Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yukio Mishima (1925-1970)

Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) - Pseudonym for Hiraoka Kimitake

Mini Biography

Yukio Mishima was born in Tokyo in 1925. He attended the University of Tokyo. His first work of fiction, a short story, was published when he was a first-year student. For the rest of his life he wrote - to enormous popular and critical acclaim - plays, poetry, essays, and novels. His first full-length novel, the autobiographical "Confessions of a Mask," is considered a classic of modern Japanese fiction. In it, a young man grapples with his homosexuality, the intensity of his inner states, the ways he must conceal himself, and the difficulties of not conforming to Japanese society. Mishima, educated in Japan and deeply influenced by European and Russian literature, developed his consuming obsession: a longing for unvanquished, imperial Japan; its samurai traditions, and heroic ideals of beauty, nationalism, and honor, including the traditionally enviable fate of dying for one's country. Mishima led by example. Along with writing energetically and passionately, he founded an elite right-wing organization for 100 males, the Shield Society, dedicated to 'Bushido,' the Samurai code of honor. Mishima became an expert in traditional martial arts, despaired of modern Japan and bemoaned the post-war suppression of its traditional past. Control - of the self, of art and of society - was of the utmost importance to Mishima. On travel, Mishima wrote in "Mask" : " 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 by which we lose our ownership of it. This is what makes travel so utterly fruitless." Twenty-six years later, Mishima, intense and disturbed as ever, and in complete 'possession' of his life, committed suicide in a shocking and internationally-reported public event. He was forty-five.

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