By Damian Flanagan
The main across the world acclaimed jap writer of the 20 th century, Yukio Mishima (1925–70) used to be a major candidate for the Nobel Prize. however the prolific writer surprised the area in 1970 whilst he tried a coup d’état that led to his suicide by way of ritual disembowelment. during this considerably new research of Mishima’s amazing existence, Damian Flanagan deviates from the stereotypical depiction of a right-wing nationalist and aesthete, proposing the writer in its place as a guy in thrall to the trendy global whereas additionally laid low with hidden neuroses and early life trauma that driven him towards his explosive ultimate act.
Flanagan argues that Mishima was once a guy captivated with the suggestions of time and “emperor,” and divulges how those have been on the middle of his literature and existence. Untangling the distortions within the writer’s memoirs, Flanagan lines the evolution of Mishima’s makes an attempt to grasp and rework his sexuality and inventive character. whereas frequently perceived as a solitary protest determine, Mishima, Flanagan exhibits, was once greatly in track with postwar culture—he took up bodybuilding and have become a version and actor within the Fifties, followed the subjects of latest political scandals in his paintings, courted English translators, and have become encouraged by means of the scholar protests and hippie way of life of the overdue Nineteen Sixties. A groundbreaking reevaluation of the writer, this succinct biography paints a revealing portrait of Mishima’s existence and paintings.
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Additional info for Yukio Mishima (Critical Lives)
This was a sensational honour for a sixteen-year-old schoolboy: not only was it the ﬁrst time the magazine had asked a student to contribute, but it was the ﬁrst time they had run ﬁction as opposed to critical essays. 61 It also marked the birth of ‘Yukio Mishima’. A variety of anecdotes compete to explain how the name was derived, but the standard version is that Shimizu had brought the manuscript of Mishima’s story to an editorial meeting of the magazine at a ryokan (traditional guesthouse) in Shuzenji in the summer and proposed that they use a pen name in order to protect the sixteen-year-old author from the public – and out of deference to the Hiraoka family, whose reaction to their son’s sudden celebrity was hard to gauge.
He began to sublimate his inner woundings into excitement at the depiction of real-life woundings. Imprisoned in a repressed, protected space, he fantasized about the gory deaths of others. 44 According to Confessions of a Mask, he was aroused by pictures in magazines of blood-soaked duels; of young samurai cutting open their stomachs; of soldiers being caught by bullets and gritting their teeth, with blood overﬂowing from between the hands that clutched their chests; of lean and ﬁrmly ﬂeshed wrestlers.
No sooner had I thought this, than, with a dizzying intoxication, it gushed forth. Whether truthful account or inventive ﬁction, St Sebastian was to become a deﬁning image in Mishima’s life – one which, in the 1960s, he repeatedly recreated in photoshoots with himself posed as the Christian martyr transformed into sadomasochistic fantasy. 54 Mishima posed as St Sebastian, 1966. Given that Mishima’s sexual awakening happened in the same year that the Japanese Army embarked on a wholesale invasion of North China, overran Shanghai and went on a notorious rampage in Nanjing (inspiring the twelve-year-old Mishima to write about heroic Japanese soldiers marching through swamps and drinking muddy water in cruel heat), it is perhaps not surprising that sex and death would become so closely linked in his psyche.