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In this fascinating document, one of Japan's best known-and controversial-writers created what might be termed a new literary form. It is new because it combines elements of many existing types of writing, yet in the end fits into none of them.
At one level, it may be read as an account of how a puny, bookish boy discovered the importance of his own physical being; the "sun and steel" of the title are themselves symbols respectively of the cult of the open air and the weights used in bodybuilding. At another level, it is a discussion by a major novelist of the relation between action and art, and his own highly polished art in particular. More personally, it is an account of one individual's search for identity and self-integration. Or again, the work could be seen as a demonstration of how an intensely individual preoccupation can be developed into a profound philosophy of life.
All these elements are woven together by Mishima's complex yet polished and supple style. The confession and the self-analysis, the philosophy and the poetry combine in the end to create something that is in itself perfect and self-sufficient. It is a piece of literature that is as carefully fashioned as Mishima's novels, and at the same time provides an indispensable key to the understanding of them as art.
The road Mishima took to salvation is a highly personal one. Yet here, ultimately, one detects the unmistakable tones of a self transcending the particular and attaining to a poetic vision of the universal. The book is therefore a moving document, and is highly significant as a pointer to the future development of one of the most interesting novelists of modern times.
Tokyo, 1912. The closed world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders - rich provincial families, a new and powerful political and social elite.
Kiyoaki has been raised among the elegant Ayakura family - members of the waning aristocracy - but he is not one of them. Coming of age, he is caught up in the tensions between old and new, and his feelings for the exquisite, spirited Satoko, observed from the sidelines by his devoted friend Honda. When Satoko is engaged to a royal prince, Kiyoaki realises the magnitude of his passion.
A haunting novella of fame and disillusionment by a Japanese literary icon
All eyes are upon Rikio. And he likes it, mostly. His fans cheer from a roped-off section, screaming and yelling to attract his attention. They would kill for a moment alone with him. Finally the director sets up the shot, the camera begins to roll, someone yells "action"; Rikio, for a moment, transforms into another being, a hardened young yakuza, but as soon as the shot is finished, he slumps back into his own anxieties and obsessions.
Written shortly after Yukio Mishima himself had acted in the film Afraid to Die, this novella is a rich and unflinching psychological portrait of a celebrity coming apart at the seams as the absurdity of his existence comes sharply into focus. With exquisite, vivid prose, Star begs the question: is there ever any escape from how we are seen by others?
Read this classic exploration of political violence, traditional samurai values and right wing nihilism.
Isao is a young, engaging patriot, and a fanatical believer in the ancient samurai ethos. He turns terrorist, organising a violent plot against the new industrialists, who he believes are threatening the integrity of Japan and usurping the Emperor's rightful power. As the conspiracy unfolds and unravels, Mishima brilliantly chronicles the conflicts of a decade that saw the fabric of Japanese life torn apart.
Mishima’s literary powers are on full display in his penultimate novel that is a meditation on reincarnation and Buddhist philosophy.
Honda, a brilliant lawyer and man of reason, is called to Bangkok on legal business, where he is granted an audience with a young Thai princess - an encounter that radically alters the course of his life. He is convinced she is a reincarnated spirit, and undertakes a long, arduous pilgrimage to the holy places of India, where, in the climactic scene, he encounters her once more, only to have his newfound beliefs shattered and his life bereft of all meaning.
The gripping story of an affair gone horribly wrong, from one of Japan's greatest twentieth-century writers
Koji, a young student, has fallen hopelessly in love with the beautiful, enigmatic Yuko. But she is married to the literary critic and serial philanderer Ippei. Tormented by desire and anger, Koji is driven to an act of violence that will bind this strange, terrible love triangle together for the rest of their lives. A starkly compelling story of lust, guilt and punishment, The Frolic of the Beasts explores the masks we wear in life, and what happens when they slip.
'One of the greatest avant-garde Japanese writers of the twentieth century' New Yorker