inviting.Mishma, Nobel nominated and prolific—Confessions of a Mask and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion are two of his more well known novels.He is most well known for his public self-disembowelment and decapitation in downtown Tokyo in 1970. Born Kimitake Hiraoka he became a martial arts devotee who was a flamboyant traditionalist and an obsessed patriot

Publisher Stone Bridge Press reports Naoki Inose and English translator Hiroaki Sato working from primary sources and material unavailable to other biographers and through interviews, social and psychological analysis, “and close reading of novels and essays…removed the mask that Mishima so artfully created to disguise his true self.”

The ever reliable Michael Ortofor opines

Mishima’s life, and his many interests (he also traveled extensively, acted in film, and was active in the production of his many plays) make for fascinating reading, and Persona is a riveting account. Yet it’s still hard not to feel that only the surface has been scratched here. Most of the work remains undiscussed and while one gets a good sense of hyperactive Mishima’s many accomplishments there’s much more one would want to know in greater detail. Nevertheless, this is a very fine and readable biography.

And oddly, in the this pay as you go world, Schrader’s homage is available on YouTube, here:

Currently reading The Paris Review

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